Croppy Boy

One of three songs performed in Sirens––the most important one, in terms of space devoted to it in the text and in the introductory overture––is "The Croppy Boy," a melodramatic 1840s ballad about the Rebellion of 1798. It focuses on a poor Catholic boy whose ambition to join the fight against tyranny is cut short by a British army captain who dons the disguise of a priest to hear the boy's confession. "Croppies" were rebels who wore their hair cropped short.

John Hunt 2020

2019 photograph of the lifesize model of a croppy rebel held in the Collins Barracks division of the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin. Source: John Hunt.

Kevin McDermott (tenor) and Ralph Richey (piano) performing The Croppy Boy,  from the album Music from the Works of James Joyce (Sunphone Records, 2003). Source:

"Valentines Series" poster, date unknown, of a scene from The Croppy Boy, with artwork by "S.H.Y." Source:

George Cruikshank's 1845 illustration of the Battle of Ross in William Hamilton Maxwell's History of the Irish Rebellion in 1798, held in the British Library. The mocking caption reads, "Come on Boys her mouth's stopt." Source: Wikimedia Commons.

2005 photograph by Kglavin of Croppy Boy, Pikeman 1798, a memorial in Tralee, County Kerry. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Éamonn O'Doherty's bronze monument commemorating the Wexford pikemen of the 1798 Rebellion, installed in 1998 along the N25 between the towns of Wexford and New Ross by the Wexford County Council, in a 2015 photograph by Osioni. Source: Wikimedia Commons.