Boolavogue, also spelt Boolavoge or Boleyvogue (Irish: Buaile Mhaodhóg), is a village 12 km northeast of Enniscorthy in County Wexford, Ireland. It is in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ferns.
It has given its name to “Boolavogue”, a famous Irish ballad commemorating the Irish Rebellion of 1798, when the local parish priest Father John Murphy led his parishioners into battle on May 26, 1798. The Wexford insurgents were eventually defeated at the Battle of Vinegar Hill on June 21. Father Murphy and the other rebel leaders were killed. Fr Murphy was hanged, then decapitated, his corpse burnt in a barrel of tar and his head placed on a spike as a warning to other rebels, many of whom nevertheless fought on for up to five years afterwards.
The United Irishmen, a republican revolutionary group influenced by the ideas of the American and French revolutions, were the main organising force behind the rebellion.
The 1798 rebellion has inspired many of our most popular ballads and songs. Many of the best known ballads about the events of 1798 were not written until the second half of the 19th century.
Among the most famous of these are “At Boolavogue” and “Kelly from Killanne” composed by P.J. McCall. Boolavogu was written by J. P. McCall during the second half of the nineteenth century. It was originally known as Youghal Harbor. It is also known as Father Murphy. Boulavogue is a town in Wexford.
During the Irish Uprising of 1798 only the Wexford uprising had some success. This was in part due to the efforts of Father John Murphy. When the insurgents entered Wexford town on the 30th May 1798, they came with green banners flying.
They later hoisted a green flag above the barracks on the quayside. Because of the shortage of green flags used by rebel corps, it was customary to display banners of all colours except orange which was supposedly disliked by the people.
The Wexford rebels were defeated at Vinegar Hill and Father Murphy and the other rebel leaders were hanged.
At Boulavogue as the sun was setting
On the bright May meadows of Shelmaliar,
A rebel hand set the heather blazing
And brought the neighbours from far and near.
Then Father Murphy from old Kilcormack
Spurred up the rocks with a warning cry;
“Arm, arm,” he cried, “for I’ve come to lead you;
For Ireland’s freedom we’ll fight or die.”
He led us on ‘gainst the coming soldiers;
The cowardly yeomen we put to flight.
‘Twas at the Harra the boys of Wexford
Showed Bookies’ regiment how men could fight.
Look out for hirelings, King George of England,
Search ev’ry kingdom that breathes a slave,
For Father Murphy from the county Wexford
Sweeps o’er the land like a mightly wave.
At Vinegar Hill o’er the pleasant Slaney
Our heroes vainly stood back to back,
And the Yoes at Tullow took Father Murphy
And burned his body upon the rack.
God grant you glory, brave Father Murphy,
And open heaven to all your men;
For the cause that called you may call tomorrow
In another fight for the green again.
Fr. John Murphy
Fr. John Murphy was born at Tincurry in the Parish of Ferns, County Wexford.
He studied in Spain, and returned to Ireland in 1785 when he became curate at Boolavogue. In 1797, many Catholic clergymen swore allegiance (or loyalty) to the British Crown.
They encouraged local people to give up their weapons, and in return, receive”protections” from the government. However many people had to leave their homes toavoid persecution by the Yeomanry.This is said to have driven Fr. Murphy into the rebellion.
On 27th May, Fr. Murphy led a large group of pike-men and defeated a party of government troops at Oulart, the next day he took Camolin and Enniscorthy, andencamped on Vinegar Hill. After defeats at Arklow and Vinegar Hill, Fr. Murphy joined a rebel group that passed through Scollagh Gap. They crossed the river Barrow and were defeated at Kilcumney.
Fr. Murphy went to Tullow where he was arrested. He was executed there with James Gallagher on 2nd July.