Faugh A Ballagh

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Regimental colours of the Royal Irish Regiment IV in St. Macartin's Cathedral carrying the motto Faugh A Ballagh

Faugh a Ballagh (/ˌfɔːɡ ə ˈbæləx/ FAWKH ə BAL-əkh; also written Faugh an Beallach) is a battle cry of Irish origin, meaning "clear the way". The spelling is an 18th-century anglicization of the Irish language phrase Fág an Bealach [ˈfˠaːɡ ənˠ ˈbʲalˠəx], also written Fág a' Bealach. Its first recorded use as a regimental motto was by the Royal Irish Fusiliers in 1798. It remains the motto of the Royal Irish Regiment today.[1][2]

It was adopted due to the blood curdling battle-cry of Sergeant Patrick Masterson as he tore into the French ranks, with Ensign Keogh, to capture the first French Imperial Eagle to be taken in battle – during the Battle of Barossa. He was then heard to cry 'Be Jabers Boys! I have the Cuckoo!' as he held it triumphantly aloft to rouse the spirits of his men.[citation needed] Ensign Keogh did not survive the daring dash into the French ranks.

It was popularized outside of Ireland during the American Civil War by the Army of the Potomac's Irish Brigade – composed of the 69th New York Volunteer Infantry (NYVI) or "Fighting 69th", the 63rd & 88th NYVI, and later the 116th Pennsylvania and 28th Massachusetts Infantry regiments. A variant transliteration of the motto, 'Faj an Bealac!' was inscribed on the regimental colors of the (Federal) 7th Missouri Volunteer Infantry, the "Irish Seventh", which fought in the Civil War's Western Theater as part of Grant and Sherman's Army of the Tennessee.

The motto was also adopted by the 55th Battalion of the Australian 5th Division during the First World War.

Since then it has appeared rather infrequently in spoken language but has enjoyed some popularity in print, appearing on mugs, t-shirts, etc.

Historian and musician Derek Warfield released a book and companion CD, which he entitled "Clear the Way", dealing with the history of the 69th Regiment.

There is also a dam and a road in Bendigo, Australia which is named Faugh A Ballagh.

The phrase is referenced in the Dropkick Murphys' "The Legend of Finn MacCumhail" and "Heroes From Our Past"

The Irish language form of the phrase Fág an Bealach was used as the title of a recent two part documentary series on the Irish Brigade in the American Civil War broadcast on the Irish language television channel TG4.[3]

The phrase is used in Irish Road Bowling to clear the road before a shot.

During the American Civil War in Company I, 8th Alabama Infantry Regiment, 104 of the 109 men were Irish Born. The men wore dark green uniforms; their banner was a Confederate Flag on one side with a full-length figure of George Washington in the center. The reverse was green, with a harp, shamrocks, and the slogans "Erin-go bragh" (Ireland forever) and "Faugh- a ballagh"- Clear the way.

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