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

October 12

The Wexford Massacre

By Michael Joseph Barry (1817–1889)

  • The Wexford Massacre, which occurred Oct. 12, 1649, was the result of Cromwell’s storming of that place and was part of his ferocious policy in Ireland.

  • THEY knelt around the cross divine—

    The matron and the maid;

    They bowed before redemption’s sign,

    And fervently they prayed:

    Three hundred fair and helpless ones,

    Whose crime was this alone—

    Their valiant husbands, sires, and sons,

    Had battled for their own.

    Had battled bravely, but in vain—

    The Saxon won the fight,

    And Irish corses strewed the plain

    Where Valour slept with Right.

    And now that man of demon guilt

    To fated Wexford flew—

    The red blood reeking on his hilt,

    Of hearts to Erin true!

    He found them there—the young, the old,

    The maiden and the wife:

    Their guardians brave in death were cold,

    Who dared for them the strife.

    They prayed for mercy—God on high!

    Before Thy cross they prayed,

    And ruthless Cromwell bade them die

    To glut the Saxon blade!

    Three hundred fell—the stifled prayer

    Was quenched in woman’s blood;

    Nor youth nor age could move to spare

    From slaughter’s crimson flood.

    But nations keep a stern account

    Of deeds that tyrants do;

    And guiltless blood to Heaven will mount,

    And Heaven avenge it, too!