Easter 1916
Lyrics: Fergus Russell
Air: Fergus Russell

The women and men who rose up in 1916 and put their lives on the line for the cause of Ireland's freedom have been heroes to me since I was a child. It galls me to hear establishment politicians, journalists, commentators and “celebs” deride the motives, question the character and label as terrorism the efforts of the insurgents to inspire the people of Ireland to reaffirm their right to self-determination. When I sat down to write a song concerning 1916 my desire was to try to combat the efforts of the revisionists and to attempt to represent the reality of the repression that the ordinary Irish citizens faced on a daily basis as subjugate people within the largest and most coercive imperalist empire ever established. The song that emerged from my efforts was written from the heart, and is my honest attempt to express my sincere admiration, gratitude and thanks to those brave men and women of principle who had the courage and determination to face the might of a tyrannical regime and assert in arms “that freedom is the people's right”.
In nineteen sixteen,
A war obscene,
Was raging through the nations,
When the call rang out; Arise,
Let us arm and organise
For Ireland's liberation.

For it's the workers bleed,
For the Empire's greed,
And the poor must form the rich men's shield,
As all 'round the world,
The bombs are hurled,
It's the workers that die on the battlefield.

On a Dublin quay,
On an Easter day,
A ragged army did assemble,
Men, women and boys,
And they made such a noise.
That they made an empire tremble.

'Neath the Starry Plough,
They made a vow
Though poorly armed and few are we.
All tyrants we defy
Freedom is our battle cry,
We'll not rest 'til we gain our liberty.

Those brave Volunteers
With hearts sincere
Were not a battle hardened band
Nurses, poets and dockers
Bricklayers and actors
All citizen soldiers for Ireland.

'Neath the sun's bright glow,
By the GPO,
Those rebels bold they did ignite,
A flickering flame,
That did proclaim,
That freedom it is the people's right.

In street, lane and square,
'midst bullet, shell and flare,
Those heroes brave did face their foe
And in the lion's den,
Those women and men
Did match the tyrant blow for blow.

For their nationhood
They paid in blood
To shed their chains and rise up free,
To greet each morn
A free-people born
Not subjects in some colony.

They fought with great honour
Upright, just and proper,
No hint of cowardice or outrage
But far outnumbered
And their forces sundered
They were trapped like tigers in a cage.

On the final morn
As the day did dawn
What a dreadful sight did meet their gaze
Unarmed citizens lay dead
Slaughtered as they fled
By machineguns behind a British barricade.

At the sight of the killing
Of those innocent civilians
And the city a blazing battlefield
The commanders did advise
With tears in their eyes,
To lay down arms and to yield.

To end this tale,
In Kilmainham Gaol
The vengeful tyrants did demand
That fourteen brave martyrs
Be led to the slaughter
To silence dissent in Ireland

But hearts of steel
Will never kneel
To tyranny or aggression
And Ireland's women and men
They will rise once again
To end their long oppression.
Video Documentation of Concert
Recorded and Produced by Michael Fortune.

Fergus Russell

Easter 1916

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