“The Burning of Rosslea”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1973 (Morton-Maguire)
Keywords: battle rebellion fire IRA police
Found in: Ireland


The rebels march to Rosslea and start burning houses of RIC B's in the center of town. In return B's "pillaged and looted and carried away, The stuff of poor Catholics" A month later the B's "three houses they burned for each one in Rosslea."


RIC: Sir Robert Peel established the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1812. (source: _Sir Robert "Bobby" Peel (1788-1850)_ at Historic UK site.) For more information on the Black and Tan War see RBW note for "The Bold Black and Tan."- BS

Morton-Maguire: "During the 'troubles' of 1921 the R.I.C. barracks in Rosslea was one of the many in 'risky' area, evacuated at an early stage. When the A-Specials (Mobilized B-Specials) were formed, they took it on themselves to police the area." Morton goes on to discuss the history behind the burning, including an earlier burning of Catholic homes by Specials. In the burning described by the song "fourteen houses were burned, and ... four officers were shot, two fatally." The plan had been to burn sixteen houses and shoot four Specials. - BS

A little internet searching shows that there were killings in Rosslea in 1972 as part of the Troubles. I can't help but wonder if that didn't encourage someone to dust off this song as Morton prepared his book. - RBW

Historical references

Cross references


  1. Morton-Maguire 55, pp. 152-153,176-177, "The Burning of Rosslea" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Roud #2937
  3. BI, MoMa055