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Searc's Web Guide to 20th Century Ireland - Thomas Ashe (1885-1917)

Thomas Ashe was born and educated in Dingle, County Kerry where he became a school teacher and a member of the Gaelic League. During the 1916 Easter Rising Ashe commanded the Fingal Battalion of Volunteers who took Ashbourne, County Meath for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Ashe was imprisoned in Lewes Gaol, England until August, 1917 when he was transferred to Mountjoy Gaol, Dublin. Thomas Ashe died of heart and lung failure on September 25th, 1917 in the Mater Hospital, Dublin only hours after being transferred from Mountjoy Gaol where he had been on hunger-strike and had endured force-feeding.
Ashe composed Let Me Carry Your Cross for Ireland, Lord! while a prisoner in Lewes Gaol. 'The land of heart's desire' of the second stanza is a reference to W.B. Yeats' play of the same title. The 'Roisin Dubh' of the third stanza is one of the names used to personify Ireland in Irish poetry since the early 17th century.©




Thomas Ashe

Thomas Ashe

Let Me Carry Your Cross for Ireland, Lord!
Let me carry your cross for Ireland, Lord!
The hour of her trial draws near,
And the pangs and the pains of the sacrifice
May be borne by Comrades dear,
But, Lord, take me from the offering throng,
There are many far less prepared,
Though anxious and all as they are to die
That Ireland may be spared.

Let me carry your cross for Ireland, Lord!
My cares in this world are few,
And few are the tears which fall to me
When I go on my way to you.
Spare, Oh! Spare to their loved ones dear
The brother and son and sire,
That the cause we love may never die
In the land of our heart's desire.

Let me carry your cross for Ireland, lord!
Let me suffer the pain and shame,
I bow my name to their rage and hate,
And I take on myself the blame,
Let them do with my body what'er they will,
My spirit I offer to you,
That the fateful few who heard her call
May be spared to Roisin Dubh.

Let me carry you cross for Ireland, Lord!
For Ireland weak with tears,
For the aged man of the clouded brow,
And the child of tender years;
For the empty homes of her golden plains;
For the hopes of the future too.
Let me carry your cross for Ireland, Lord!
And the cause of Roisin Dubh.


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