“Follow Me Up to Carlow”

Town of Carlow has been commemorated in the famous Irish folk song “Follow Me Up to Carlow”. It is a traditional sixteenth-century Irish rebel song.

Words were written by Patrick Joseph McCall (Irish poet and songwriter born in Dublin). The original “Follow Me Up to Carlow” is an Irish song celebrating the defeat of 3,000 English soldiers at the bloody battle of Glenmalure in the Wicklow Mountains in 1580. They were sent to capture Fiach Mac Hugh O’Byne and destroy his troops. The song was most likely performed by Fiach MacHugh pipers.

Below the version of the song performed by an original, high-energy, traditional Celtic band “Fine Crowd”.

Follow Me Up To Carlow – Fine Crowd

Author Patrick Joseph McCall also wrote many other songs, including “The Boys of Wexford”, “Boolavogue”, “The Lowlands Low” and “Kelly the Boy from Killanne”.

The main purpose of the song “Follow Me Up to Carlow” was to provide strong mobilization for future struggle. The words of the song call on the Irish to stop thinking about the past and to stop being afraid of British strength because they have the leader O’Byrne who can lead them to victory.

That’s why the chorus of the song is Fiach’s scream of the words “Follow Me Up to Carlow”. The song is a general call to arms, a call to rebel against British rule. McCall was a nationalist and liked to look at Ireland’s past as a way to provide inspiration for nationalists in the 19th century to take action to free themselves from British rule.

To this day, “Follow Me Up to Carlow” is a popular song with its irresistible charm, hypnotic melody and lyrics with the mysterious intriguing power of mobilization.

The song is performed by many Irish bands, especially its performance by the band Planxty, who recorded it on their debut album.

Planxty – Follow Me Up To Carlow

The song can be found on the albums of the Celtic rock band Young Dubliners.

Follow Me Up to Carlow – Young Dubliners

It is also performed by such Irish musicians as: Patrick “Paddy” Reilly, Irish folk singer and guitarist, one of the most famous Irish “balladeers”.

Paddy Reilly – Follow Me Up to Carlow

The song was also performed by The High Kings an Irish folk group formed in Dublin in 2008.

The High Kings – Follow Me up to Carlow

It also recorded it on his album Irish punk – folk band Blood or whiskey.

Blood or whiskey – Follow me up to carlow

And Blood Axis – American neo-folk band, who is one of the most controversial bands in the world.

Blood Axis – Follow Me Up To Carlow

Another band performed this song is The Wolfe Tones who are an Irish rebel music band deeply rooted in Irish traditional music.

Follow Me Up To Carlow · Wolfe Tones

One of the newest version of “Follow Me Up To Carlow” from 2018 performed by The Temple Bar All Stars.

The Temple Bar All Stars (Follow Me Up To Carlow)

The Kilkennys, Irelands finest folk and ballad group also recorded “Follow Me up to Carlow” in 2018.

Follow Me up to Carlow · The Kilkennys

Featured image photo I taken in County Carlow Military Museum.

Which version of the song do you like the best?


Blogger. Volunteer. Enthusiast of photography, nature, architecture, and cultural events. Since 2014 living in County Carlow in Ireland.

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