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Local Songs

The Trial of P. Arkins

Well known Ennistymon man, Michael John Gylnn of ‘The Clare Champion’ procured this song of litigation following agrarian unrest from Mrs C. Meehan of Circular Road, Ennistymon. It is attributed to a Mrs Nora Considine (nee Murphy) N.T. Kilshanny and a date of 1903 is suggested for its composition. Arkins came from Ballinacarra, Kilfenora and the trial centres on the knocking of a boundary wall. Rather than an act of personal malice the wall-knocking seems to have been part of general disturbances in the area in which tenant farmers and others made their feelings known in this way to unpopular landlords and the authorities.

Spreely: can find no explanation

’Twas on a black December day,
The hills of Clare were far away,
And hirelings ready to betray
A gallant Irish boy.

Judge Dodd was robed in scarlet gown
And G. McSweeney for the crown,
While Michael Comyn won renown,
For his defence that day.

The case was called, the jury packed,
McSweeney read the Whiteboy Act,
The peeler swore it was a fact
That Arkins knocked the wall.

Then Comyn dressed the peeler down,
“Take care” says Dodd “You’ll lose the gown
At Munster Bar and Dublin Town
You have with honour worn.”

To this the Council gave no heed,
He was a man of noble breed
It warmed the heart to hear him plead
With eloquence sublime.

The jury it was badly packed
And seeing the peelers spreely hacked
Could not agree about the fact
That Arkins knocked the wall.

But Sweeney knows that rebel Cork
Has still twelve men to do his work
A jury bloody as the Turk
Young Arkins will condemn.

Then spoke the judge in accents low
“To penal servitude you go,
For I’m the judge and you the foe
Of England and the King.

“You’re doomed for seven long years to dwell
A captive lone in convict cell,
Unless your comrades names you tell
And yield them up to me.”

But Arkins was of brave men born,
From love and kindred basely torn
Cast on that judge a look of scorn
And proved himself a man.

And while his memory lives in Clare,
No cruel judge will ever dare
To ask her manly sons to wear,
The emblem of a spy.

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