Australian Folk Songs

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Johnny Boland

Good Christians all round this country,
Come listen to my song,
I don't intend to raise it high,
To detain your attention long.
There are in it but verses few
To let the neighbours know
How Boland he was banished
From the land of sweet Ross Row.

It was on a Saturday evening,
As you may plainly hear
The stars were in the sky
And the moon shone bright and clear ;
Donovan came to my door
And this to me did say :
"Arise up, Johnny Boland,
And along with me come away."

While I was putting on my clothes,
This reply made he :
"If you turn Queen's evidence
A happy man you'll be.
You will have money plenty
Your wants for to supply
The Queen will give you employment
Where none will call you spy."

"Hold your tongue," said Boland,
"And don't say so to me;
If I am poor, I will endure
To live in poverty.
I'll never become Queen's evidence,
My comrades to overthrow;
I'd sooner live in poverty
On the land of sweet Ross Row."

In pops Tommy Corrigan,
And seized me by the hand:
"Arise up, Johnny Boland,
You must quit your native land.
Bid farewell to your children;
You never shall see them more."
He handcuffed me like a murderer,
And marched me out the door.

He marched me off to Six-mile Bridge,
And from that to Castlechrin.
Said Butler to Boland: "I
Will commit you back again."
Said Boland to Butler:
"Pray what have I done,
But the beating of Mr. Heckman,
And the taking of his gun?"

He marched me off to Ennis jail,
It's very well you'd know ;
From thence I was transported
From the land of sweet Ross Row.
Farewell to my five orphan's,
I'm leaving here behind.
Friends and relations,

Both men and women kind.
The Lord, who is our witness,
Who right from wrong doth know,
Will punish those who banished us
From the land of sweet Ross Row.

Farewell unto the blunderbuss
That was hidden in the thatch ;
Farewell unto the powder horn
That was ready for the match ;
Farewell to the boys of County Clare;
Alas, I now must go ;
And adieu to you, old Ireland,
And the land of sweet Ross Row.


From the Sydney newspaper the Freeman's Journal Saturday 4 February 1905 p. 40.

(Kindly supplied by Mr. P. Doherty of Pambula) [Pambula is on the NSW Sapphire Coast]

The only other reference I can find to this ballad is in a 1999 article by Sydney radical Bob Gould where he writes - 'My father used to say that he couldn't speak Gaelic, but that he could sing all the old rebel songs like Napper Tandy, and Rise Up Johnny Boland in Gaelic.'


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory