‘The Ballad of Michael Hoade’ was composed by Tommy Farrell of Carraun, near Belclare, Co. Galway sometime in the 1920s. It recounts the story of Michael Hoade, a Caherlistrane shopkeeper, who was killed by members of the Crown forces on 22 January 1921, during the War of Independence.
Tommy Farrell (c.1898–1982) of Carraun
From the village of Carraun, near Belclare, Tommy Farrell was a farmer with a keen interest in politics, who in his spare time composed poems and ballads, which he often recited locally. He was in his early twenties when Michael Hoade (1889–1921) was killed at Ballintleva, the townland in which his own mother, Bridget ‘Bid’ Lardner, was born. It is likely that he composed the ballad, which contains much detail about Hoade’s death and funeral, soon after the incident. Farrell died in 1982, but his ballad has survived in local memory thanks to his neighbours, the Lardners.
Ballad of Michael Hoade
Bailéad Mhichíl Uí Ódaigh
by Tommy Farrell, Carraun, Belclare, Co. Galway
On the 22nd of January in nineteen twenty-one
A band of Tans assembled in dear old Caherlistrane
They marched four deep along the road intending to make a stop
When Halt! the cry re-echoed outside of Hoade’s new shop.
The officer commanding asked, ‘Is Michael Hoade within?’
‘He is,’ replied his sister, ‘what do you want with him?’
‘Suspicion rests upon him as a rebel of renown
And now we’ve come to take him as a traitor to the Crown.
Said she, ‘He is no traitor, no crime has he e’er done
Save fighting for his country as many before have done
Save fighting for his country and he means to set her free
In spite of all ye Black and Tans and English tyranny.’
They marched him out into a field and ordered him to run
While those English devils then prepared their rifles and their guns,
Each Tan discharged his weapon as poor young Michael ran
And there he fell a martyr in dear old Caherlistrane.
The people gathered round him then to see if he was dead
The only stretcher they could find was an old sheep dipping lid.
They placed his body onto it e’er his last breath he had drawn
This first young noble martyr of dear old Caherlistrane.
The Reverend Father Healy, he motored from Kilmaine
To bless the corpse of his nephew whom those devils they had slain
Then his loving sister said, ‘His body should be in church.’
But the officer commanding said, ‘There must be an inquest.’
Then said his grieving uncle without a moment’s pause
To the chapel we will take him now despite Greenwood and his laws.
They brought him to the chapel with many a fervent prayer
And laid his mortal body before the altar there.
And on the following morning High Mass was chanted there
By the holy priests of Caherlistrane, Tuam, Cummer and Belclare
They then asked all his comrades to offer up a prayer
For this young noble martyr who died a volunteer.
Thanks to Rosaline and the Lardner family
Over the decades, the memory of the ballad has been kept alive by Tommy Farrell’s near neighbours, the Lardners. In this short film, Rosaline Lardner revives the song at Carragh Cottage, the ancestral home of the famous musical Keane family. Brendan McGowan of Galway City Museum also gives an overview of the incident that inspired the song.
Thanks to Rosaline Lardner (vocals), Michael Cully (accordion), Mary Jo Fitzpatrick (keyboard) and Andrew Newland (pipes and whistle). Thanks also to Seán Keane, and to Garry Kelly and Damien Burke of GK Media.
This project has been funded by Galway City Council and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, under the Decade of Centenaries Programme, 2021.