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Dudley Lee the Blackleg
Martin Howley
Fanore, north west Clare
Recorded 1976

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Martin Howley

There’s a spot in old Ireland by the name of Murrough,
Where the people lived happy with hearts loyal and true.
Til a breeze from the ocean drew glór o’er the sea
Til a blackleg appeared there named one Dudley Lee.

Now gentler readers, to explain the whole case:
A teacher came amongst us named Michael O’Shea.
His conduct was tested and his teaching supreme.
The people all liked him now it’s plain to be seen.

Deprived of his rights by a manager’s cruel laws,
To prove to the board, for an enquiry they called.
The charges against him were unfounded and low,
And O’Shea was evicted from his school in Fanore.

To replace this poor victim with a wife from the place,
A blackleg was appointed instead of O’Shea.
But before he got time for to call his first roll,
Seven stalwart young fellows threw him out on the road.

The police, they were present, took the names of those few,
And ransacked their law-heads to an act that would sue.
The fight was selected as we all know too well
And each was confined to a dark prison cell.

Now the teachers of Ireland now demand the truth,
And they laid down the laws that were made in Maynooth.
But the treaty was broken, O’Shea was disowned,
But now they are building a school of his own.

When the new school is finished we all shall agree,
We’ll give a send-off to poor Dudley Lee.
He may grunt, he may grumble throwing weights with a stone
Or curse the first day that he left his foot in Fanore.

This song is about the Fanore School Case (1914-1922) during which the principal of Fanore National School, Michael O’Shea, was dismissed from his post by the school manager Fr Patrick Keran, allegedly for refusing to marry the assistant teacher in the school as he was engaged to another woman. O’Shea’s post was eventually filled by Gerard Lee. This song, not surprisingly, lays the bulk of the blame at the door of the replacement teacher, rather than the priest who issued the order."
Jim Carroll

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