Two Brothers
Lyrics: Rosie Ní Ghallóglaigh 
Air: O Carolan Tune

Prior to last year, I knew very little about the Rising outside Dublin and the Battle of Ashbourne. I had no idea up until then of the Volunteers who seized the bridge and a bakery in Slane, or of the Volunteers who travelled from all over the county to Tara on Easter Sunday 1916, or of the plan for Louth Volunteers to join the Meath Volunteers there and lead them on to Dublin. I grew up hearing stories of my Grandad’s involvement in the struggle for independence. He himself had written poetry while on hunger strike in Mountjoy in 1919. His memoirs and compositions kept by my family and archival material kindly shared with me by Ultan Courtney of Kilmainhamwood, Co. Meath, combined with accounts from Meath and Louth Volunteers provided a wealth of material which inspired this song.

Grandad’s brother James had fought in WW1 and died and was buried in Jerusalem. I realised as I got older that this was the case for many families, torn by the split in Volunteers and on how freedom could be achieved. 'Two Brothers' is my contribution to the 1916 Song Project, a Meath song, sung proudly by a Meath woman, in tribute to the men and women of Meath and North Leinster who were very much dedicated to the cause of Irish freedom.

Two brothers were, both bold and strong, in Nobber they were raised
By the holy well, where the Dee did swell, they spent their early days
In Cregg and in Rathgillen they learned of Gaelic lays 
And of brave and gallant heroes that had fought for Irish ways. 

Round Theiveraw and Fagan's field they let their dreams take hold
At Gallows Hill and the ancient mill, by old Rathgillen they roved
And both had dreams of freedom from the only life they knew
But the roads they chose were different like so many brothers two.

Their mother swore her boys would fight for Ireland to their best
A local branch of the Gaelic League was formed at her behest
Under Dr.PJ Cusack and Micheal Ó Mullane
Gaelic spirit in North leinster would be sure to never wane.

Together they learned Gaelic, together they did march
Together they trained in the woods with guns made out of larch 
Together wondered what kind of future they could make
And how much more oppression their small nation could take.

No doubt they both had wishes for their people to be free, 
And in their young lives stood together against all forms of tyranny,
But confusion hit the ranks when the Great War was called
And promises of Home Rule and good fortune were abound.

When the split it hit the volunteers, and Redmond spread the call
For all able bodied Irish men to join up one and all
Home Rule he said it will be ours but first for them we fight 
Many young men followed, they did what they thought was right.

Young James went to the trenches for the freedom of small nations
No doubt his enlisting was met with consternation 
From a mother and a brother who were on the other side
Of an argument that since has caused manys a divide.

In august 1914 for India he left
And then on to Salonika then to the holy land
He met his death in Palestine with freedom on his mind
He is buried now in Jerusalem like so many of his kind.

In Ireland Eugene mourned his brothers choice in foreign war
He did not follow Redmond but instead chose Pearses call
In Meath he fought the British as explosives engineer
And spent many nights a hunted man away from his Molly dear.

Easter 1916 on Tara's hill did gather
All men from Meath and from far afield there ready for the battle
But word came from headquarters that the Volunteers stand down
'Go home' they said 'and wait for orders from the men in Dublin town'.

All Volunteers went on the run, the forces at their tails
They made their homes in run down barns, while children took them their meals 
Their homes were raided, deadly threats were issued to their kin
But none would cave in, none would break and give the heroes in.

When the RIC caught up with him he was sent to Mountjoy gaol
In 1919 on hunger strike he swore he wouldn't fail
Released to great fanfare, the Irish flag was raised
For the first time in his life he saw hope for freedoms grace.

Both brothers fought for freedom and both brothers pledged their lives
Fought to liberate our nation, fought to to answer Irelands cries
Fought for what they thought could lead us on to peace and liberty
One on the soil and one away across the foreign seas.
Video Documentation of Concert
Recorded and Produced by Michael Fortune.

Rosie Ní Ghallóglaigh

Two Brothers

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