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John Mitchel
(Roud 5163)
Mikey Kelleher
Quilty and Depford, London
Recorded in London, 1977

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Mikey Kelleher

So I am a true-borned Irish boy, John Mitchel is my name.
And to join my native countrymen, from Newry town I came.
I struggled hard both day and night, to free my native land.
By which I’m now transported into a foreign land.

First when I joined my comrade men, it being in fortytwo,
Those things that'll follow after I will plainly tell to you.
He raised the standard of Repeal, and gloried on the deed.
And he vowed to heaven he’d never rest, until Ireland would be free.

He was locked in a prison cell before his trial day,
And his loving wife she came to him, and though these words she says:
‘John, my dear, cheer up your heart, and lonely do not be,
It’s better to die for Erin’s rights, than to live in slavery.’

‘Dear loving wife it breaks my heart when I think of parting you.
Likewise my young and tender babes, great God what will they do?
My friends and kind relations, they will mourn for my downfall.
And to part with you, dear loving wife, it grieves me worse than all.’

He was taken before the magistrate, on his trial day.
The magistrate spoke up to him, and those words to him did say:
He was offered there his liberty, if he’d forsake the cause.
Well he’d sooner die nine thousand deaths, than to be ruled by British laws.

And he was locked in a convict ship, in strong irons he was bound.
And seeing his native countrymen, they assembled there all around.
It was up on deck he went to take a last and farewell view.
He had shed a tear, but not through fear, for my native land and you.


“Mitchel, an Irish revolutionary, was a strong advocate of a peasant-led rebellion to establish independence for Ireland. In 1848, he was found guilty of treason by a ‘loaded’ jury, and sentenced to fourteen years transportation to Australia. Five years later he escaped from Tasmania and managed to make his way to America. Ironically, while there he became a leading supporter of slavery and the southern cause. He returned to Ireland in 1875, where he became Member of Parliament for Co. Tipperary. We also recorded this from Wexford Traveller 'Pop’s' Johnny Connors who says he first heard it as ‘The Convict’s Chain’ played on the pipes by his grand-uncle Johnny Doran, the legendary travelling piper.”
Jim Carroll

See also
John Mitchell sung by Vincie Boyle

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