Young Ned Of The Hill (2:45)

Cover of Peace and Love

From Peace and Love and 18 other releases

“Éamonn an Chnoic” (“Ned of the Hill”) is a popular song in traditional Irish music. It is a slow, mournful ballad with a somber theme and no chorus.

The song concerns Éamonn Ó Riain (Edmund Ryan), an Irish aristocrat who lived in County Tipperary from 1670 – 1724 and led a bandit or rapparee gang. Although there is no positive proof of Ryan’s existence, he is mentioned in a pamphlet of 1694, in which he and four other raparee leaders called for the overthrow of William of Orange in favour of the Catholic James II.[1]

The background to Ryan’s career was the confiscation of Irish Catholic land in the Act of Settlement 1652 after the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland when many dispossessed landowners became outlaws, known as “tories” or “rapparees”. Their ranks were swelled after the Williamite War of 1689-91, when many of the defeated Catholic Jacobites turned to banditry. It is likely that Ryan himself served in the Jacobite army.

It is said that Ryan became a rapparee or outlaw after shooting a tax collector dead during a quarrel over the confiscation of a poor woman’s cow. Various other stories are told in which Ó Riain plays the role of the rebel hero who battles authority in the mode of Robin Hood and countless others.

The song is usually sung in Irish, but various English versions are popular as well. Here is one:

Oh dark is the evening and silent the hour
Oh who is that minstrel by yon shady tower?
Whose harp is so tenderly touching with skill

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Have you ever walked the lonesome hills and heard the curlews cry
Or seen the raven black as night upon a windswept sky
To walk the purple heather and hear the westwind cry
To know that's where the Rapparee must die

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics

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