Friday, June 24, 2011

Ronald Ryan

Mark Cryle

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Ronald Ryan was the poor bastard son
of a drunken miner who died of black lung
That was the depression, he was born in 25
mother turning tricks just to keep the kids alive

That's a good start for a life of crime
he was no gangster, strictly small time
but a 13 year stretch, he'd do 5 for sure
a Friday 13th, November 64

If there's a hard way to live
If there's an easy way to die
If he leadeth me
The quiet waters by
don't ask me for my tears
Or for whom the bells toll
He can't save my neck
Can he save my soul

Ronald was a schemer
Rising for a fall
With Peter Walker he went over that wall
One Pentridge warder lay dead as he fell
Who pulled that trigger
You probably can tell

3 weeks after the boys had flown the coop
Tipped off in Sydney, the cops made their swoop
In the dock he stood there
Sentence was read
Guilty of murder, hanged until dead

the judge and jury never thought he would swing
But the men in power had votes to win
give me law and order
the cry of the day
Ronald Ryan was the bastard who paid

While there's a gathering at the Coburg hotel
Ronald takes communion inside his cell
One nip of whisky before he goes
Candles and protests out on Sydney Road

They fit the shackles, then they fit the cap
They hit the lever, you plummet through the trap
the hangman's table, it's all worked out
Pray that the rope is strong and the beam is stout

Executed at 8 a.m. on 3 February 1967 in Pentridge gaol, Ronald Ryan was the last man to be judicially hanged in Australia. This song by Brisbane's Mark Cryle, was performed by Steve Cook and John Thompson at the Top Half Folk Club in Darwin on 2 June, 2011.

The photograph is of Ryan at the time of his arrest.

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