E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Lilli-Burlero or Lilli-Bullero and Bullen-a-lah.
Said to have been the words of distinction used by the Irish Papists in their massacres of the Protestants in 1641. A song with the refrain of Lilli-burlero, bullen-a-la! was written by Lord Wharton, which had a more powerful effect than the philippics of either Demosthens or Cicero, and contributed not a little to the great revolution of 1688. Burnet says, It made an impression on the [kings] army that cannot be imagined . The whole army, and at last the people, both in city and country, were singing it perpetually never had so slight a thing so great an effect. The song is in Percys Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, series ii. bk. 3. (See Sterne: Tristram Shandy, chap. ii.)