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Mac and Shanahan
(Roud 5221)
Nora Cleary
The Hand, near Miltown Malbay
Recorded in singer's home, July 1976

Carroll Mackenzie Collection


Those Christmas times, mavourneen, are not like the times of old,
When the lights of love shone merrily and our pulses felt no cold.
The laughter of those two young hearts around our firesides merrily,
And the laughter of those young hearts are gone, a stór mo chroí.

It was in a cold December’s night those bloodhounds made their way
To Reidy’s house in Newtown, not far from Doonbeg Bay.
It was there poor Mac and Shanahan in irons firm were bound.
They were placed in a lorry by Black and Tans and brought to Kilrush Town.

Next day they were asked to give the names of those, their comrades bold.
And were offered their full liberty if their honour thus they sold.
They refused quite definitely and said, that they would rather gaze
On the cold dark gloom of a murder’s tomb or seek a martyr’s grave.

All night those boys prayed fervently to Almighty God on high,
To enable them to die like Pearse, Con Colbert and McBride.
When morning broke those boys awoke in their lonely prison cells.
Sweet memories did recall to them of their sweet fair Doonbeg

Whilst both were thinking deeply of their young days at home,
When the pistol of the foreman came in the prison door.
He handcuffed, chained and marched them to a wait-on bus outside,
And shot them on the Ennis Road, their hatred laws reviled.

It was then the news went like the wind that Micho Mac lay low,
Likewise Willie Shanahan, the pride of sweet Doughmore.
Their coffins draped in the tricolours, side by side were laid to rest
In that lonely churchyard of Doonbeg with the noblest and the blest.

Sure, methink I see poor Willie now with his blue eyes fixed on mine,
Likewise dark haired Micho MacNamara with his soft hands clasped on mine.
Sweet were their words, soft were their voice, and kind were they to all.
It was sad to say those heroes got such a sad downfall.

They're dead today, those heroes, the sons of Granuale.
May the Heavens parch and scorch the tongues by which their lives were sold,
My curse on those who spied on them, for the ready Saxon gold.


"In the December of 1920, two young Republicans, Michael MacNamara and Willie Shanahan, were arrested in Doonbeg, south west Clare, by a group of Black and Tans, members of the auxiliary force that had been brought to Ireland to assist in suppressing the growing opposition to British rule. The pair were taken to the barracks at Kilrush where they were tortured and eventually murdered. This song, which appears to be an accurate account of the events, is one of the most popular from the War of Independence period in Clare and is still frequently heard there.
Other recordings: Tom Lenihan, ‘Mount Callan Garland’, Comhairle Bhéaloideas Éireann."

The above commentary, lyrics and recording are taken from ‘Around the Hills of Clare: Songs and Recitations from the Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie Collection’ (2004) Musical Traditions Records MTCD331-2/Góilín Records 005-6.

See also
Mac and Shanahan sung by Tom Lenihan
Mac and Shanahan sung by Martin Reidy

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