May Moran of Enniscorthy
Lyrics: Michael Fortune 
Air: Aileen Lambert 

This song charts the year of 1916 through the eyes of May (Mary) Moran, a young woman from Church Street in Enniscorthy, and her experiences in the lead up to the Rising, as well as the affects afterwards. 

It is based on real stories related to the songwriter, Michael Fortune, by her son, immediate family and friends, as well as through May's two witness statements. May, a founding member of Cumann na mBan in Enniscorthy was only nineteen at the time of Rising. She was the youngest daughter of Mary and Bill Moran of Church Street and grew up in a strong republican household. Her brothers and sisters too were involved in the Rising in Enniscorthy and Ferns. Her family, like many, suffered greatly as a result of their beliefs and her brother John was murdered by Crown Forces in Drogheda in February 1921.

Anyone that remembers May speaks of a quiet, kind natured woman, but fiery and headstrong when provoked. Her father, Bill Moran, a tailor from Athy, moved to Enniscorthy and was a strong supporter of any organisation which helped to promote Irish culture and which would end British Rule in Ireland. He made the uniforms of the the Volunteers in Enniscorthy and it is reputed in family stories that it was he who made the tri-colour that was hung over the Athenaeum.

Michael and Aileen were drawn to May's story and perspective as her witness statements vividly describe the pride and passion she held for her country, and the turmoil and hurt caused to he family as a result. Her personal and independent account provides a terrific lens through which to view and understand the motivation behind the Rising, while the song also helps to highlight the stories that didn't gain public currency after the Rising in Wexford; how Redmond’s Volunteers helped in rounding up those involved in the Rising afterwards; how her father was subject to regular abuse by the local RIC at the time; and how her sister Sheila had one of her baby twins killed by soldiers following the Rising also.

Sung to a beautiful newly composed air by Aileen, the song does not hide from these facts, and nor should it. As the great balladeer Frank Harte once wrote, "those in power write the history, while those who suffer write the songs”. Michael and Aileen hope to address this and 100 years later, May Moran will finally get a chance to tell her story to the people of Wexford and Ireland.

May Moran of Enniscorthy 
As May Moran I’m known, to others plain Mary,
On Church Street so grand, I did sport and did run,
But come 1916, when the wind shook the barley,
Like my father and brothers, I took to the gun. 
My father, Bill Moran, a noted cloth tailor,
From the town of Athy to Wexford did come,
 A humble fair man and a dacent kind neighbour,
A husband to Mary, with fine daughters and sons.

The cross we all bore, was the love of old Ireland,
A love for our country, that all didn’t hold,
“Oh cut loose” he would say “the strings of the apron,
And tie up the loose threads, the green, white and gold.”
The ghosts of the Black Mob, and their likes, still cut sore us,
Saying, “keep your head low and your visions confined, 
Forget your dead clergy and Quinsey the Weaver,
For Flanders great fields will soon clear your minds”.

Oh they will try to caress you, control and impress you, 
With visions of plenty, advancement and gold,
A Union on offer, but slight and you’ll suffer,
And no better nation to bring hardship and scold.
“To hell with your money”, were the words of Young Mellows,
“And damn to hell, with Redmond’s war calls,
Stay home here in Ireland, and do for your country, 
And let Englishmen fight, in their own English wars”.

As Lent had just ended and the country repented,
And all earths great wonders knew what lay in store,
The small birds a hatching, the crows done their thatching,
And on Vinegar Hill, swallows did swoop and did soar. 
Each note that they sang did gently remind us,
Of nature’s true beauty, where our destiny lies,
And when word finally came, from our comrades, in Dublin,
We rejoiced and we sang like larks in the sky.

At 7 am it was time to get going,
All dressed, fed, and ready and carrying our guns,
“Bring the tay with you Bill, for the men” said my mother, 
And we marched down Church Street to the Athenaeum.
My poor aged father looked prouder than ever,
The men in his clothes, his flag flying high,
Raised up by the hands of three of our women, 
Wexford’s brave men had tears in their eyes. 

For five days we stood surrounded by comrades,
As we held our dear town with rifle and pike,
And through Gorey and Ferns the news it was carried,
O’er ditch and through fields, by foot and by bike.
But we knew in our hearts, our end was soon coming,
For fFrench and his guns, had us in their sights,
No option said Pearse but duly surrender,
But always remember hang onto your pikes.

Next day all the rats, they came out of their sewers,
And Redmond’s brave men, dis the work of the crown,
They raided our homes in bid to arrest us, 
And these great Irish men they took our flag down.
“To the hills” were the words of our great, dear Pat Keegan,
“Like the Babes in the Woods”, Seamus Rafter recalled,
“The homes of the Duffry will shelter our good men, 
And from the slopes of the Blackstairs an Empire will fall”.

I will never forget in the days that did follow,
The soldiers came in, to cause worry and strife,
Our Sheila was beaten and her family harried,
And one of her twins, that day lost his life.
Bad cess to you now, King George of England,
Our destiny blighted by an Empire’s cruel sway,
Is it too much an ask, for to cherish our children?
A country of equals, where all have a say?

I will never forget how you divided and conquered,
And how your grand Empire did rise and did fall, 
Or my own dear neighbours who died in your trenches,
As you begged us ‘small nations’, to answer your call.
The months they passed by and the Summer had ended,
With the fall of the leaf came the dark in the sky,
The swallows departed, their young in procession,
Our homes still lay empty of our men and our boys.

But the blessing’s of God were soon put upon us,
My mothers long prayers, were answered and called,
The men of the town returned stronger than ever,
Though poor Daddy was weak, he proudly stood tall. 
Advent had come and Christmas had left us,
At Nollaig na mBan we rested from chores,
For we knew that our seeds by then were well planted, 
And time’s gentle wonder, would show what lay in store.

‘Sixteen was the year I shall always remember, 
To us, it brought pain, much sorrow and gloom,
But with the passing of time, the frosts will have lifted,
And our sweet Easter Lillies will have sprouted and bloomed.
Now always remember, good people of Wexford,
That the freedom you hold, didn’t fall from sky,
It was sought for, and fought for, and with lifeblood well paid for,
By your brothers, your sisters, my family, and I.
Video Documentation of Concert
Recorded and Produced by Michael Fortune.

Aileen Lambert

May Moran of Enniscorthy

Home      |      The Songs      |      The Singers      |      The Talks      |      Background and Contact Home.htmlThe_Songs.htmlThe_Singers.htmlThe_Talks.htmlBackground_and_Contact_Details.htmlshapeimage_6_link_0shapeimage_6_link_1shapeimage_6_link_2shapeimage_6_link_3shapeimage_6_link_4