Orange proposes union. Orange is the source of all woe. The English do no more harm than the purple marksmen. Orange ask for union only after Billy Pitt's failure. The singer is neither Croppy nor Orange: "when your county's in danger, united be seen"
The last verse is by a third party asking for union in times of trouble. Throughout the rest of the dialogue Orange proposes union and croppie rejects it.
Zimmermann, p. 39, fn. 18, re "Croppy": In the 1790's those who admired the Jacobin ideas began to crop their hair short on the back of the head, in what was said to be the new French fashion; in 1798 this was considered as an evidence of 'disaffection'."
"The Loyal Orange Institution was founded after the Battle of the Diamond [at Diamond Crossroads] on September 21, 1795. The 'skirmish' was between the Roman Catholic Defenders and the Protestants of the area.... [For the Battle of the Diamond, see the notes to "The Battle of the Diamond," "Bold McDermott Roe," and "The Boys of Wexford"; also "The Grand Mystic Order." - RBW].At the beginning the membership was of the labouring and artisan classes.... In the Rebellion of 1798, the Orangemen were on the side of the Crown and had much to do with the defeat of the United Irishmen.... With the rebellion at an end the lodges were to be less fighting societies, and more political and fraternal clubs.... From 1815, the Institution had been seriously affected, by internal disputes. Many of them were about lodge ritual and the attempts to form higher orders." (source: _The Orange Institution - The Early Years_ at Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland site.)
"Following an affray at Loughgall in Co. Armagh in 1795 the Orange Order was founded, while the Yeomen were also established in June 1796. These were made up mainly of men from the Orange Lodges." (source: _The 1798 Rebellion_ on the Hogan Stand site)
The reference to "Purple Marksmen" is to one of the Master degree, above "Orange" and "Orange Marksman," of the Orange Institution (source: "The Formation of the Orange Order 21st September 1795" in the anti-Orange _Evangelical Truth_ at NIreland.com site). See Zimmermann's song references to "The Purple Marksman" [p. 315] and "The Purple Stream" [p. 303, fn. 39].
For more on "Billy Pitt" and the Union Act of 1801, see "Billy Pitt and the Union" and "The Shan Van Voght (1848)" - BS
One should note that this song was clearly composed with the benefit of hindsight -- I suspect very much hindsight; if the date is 1887, then we're getting toward the period of Home Rule and Ulster's opposition to changes in the Union. Of course, there had been Protestant and Catholic conflicts before that, but Protestants historically had been *more* nationalist than Catholics; it wasn't until it became clear that the Protestant Ascendency had to end that they finally turned Unionist. - RBW