Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Answer's Ireland

John Dengate

Who gave Australia the tunes to sing, the tunes of songs so grand?
Songs to inspire, full of beauty and fire – the answer's Ireland.
Know when you sing of Jack Donahue, that he was a Dublin man
And Dennis O'Reilly is travelling still with a blackthorn in his hand.

Who raised a ruckus at Castle Hill, who there defied the crown?
'Twas the same rebel boys who in '98 'gainst odds would not lie down.
Oh, but they made Samuel Marsden fret and ruffled silver tails,
Why, the words "Croppy Pike" were enough to strike fear into New South Wales.

Who agitated at Ballarat for Joe Latrobe's death knell?
Who was it raised up the five-starred flag and damned the traps to hell?
Who was it gathered beneath that flag, where solemn oaths were sworn?
Who would not run from the redcoats' guns, upon Eureka morn?

Ned Kelly's dad was an Irish lad, the Kellys all died game.
Brave Michael Dwyer's bones are buried here, we'll not forget that name.
Who could resist Larry Foley's fist, and Foley wore the green.
Who led the anti-conscription ranks in 1917?

Today's song is in honour of St Patrick's Day.

NOTES FROM MUDCAT(contributed by "Simon"):

John Dengate is well-known in local Irish and folk music circles for his witty (often satirical) songs and poems, having had a lengthy history in those areas.

For those who don't know, John ('Bold Jack') Donohue (1806 – 1830) was a bushranger in the Sydney region until he was shot by police. (One version of The Wild Colonial Boy uses his name.) Dennis O'Reilly is the subject of an eponymous song by and about early Irish settlers in Australia.The second verse refers to the involvement in the convict uprising of 1804 of Irish transportees who had earlier taken part in the 1798 Rising in Ireland. The latter were called 'Croppies' by their enemies
and both groups often had only pikes for weapons – just long blades attached to poles.

The Rev. Samuel Marsden was a wealthy landowner and magistrate at Parramatta when our Battle of Vinegar Hill took place, known and feared as 'the Flogging Parson'.

Charles Joseph Latrobe was Governor of Victoria during the Eureka Stockade confrontation of 1854, of which no more should need to be said.

The reference to Michael Dwyer (1722? – 1825) is of interest, as he was a leader of the 1798 Rising whom the British were unable to capture until he surrendered on his own terms. He and his family were sent to Sydney in 1806 and were received 100 acres of uncleared land in the Liverpool region. Dwyer and his wife are buried under the Irish Monument at Waverly Cemetery, the building of which commenced in 1898 to commemorate the Rising.

Laurence Foley (1849 – 1917) was a professional boxer who never lost a fight and retired at the age of 32 with sufficient prize money to open a hotel and a boxing academy in Sydney. As far as we can determine, his only Green credentials came from being the leader of a Catholic 'larrikin' gang in Inner Sydney as a young man. In 1871, he fought his Protestant (Orange) counterpart, Sandy Owens, in a street for 71 rounds before the police intervened – Foley was considered the likely winner.
Lastly, attempts to introduce conscription during World War I were fiercely opposed by many groups, not least by those of Irish extraction whose priority it was to complete the work of the 1916 Easter Rising rather than to go to war 'for King and Country'.

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