The Minstrel Boy

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The Minstrel Boy


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Written by the poet and songwriter Thomas Moore (1779-1852), 'The Minstrel Boy' is a patriotic song that is widely believed to be in remembrance of his friends that were killed in the Irish Rebellion of 1798. The song is set to the Medieval Irish air of 'The Moreen'.

The song recalls the story of the Minstrel Boy who died in battle and whose harp was never played again since its music "was made for the pure and free". Unsurprisingly, the proud, defiant, determined nature of the lyrics struck a chord with many Irishmen that went to war and it became popular with those who fought in the American Civil War (1861-1865) and in World War I (1914-1918). It continues to be a popular today, and is often played at funerals of those who have been killed in service.

A third verse was added to the song during the American Civil War, although it is not included in the present version on Ask about Ireland. The author of this verse remains unknown.

The Minstrel Boy will return we pray
When we hear the news we all will cheer it,
The minstrel boy will return one day,
Torn perhaps in body, not in spirit.
Then may he play on his harp in peace,
In a world such as heaven intended,
For all the bitterness of man must cease,
And ev'ry battle must be ended.

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