The lyrics to Boolavogue were written by Patrick Joseph (PJ) McCall and set to the Irish air Eochaill, or Youghal Harbour.
There are many versions of this well-loved song on the net. Probably the best-known is the one I heard first, by the Dubliners. The Dubs cut the original song slightly and introduced a riff still used by some other musicians.
I also like Brian Roebuck’s take on Boolavogue. Here’s one with a slideshow, and another slideshow. He sings the long version. Less Dubliners-like are the High Kings (with some odd slide editing). There are many other Boolavogues on YouTube.* A word of warning – some of the comments below the clips contain strong language.
McCall based his song on a much older one, Come All You Warriors, written soon after 1798. Interestingly, Joseph Holt, the Wicklow rebel leader who Biddy Dolan may have had an affair with, mentions the song in his 1837 Memoirs.
Youghal Harbour is a tune many Australians may recognise, as it’s also used for Moreton Bay, written by Irish convict and poet Frank McNamara. Some lines from this song are relevant for Nicholas Delaney, too:
I am a native from Erin’s island
But banished now from my native shore.
* This is possibly the most unusual Boolavogue on the net. I think it’s great!