In the wake of the 1798 Rebellion, the brothers Grimes, all of whom were executed by the British, were betrayed by a member of their company, about whom the Northman who had organised them had warned before abandoning them. One of the group, a freemason called Campbell, was said to have got off the charge by giving the masonic sign of distress, and so he in the folklore telling ios often in insinuation more than direct accusation accused of being the betrayer. However, the name is known of who did give the word to the Crown – but it will not be repeated as many are alive today who are related to them.
At Ballinamuck defeated
The battle lost and won
In British style British justice
Must be seen, it was said, to be done.
The trials, they were just for show
For the condemned there was no hope
The cases were closed before they were opened
The defendants were for the rope
What could the judge do in his wisdom
Without risking his own neck in the noose
What could he do for those there for who
Legal argument was no use?
One man, a mason, stories tell
As in wonder the others there stared
The sign of distress showed to the judge
Upon which his life was spared.
Some tell the tale as if to say
His word was what betrayed the Brothers Grimes
It was not so, the fact we know
In these more peaceful times
But the cruel word is sometimes spoken
By which such things are surmised
But those would have sold out the Baptist himself
By whom Christ in the waters was baptised.
Bad luck to those who for money
Gave the information and so fate was set
The man Campbell blamed for saving his own neck
When the Grimes brothers met their death
For it was not the mason among their ranks
Of whom the Northman had warned
Before abandoning them, being compromised
His warnings derided and scorned.
Barely remembered in our times
Who by all in their day were known
Did they know who gave them away
As we today have known?
Did the judge want to set them all free
But could only his membership use
To save his own neck from the rope to which he condemned
That no legal argument could refuse?
I know not that but I do know this
As the wind in the leaves has played
It was not by a Masons word
The Grimes brothers were betrayed.