James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

July 1

The Boyne Water

By Old Ballad

  • The Boyne is a stream near Drogheda, Ireland, and it was here that William III. defeated James II., July 1, 1689, and drove him out of the country. The anniversary of this battle is generally celebrated on the 12th of July, in accordance with the modern system of chronology.

  • JULY the First, of a morning clear, one thousand six hundred and ninety,

    King William did his men prepare—of thousands he had thirty—

    To fight King James and all his foes, encamped near the Boyne Water;

    He little feared, though two to one, their multitudes to scatter.

    King William called his officers, saying: “Gentlemen, mind your station,

    And let your valour here be shown before this Irish nation;

    My brazen walls let no man break, and your subtle foes you’ll scatter,

    Be sure you show them good English play as you go over the water.”


    Both foot and horse they marched on, intending them to batter,

    But the brave Duke Schomberg he was shot as he crossed over the water.

    When that King William did observe the brave Duke Schomberg falling,

    He reined his horse with a heavy heart, on the Enniskilleners calling:

    “What will you do for me, brave boys—see yonder men retreating?

    Our enemies encouraged are, and English drums are beating.”

    He says, “My boys, feel no dismay at the losing of one commander,

    For God shall be our king this day, and I’ll be general under.”


    Within four yards of our forefront, before a shot was fired,

    A sudden snuff they got that day, which little they desired;

    For horse and man fell to the ground, and some hung in their saddle;

    Others turned up their forked ends, which we call coup de ladle.

    Prince Eugene’s regiment was the next, on our right hand advanced,

    Into a field of standing wheat, where Irish horses pranced—

    But the brandy ran so in their heads, their senses all did scatter,

    They little thought to leave their bones that day at the Boyne Water.

    Both men and horse lay on the ground, and many there lay bleeding,

    I saw no sickles there that day—but, sure, there was sharp shearing.

    Now praise God, all true Protestants,

    And heaven’s and earth’s Creator,

    For the deliverance that He sent our enemies to scatter.

    The Church’s foes will pine away, like churlish-hearted Nabal

    For our deliverer came this day like the great Zorobabel.

    So praise God, all true Protestants, and I will say no further,

    But had the Papists gained the day, there would have been open murder.

    Although King James and many more were ne’er that way inclined,

    It was not in their power to stop what the rabble they designed.