Proudly the note of the trumpet is sounding
Loudly the war cries arise on the gale;
Fleetly the steed by Lough Swilly is bounding,
To join the thick squadrons in Saimear's green vale.
On, ev'ry mountaineer,
Strangers to flight and fear;
Rush to the standard of dauntless Red Hugh!
Bonnaught and Gallowglass,
Throng from each mountain pass;
On for old Erin, "O'Donnell Abu!"



Princely O'Neill to our aid is advancing,
With many a chieftain and warrior clan;
A thousand proud steeds in his vanguard are prancing,
'Neath the borders brave from the banks of the Bann:
Many a heart shall quail,
Under its coat of mail;
Deeply the merciless foeman shall rue
When on his ear shall ring,
Borne on the breeze's wing,
Tír Chonaill's dread war-cry, "O'Donnell Abu!"



Wildly o'er Desmond the war-wolf is howling,
Fearless the eagle sweeps over the plain,
The fox in the streets of the city is prowling -
All, all who would scare them are banished or slain!
Grasp every stalwart hand
Hackbut and battle brand -
Pay them all back the debt so long due;
Norris and Clifford well
Can of Tirconnell tell;
Onward to glory - "O'Donnell Abu!"



Sacred the cause that Clan Connell's defending -
The altars we kneel at and homes of our sires;
Ruthless the ruin the foe is extending -
Midnight is red with the plunderer's fires.
On with O'Donnell, then,
Fight the old fight again,
Sons of Tirconnell,
All valiant and true:
Make the false Saxon feel
Erin's avenging steel
Strike for your country! - "O'Donnell Abu!"


Hear it play

O'Donnell Abu is probably the best known and most popular O'Donnell song. The tune was composed in the early part of the 19th centuryby a man from Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary. His name was Joseph Haliday and he was bandmaster of the Cavan Militia. He died in Dublin in 1846, aged 71 years.

Michael McCann, a young Galway man, added words to the music. The composition first appeared  in 'The Nation' of January, 1843 and was then called 'The Clan Connell War Song'. McCann, afterwards emigrated to America but later returned to England. At the time of his death in 1883 he was a shopkeeper in London. A celtic cross marks his grave in St. Patrick's  Catholic cemetery.

Years later Seosamh Mac Grianna, Rann-na-Feirsde, did the Irish translation.

Hugh O' Neill and Hugh O'Donnell Roe

In days gone by right royally, o'er fair and wide domaine,
Of Ulster lands and mountains grand, green vales and fertile plain;
'Twixt Fanad brown and Augher Town and 'twixt old grey Ardboe
And Inishsail ruled Hugh O'Nale and Hugh O'DonnellRoe.

Then Saxon vile with force and guile all Ulster tried to gain
But ready brands in Irish hands made all their effords vain,
Well Norris knew and Essex too that they could ne'er o'erthrow
The warlike Gaels led by O'Nale and Hugh O'Donnell Roe.

On Bandon's banks in surried ranks, while sat the wintry sun
Stood stalwart men from every glen 'twixt Larne and Cushendun,
From Swillyside and Keenagh wide, Dungannon and Raphoe,
They were all gathered round O'Nale and Hugh O'Donnell Roe.

At dead of night began the fight 'round that beleagured town
Where many a kern and trooper stern and armoured knight went down,
'Twas not the crew led by Carew but fate that night of woe
At far Kinsale that crushed O'Nale and Hugh O'Donnell Roe.

One found a grave by Tiber's wave in grand and stately Rome,
While the other found on Spanish ground his final earthly home,
But history will record until the shamrocks cease to grow
The thrilling tales of Hugh O'Nale and Hugh O'Donnell Roe.

At both the 1980 and 1982 Clan Gatherings this song sung by Eddie McGinley from Dublin(originally from Barnes outside Donegal Town) became a great favourite with all present. Eddie learned it from his father but more than that no one seems to know of its origin. Perhaps someone somewhere knows who the composer was: if so let me know. To aid the rhyme, O'Neill is pronounced as in gaelic - Ó Néil(O Nale).