This work is a compilation of songs, poems and tunes set in Ireland over the four decades between the American Revolution and the Battle of Waterloo. It demonstrates how the events of those years inspired literary effort in each generation. The material is drawn from tradition and from print and manuscript collecton. The print collections include contemporary and early sources: the various editions of "Paddy's Resource", Watty Cox's "Irish Magazine" and Madden's "Literary Remains of the United Irishmen" and all available collections of songs and music have been examined to identify suitable material. Many of the traditional songs have been notated directly from singers, representing a considerable addition to the literature of traditional song. The appropriate music is included for all the songs, with the words accompanying the tunes. The material breaks down into: 157 songs (text and tune); 27 poems; and 25 tunes (music only). This includes 15 pieces in the Irish language, 14 from loyalist sources, and 10 written by members of the United Irishmen, including Wolfe Tone, Henry Joy McCracken, Jemmy Hope and Robert Emmet.
The themes covered by the material include organizations such as the Defenders, the Orange Order, the Volunteers and the United Irishmen; and historical events such as the American and French revolutions; the American War of Independence; the campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte and the United Irish rebellions of 1798 and 1803. All pieces are provided with notes listing the source and musical associations of the item, as well as the historical and political background. These provide the context in which this material may be understood and enjoyed.