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The Girl With The Beret

from The Girl With The Beret by Kate O'Callaghan

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Written by Kate O'Callaghan

"While tending to the wounded in the GPO, Catherine Rooney (neé Byrne) was approached by Padraig Pearse and asked if she would take a dispatch to the Four Courts. She watched Joseph Plunkett, who was looking very ill, write the note by hand before giving it to Mr. Pearse. She noted that Joseph wore a gold bangle on his arm and remarked, to her self, how funny it was to see a man wear a bangle and how she wished she owned it instead. Catherine describes how she took her beret off and pinned the dispatch inside her thick hair and then tied it up with a pink ribbon and placed the beret back on her head. She delivered this important dispatch to the Four Courts and afterwards, as she tried to get back to the GPO she describes an extraordinary experience where she narrowly escapes her own death. Having spotted a man she knew, on watch in the top room of a building, she went up to have a look through his field glasses. While doing so a shot was fired, she stood back in the room, and observed the bullet lodged in a door behind her. Having being asked if she was ok, she took her beret off her head and discovered two bullet holes in it.
I found this particular story fascinating considering the ultimate and sad fate of the man who had given her this note, which she carried hidden in her hair, under this beret. Her brief encounter with Joseph Plunkett, and her reference to his gold bangle seemed all the more poignant knowing Plunkett's own heartbreaking story (being married in Kilmainham Jail to Grace Gifford just hours before his own execution) and I felt compelled to weave their stories together into this song called The Girl with The Beret".


Hair wound thick round the note that he wrote
Safe and hidden and bound by a ribbon
Of pink silken courage, a stalwart array
Wrapped in the tale of a velvet beret

Laced with a blessing in Gaelic of old
She took her instruction and did what was told
But she couldn't help notice what hung from his hand
A strange golden bangle the colour of sand


What kind of man would wear such a thing
A man of great wealth or maybe a king
Or maybe a lover who wants to remember
The reason he fights for his Grace-full defender

For he was a poet, a scholar of prose
Immersed in a language of one who hopes
Hopes for the tempest that roared up and broke
His mad heart that died when his wild love awoke


The girl with the beret knew not of despair
On the day that she carried his note in her hair
To the men on guard at the gates of the courts
Delivered with pride, a message of force

And on her way back through streets under fire
She climbed to the top of a look out tower
And the whistling sound of a bullet did pass
By her head as she watched through the looking glass, the looking glass

Two holes left in the beret that she wore
That carried the note from the man on the floor
With the strange golden bangle the colour of sand
A gift from his lover in turn for his hand

But the joy of the young girl's narrow escape
Was shrouded in sorrow by a cruel twist of fate
As the kindness of mercy that spared her that day
Surrendered the love of the poet who lay

In the grave of his marriage to the woman that he loved
For they wed in the chapel just hours before
The young Joseph Plunkett was shot in the head
And the strange golden bangle was all that was left

And the girl with the beret...
She remembered.


from The Girl With The Beret, released October 3, 2016
Kate O'Callaghan (Vocals and Guitar)
Seamus Devenny (Pump Organ and Violins)
Tim Jarvis (Cello)
Paul Devenny (Viola)


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Kate O'Callaghan County Donegal, Ireland

Kate O'Callaghan is a singer/songwriter based in Donegal, Ireland. Combining evocative melodies with intelligent considered lyrics, she covers a gamut of styles and emotions from Alt. Folk to Jazzy/Blues, the sublime to the cathartic. Evocative, haunting, poignant and refreshingly uplifting, with a unique aspect that explores the less obvious paths tonally as much as the expected. ... more

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