Martyr's Lament (The)

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MARTYR'S LAMENT, THE (Caoine Na Mairtireac). AKA – "The Hanging Song." Irish, March or Slow Air (6/8 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. O'Neill [1913] notes:

Every ballad having capital punishment or other harrowing death as a theme was sung to a peculiarly mournful air, in southwest Munster at least, in the last half of the nineteenth century. This lament, which escaped the vigilance of Dr. Petrie and was alluded to as the "hanging song," was published in O'Neill's Music of Ireland, in 1902, as "The Martyr's Lament." It has been pronounced by a distinguished vocalist and lecturer to be unsurpassed among traditional Irish dirges.


Source for notated version:

Printed sources: O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 1844, p. 346. O'Neill (Irish Minstrels and Musicians), 1913; p. 118.

Recorded sources:




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