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  • Writer's pictureFriends of Sinn Féin USA

"The Patriot Game" Remembering Fergal O'Hanlon Died New Years Day 1957

Updated: Jan 3, 2022

“Come all you young rebels and list while I sing.”- The Patriot Game

Young Fergal O’Hanlon died with his comrade Seán South (Sabhat) in the early hours of New Years Day 1957. Like Seán South, he was commemorated in a famous republican ballad, “The Patriot Game” written by Dominic Behan.

The song is sung in many a ballad session, but did you know that there are two versions.

One with missing verses and changed lyrics!!!!. The original version is a resolute young rebel with the only regrets that he was not more successful in facing down the police and those who he saw as traitors.

The version made famous by the Clancy Brothers dropped the reference to Éamon de Valera by then the President of the Ireland, "But still de Valera is greatly to blame, For shirking his part in the patriot game"

Also dropped was the lines.

“I don't mind a bit if I shoot down police.

They are lackeys for war never guardians of peace

And yet at deserters, I'm never let aim

The rebels who sold out the patriot game.”

The edited version is a song that weeps with regret for getting caught up in the patriot game.

The original is a resolute defense of his actions and attack on those who sold out the patriots of the time.

The tune may sound familiar as Bob Dylan used it for his incredible song, “With God on Our Side” which he must have picked up while playing on bills with the Clancy Brothers.

This version is of the original lyrics as sung by the great Luke Kelly.


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