In response to my query about the reference to “the island of Suloon” the lyrics to “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye,” a reader reports that the British fought five battles in Ceylon in the years 1795-1796, with the Irish being used heavily as cannon fodder. That would seem to narrow down the dates for the composition of the words. I wonder if there was a connection between either the campaign or the song and the Rising of ’98?
Still no word on whether the original lyrics included “They will never take our sons again.”
Speaking of anti-war songs, Mike O’Hare, whose grandmother spent more than a year in prison for opposing World War I, sends a link to the great pacifist lyric of that period, “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to be a Soldier.”