Australian Folk Songs

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The Memory Of The Dead (1843)

Who fears to speak of 'Ninety-eight'?
Who blushes at the name?
When cowards mock the patriot's fate
Who hangs his head for shame?
He's all a knave or half a slave
Who slights his country thus,
But a true man, like you, man,
Will fill your glass with us.

We drink the memory of the brave,
The faithful and the few,
Some lie far off beyond the wave,
Some sleep in Ireland too;
All, all are gone, but still lives on
The fame of those who died,
All true men, like you, men,
Remember them with pride.

Some on the shores of distant lands
Their weary hearts have laid,
And by the stranger's heedless hands
Their lonely graves were made;
But though their clay be far away,
Beyond the Atlantic foam,
In true men, like you, men,
Their spirit's still at home.

The dust of some is Irish earth,
Among their own they rest;
And that same land that gave them birth
Has caught them to her breast;
And we will pray that from their clay
Full many a race may start
Of true men, like you, men,
To play as brave a part.

They rose in dark and evil days
To free their native land
And kindled then a living blaze
That nothing shall withstand;
Alas, that might should conquer right,
They fell and passed away
But true men, like you, men,
Are plenty here today.

Then here's their memory, let it be
To us a guiding light
To cheer our fight for liberty
And teach us to unite!
Though good and ill be Ireland's still,
Though sad as their your fate,
Yet true men, be you, men,
Like those of 'Ninety-eight'.

John Kells Ingram


This song was written in 1843, when the author was a 20-year-old student in Trinity College, Dublin. Verses from it were published in Australian newspapers the earliest example being the Sydney newspaper the Morning Chronicle of 21 Feb 1844, p. 4. From such reprintings over many decades we can assume it was in oral circulation in Australia as well as Ireland.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory