John Mitchell (MacEdward Leach)

I am a true born Irishman,
John Mitchell is my name,
When first I joined my countrymen,
Drurytown I came;
I laboured hard both day and night
to free my native land,
By which I was transported,
as you may understand.

I was taken on board of a transport ship
without any more delay,
To Bermuda town, where we were bound,
I'll never forget that day;
It was on our deck I stood awhile
to take my farewell view,
I dropped one tear but not through fear,
my native land to view.

It was there I was taken a prisoner
and in strong irons bound,
Where thousands of my countrymen
assembled all around;
Sure I could have my liberty,
if I'd forsake their cause,
But I'd rather die one thousand deaths
than forsake those Irish lads.

As I lay in strong irons bound,
my wife came unto me,
"Cheer up your spirits, John," she said,
"Undaunted do not be;
Cheer up your spirits, John," she said,
"Undaunted do not be,
For I'd rather you die for Erin's rights
than to live in slavery."

Now fare you well, my blooming girl,
I'm in grief to part with you,
Likewise my young and tender babes,
alas, what will they do?
Also my loyal Irishmen
will mourn for my downfall,
And the parting with my native land
it grieves me more than all.

Cheer up, my loyal comrades,
now my time is near at hand,
And think on me when far away
all in some foreign land;
For to rise the standard
of repeal to glory,
I vowed to heaven I never will rest
until Erin will be free.

####.... Author unknown. Traditional Irish ballad ....####

Sung in 1950 by James (Jim) Rice [1879-1958] of Cape Broyle, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

Note: John Mitchell [1815-1875] was an Irish nationalist, activist and political journalist whose writings led to a conviction for sedition against the British Crown. He was sentenced to 14 years in the penal colony of Van Dieman's Land but escaped and spent several years in the USA, establishing three controversial newspapers defending slavery and the Southern cause. In 1875, he returned to Ireland and was elected to Parliament. The election was invalidated twice because Mitchell was a convicted felon, but he died before his third protest could be settled in his favor. Mitchell remains a famed Irish historical figure for his involvement in radical agitation and his Jail Journal. Writings he published in defense of slavery are remembered today by few other than American historians.


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