"The Wearing of the Green" is an anonymously-penned Irish street ballad dating to 1798. The context of the song is the repression around the time of the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Wearing a shamrock in the "caubeen" (hat) was a sign of rebellion and green was the colour of the Society of the United Irishmen, a republican revolutionary organisation. During the period, displaying revolutionary insignia was made punishable by hanging.
O Paddy dear, an' did ye hear the news that's goin' round?
The shamrock is by law forbid to grow on Irish ground;
St. Patrick's Day no more we'll keep, his colour can't be seen,
For there's a bloody law against the wearin' o' the Green.
O I met with Napper Tandy, and he took me by the hand
And he asked 'How's poor old Ireland, and how does she stand?'
She's the most distressful country this world has yet to see
For they're hangin' men and women there for wearin' o' the green
And if the colour we must wear is England's cruel red,
Will serve to remind us of all the blood that she has shed,
So take the shamrock from your hat and cast it in the sod,
But never fear, 'twill take root there, though under foot 'tis trod
When law can stop the blades of grass from growin' as they grow,
And when the leaves in summer time, their colours dare not show,
Then I too will change the colour I wear in my caubeen,
But 'till that day, praise God, I'll stick to wearin' o' the green.