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I remember that Royal Garden Party

I remember that Royal Garden Party

In June of the festival year

Wondering if many among us had ever heard

that when the United Irishmen marched in

to Antrim town that other June day,

the young men in green jackets, the leaders,

tried to sing 'The Marseillaise',

the proper anthem for revolutions,

and none of the pikemen-peasants knew it

and few of the Belfast artisans had heard it;

so their steps got into a tangle as they straggled.

but Jemmy Hope, that reliable man

who never postured, rallied all

by striking-up 'The lass of Richmond Hill',

which most knew anyway.

so, in step together, they swung

down the long street to meet the enemy.

The irony is this song was written

by Leonard McNally, the ugly little lawyer,

defender in the courts of the United Men,

proven by State papers, long after,

to have been a Castle informer.

How many of the Garden Party remembered

and enjoyed the complicated ambiguity.

Yet there must have been among those present,

Some with forefathers in the rabble

Scattered after the skirmish.


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