Friday, April 20, 2012

On the nineteenth day of April

Oops, meant to post this yesterday:

On the nineteenth day of April
Their gallant ship set sail,
With fifty-five brave Irish lads
True sons of GrĂ¡ine Mhaoil.
They landed safely in New York
On the nineteenth day of May,
For to meet their friends and relatives
All in the USA.

Their relatives did meet them there
As soon as they did land,
With many a bumper drank their praise
As they clasped hand in hand.
Though some of them had few friends there,
Their hearts were light and bold
And by those swaggering Yankees
They could not be controlled!

As six of our brave Irish lads
Were going down Charles Street;
One of these Yankee gentlemen
They happened for to meet.
He brought them to an ale house,
Where he called for drinks galore.
I’m sure such entertainment
They’d never seen before.

The ale it flowed full fast and free
They had a jolly time,
Which was more than they expected
Upon that foreign clime.
But when he thought he had them drunk
The Yankee then did say:
‘You are listed in the army now
To fight for America.’

They looked at one another
And then to him made plain:
‘It is not for this that we came here
Across the raging main,
But to earn an honest livelihood
As thousands did before,
Who emigrated from their homes
By the dear old Shannon shore.’

Six of these Yankee soldiers
Came dressed without delay.
They said: ‘Now lads you must prepare
With us to come away.
This is our esteemed office
Who listed you complete,
So do not strive for to resist
We can no longer wait.’

The Irish lads hopped to their feet
Which made the Yankees frown;
With every blow that they did strike
They brought a soldier down.
That office and all his men
They left in crimson gore,
And proved themselves St. Patrick’s sons
Throughtout Columbia’s shore.

A Frenchman of great fame had seen
What the soldiers tried to do.
He said: ‘I will protect you
From the Yankee criminal crew.
I will take you to Ohio,
Where I have authority,
And keep you in employment there
Till you leave this country!’

So now to conclude and finish
Let young and old unite,
And offer up a fervent prayer
Both morning, noon and night
In honour of the Lord above
To help you hold your sway
And keep you from all danger
When you go to the USA.

That was a poem I found in ‘My Father’s Time’, a collection of stories by probably the best Irish seanachai or story-teller of the last fifty years. Although I missed the 19th, the date of my post is still apt. The 20th April is my father’s birthday, indeed, I posted ‘in my father’s time’. 

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