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The Manchester Martyrs
(Roud 3029)
Tom Lenihan
Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
Recorded 1983

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Tom Lenihan

‘Twas was in November, I well remember,
Two noble heroes to Manchester came.
It was their intention as I now will mention,
To free old Ireland from her tyrants’ chain.
The police viewed them as if they knew them,
And to pursue them they did not fail.
They did surround them with handcuffs bound them,
And marched them prisoners to the County Gaol.

When Allen heard that those men were taken,
To O’Brien and Larkin he quickly flew.
Saying for Colonel Kelly, ‘My heart is breaking,
Oh noble heroes what shall we do?’
They went together with one another
And like loyal brothers they did agree,
Saying, ‘Let every man go up to the van,
And break it open and set them free.’

But now kind friends what followed after ,
Those men were taken as you may see.
Both judge and jury soon found them guilty
And they died true martyrs for their country.
It was sad upon that fatal morning
When their friends assembled to bid farewell.
The choir chanted ora pro nobis,
And they joined chorus in their dreary cells.

The clock struck eight and their friends departed
When the wicked hangman he did appear.
Then they raised their heads and they kissed each other
For they knew their time it was drawing near.
When on the scaffold, they looked around them
Not a son of Éireann was to be seen.
Although for miles they came in thousands,
To see those martyrs die for the green.

Conversation after the song between Tom Lenihan, Pat Mackenzie and Jim Carroll:
Jim: Lovely Tom now who did you have that from?
Tom: I don’t know, I suppose from my old parents Jim, ‘tis an old, old song and I have it with years and years, down from my parents, my father, mother or someone. That’s a long time in the brain but ‘tis a song I never use sing, I didn’t sing it with forty years surely until tonight now I suppose, and that’s the gospel truth, forty years well.

"On November 23rd 1867, William Phillip Allen, Michael Larkin and Michael O'Brien were executed for their part in the escape of two leading members of the Fenian movement, Thomas Kelly and Timothy Deasy from a prison van transporting them to Belle Vue Gaol in Manchester. In the course of the escape a policeman was accidentally shot and killed. The executions of Allen, Larkin and O’Brien in Salford Gaol in 1867 were followed a year later by that of Fenian Michael Barratt in Old Newgate, in London; Barratt’s execution was the last public hanging to be carried out in Britain. The executions were responsible for a huge increase in popular support for Fenianism in Ireland and the partial reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Fenian Movement."

Reference:
The Manchester Martyrs: A Fenian Tragedy, Paul Rose, M.P.
More Irish Street Ballads, Colm O Lochlainn.
Jim Carroll

See also
The Manchester Martyrs sung by Austin Flanagan
The Manchester Martyrs sung by Michael Flanagan


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