Entrenchment of Ross, The
DESCRIPTION: French. Sir Maurice and Sir Walter feud. New Ross council decides to build a wall. Each day, beginning Candlemas, a different group of merchants, priests,... work on the ditch. Sunday ladies lay up stones for the wall. The defence plans are described.
AUTHOR: Fr Michael Kyldare (1308) (translated by Mrs George Maclean, 1831) (source: Croker-PopularSongs)
EARLIEST DATE: 1829 (_Archaeologia_ vol xxii, according to Croker-PopularSongs)
KEYWORDS: foreignlanguage feud music
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Croker-PopularSongs, pp. 262-287, "The Entrenchment of Ross" (French and English texts plus extensive notes)
ADDITIONAL: Thomas Kinsella, _The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse_ (Oxford, 1989), pp. 102-106, "The Fortification of New Ross" (1 text, excerpted from Croker)
NOTES: Croker-PopularSongs: "The [Anglo-Norman] ballad on the entrenchment of New Ross, in 1265 ... is here given as a specimen of ancient local song.... " Madden writes about an Harleian MS [913, Art 43] in the British Museum containing a "collection of pieces in verse and prose, apparently the production of an Irish ecclesiastic, ...."
Croker-PopularSongs: "It appears evident from [the ballad] that the inhabitants [of New Ross] feared that, in the war between two powerful barons, they should be exposed to insult and reprisal from the Irish who were engaged in the quarrel.... The corporate towns ... walled themselves, in order to be able to preserve their neutrality in the wars of the district which surrounded them.... The whole tenor of this very remarkable song shows that it was written when the fosse [ditch] was nearly finished, but before the walls were begun.... It is ... to be presumed that the fosse was not quite completed when the song now given was composed by some merry minstrel of the place on the day noted at the conclusion, and it was perhaps sung at the corporation dinner after their work." - BS
Although the event is Irish, it really sounds to me as if the song was influenced by the story of Nehemiah's rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem in the book of Nehemiah (especially chapter three). Although the Book of Nehemiah doesn't spend nearly as much time on descriptions of those who worked.
New Ross remained a crossroads and fortified market town at the time of the 1798 rebellion. I gather some of the fortifications still stood, though they were in pretty bad shape by then; according to Thomas Pakenham The Year of Liberty, 1969, 1997 (I use the 2000 Abacus paperback edition), p. 195, portions of the wall had been demolished by Cromwell, and the gates widened to improve commerce.. - RBW
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