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Mac and Shanahan
(Roud 5221)
Tom Lenihan
Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
Recorded in singer's home, 1982

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Tom Lenihan

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

It was on a dark December night those bloodhounds found their way
To a dwelling house in Newtown, not far from Doonbeg Bay.
It was there young Mac and Shanahan were with irons firmly bound;
Placed in a lorry by Black and Tans and brought to Kilrush Town.

It was there they were asked to give the names of those, their comrades bold.
And told they’d get their liberty if their honour thus they sold.
This they refused immediately and said they would rather gaze
On a cold dark gloom of some foreign tomb, or seek a martyr’s grave.

Next the priest was sent for, and while those boys he blessed,
The rifles of the Black and Tans pressed closely to their breast.
And before the priest departed he bade them his last goodbye,
And prayed that God might bring them safe through Ireland’s cross and triumph.

All night those boys prayed fervently to the Almighty God on high,
To enable them to die like Pearse, Con Colbert and McBride.
But when morning broke those boys awoke in their lonely prison cell,
And the Black and Tans were in the yard like devils out of hell.

While those boys were thinking deeply on their young days at home,
The Black and Tans with handcuffs and chains, came in the prison door.
They handcuffed, chained and brought them to a waiting bus outside,
And shot them in the Ennis Road, their brutal laws reviled.

It was then the news went like the wind that Micho Mac laid low,
And also Willie Shanahan, the pride of sweet Doughmore.
Their coffins wrapped in the tricoloured flag, side by side are laid to rest
In that lonely graveyard of Doonbeg with the noblest and the best.

Ah, they're dead today, those heroes, the pride of sweet West Clare.
All we can do for their poor souls is to chant a silent prayer.
Sweet were their looks, soft were their smiles, and kind were they to all,
And it’s sad to say that those brave boys met with such a sad downfall.


"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."
Jim Carroll

See also
Mac and Shanahan sung by Nora Cleary
Mac and Shanahan sung by Martin Reidy

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