Something for the weekend. The Clancy Brothers singing The Wild Colonial Boy on the Ed Sullivan show. The song is based upon the exploits of bandit Jack Donahue. Born in Dublin in 1804, Donahue, an orphan as well as a pickpocket, was transported to Australia in 1825 after being convicted of intent to commit a felony. After he saw his cell in Syndey, he exclaimed, “A home for life”. Two whippings of 50 lashes could not break his rebellious spirit and he escaped into the bush with two other prisoners. There they formed a gang that became known as “The Strippers” because of their penchant of stripping wealthy men of their money, food and clothes. In 1827 he was captured and sentenced to death. Escaping yet again to the bush, he became part of a gang known as “The Wild Colonial Boys.” On September 1, 1830, his criminal career and life came to an end in a shootout with authorities. Donohue achieved earthly immortality in a play and the song “The Wild Colonial Boy“. Condemned as seditious, the song morphed his name into several variants, the most popular being Jack Duggan.
Something for the weekend. I feel in the mood for a little Irish rebel music, and nothing fits the bill better than The Rising of the Moon sung by the Clancy Brothers. The song, written around 1865, celebrates the Irish rising of 1798, when Protestant and Catholic Irishmen, with the help of a small French invasion force, launched a rebellion, probably the largest and most hard fought revolt against English rule in the history of Ireland. Like all such Irish revolts, except for the last one, it was defeated and drowned in blood. However, the Irish have ever celebrated their defeats even more than their victories, and the Rising of the Moon is a fitting tribute. Continue reading
Something for the weekend. A very spirited rendition of The Wild Colonial Boy by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem on the Ed Sullivan Show on March 13, 1965. to those of you who were not alive then, it is hard to convey the cultural impact of the Ed Sullivan Show in the America of that time. Suffice it to say that until the late Sixties, Sullivan was the cultural gatekeeper of America. Until a new entertainer appeared on Sullivan’s show, he or she had not yet achieved mainstream acceptance. Today a show having that type of influence would be impossible. Continue reading
Something for the weekend. The Clancy Brothers pay tribute to the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin which, although completely unsuccessful, started a chain of events which led to Irish independence, the dream of Irish men and women for centuries. The songs featured are Legion of the Rearguard, the Foggy Dew and God Bless England. Ironically, Legion of the Rearguard has nothing to do with the battle for Irish independence. It was written during the Irish Civil War which was fought in 1922-23. The title of the song is from Eamon de Valera, who led the rebels and who, ironically, would end up leading independent Ireland for most of the rest of the Twentieth Century, and who admitted defeat in the Irish Civil War with his usual purple prose:
Soldiers of the Republic! Legion of the Rearguard! The Republic can no longer be defended successfully by your arms. Further sacrifice of life would be in vain, and continuance of the struggle in arms unwise in the National interest. Military victory must be allowed to rest for the moment with those who have destroyed the Republic.
De Valera of course was referring in his phrase to “those who have destroyed the Republic” to men like Michael Collins, who was killed in the Civil War, who were responsible for the creation of an independent Ireland. De Valera, at the end of the Irish fight for independence, realizing that the only terms that the British would grant which would lead to an independent Ireland would be unacceptable to many hard core Irish Republicans, refused to engage in the negotiations with the British himself, sending Collins instead, over the protests of Collins. When Collins came back with the best treaty terms possible that would be granted by the British, de Valera denounced him and the treaty and the Irish Civil War was the result. De Valera therefore got the benefit of the treaty terms, an Irish Free State, while still able to pose as an uncompromising champion of complete independence, something which benefited him politically to no end, for over half a century after Collins died in the Civil War de Valera started after he rejected the treaty. Very shrewd of de Valera. The morality I will leave for the reader to judge. Continue reading