O'Donnell's Execution (MacEdward Leach)
All you sons of Erin's isle,
Come listen unto me,
I'm sure when you will hear my song
With me you will agree:
Condemned by English furies
With features grim and bold,
They sent eight innocent Irishmen
To a dungeon dark and cold.

Of that great crime in Phoenix Park
No doubt you all have heard,
The trying of these prisoners
You know well what occurred:
James Carey, the informer,
These precious lies he sold,
He sent them to an awful doom
For a bit of English gold.

To escape a speedy vengeance,
James Carey had to roam,
All with his wife and family
He left his native home;
All for to seek seclusion
In the lands far o'er the sea,
He sailed on the Melrose Castle [sic]
For the shores of Afrikay.

It being on the twenty-ninth day of July,
The ship was near the shore,
When the passengers from the forecastle
They heard an awful roar;
They rushed down to the cabin
And when they reached the spot,
That brutal, fatal Carey
He received a battle shot.

These noble lives are now revenged;
The informer he is dead,
The avenger, Pat O'Donnell,
He lies on his prison bed;
Condemned by English tyrants
Until his day of trial,
He's tried like other Irishmen
In unjust English style.

The first day of September
For the murder he was tried,
When he saw Judge Bentham on the bench
All hopes within him died;
His counsel they were able men,
To free him hard they tried,
The jury found him guilty
And meant that he should die.

The day of his execution
Was a hard sight for to see,
His friends were at the prison gate
They would weep most bitterly;
At the lone sight of the gallows
He did neither flinch nor cry,
A martyr for his native land
How nobly he did die.

The first day of November
He was sentenced to be hanged,
All over the universe
These dreadful tidings rang;
In every cot in Erin's isle
Great sorrows did prevail,
The friends of Pat O'Donnell
His misfortune did bewail.

Now he's dead, he's laid to rest,
Let honour be his name,
Let no one look upon him
With scorn or disdain;
His impulse it is human,
Which no one can deny,
I hope he'll be forgiven
By the infinite Lord on high.

If every son in Erin's Isle
Had such a heart as he,
Soon they'd set their native land
Once more at liberty;
They'd unfurl their flag unto the British,
Their rights they would redeem
In unity and friendship,
In the lands far over the sea.

####.... Author unknown ....####

Collected in 1951 from Patrick (Pat) Critch [1882-1963] of Flatrock, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada ©2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

MacEdward Leach also collected a variant published as #42, Pat O'Donnell in Folk Ballads And Songs Of The Lower Labrador Coast by The National Museum of Canada (Ottawa, 1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

From Fact Monster: Phoenix Park murders was the name given to the assassination on May 6, 1882, of Lord Frederick Cavendish, British secretary for Ireland, and Thomas Henry Burke, his undersecretary, in Phoenix Park, Dublin. They were stabbed to death by members of the Invincibles, a terrorist splinter group of the Fenian movement. Two of those arrested turned state's evidence, five were hanged, and three were sentenced to penal servitude.

From The Red Duster's Merchant Navy Association page for the Castle Mail Packet Company: Melrose was built in 1877 by Robert Steel & Co at Glasgow with a tonnage of 839 gross tons, a length of 229 feet 7 inches, a beam of 29 feet 1 inch and a service speed of 9 knots. She was laid down as the Maritzburg but completed as the Melrose specifically for the coastal passenger Royal Colonial Mail service. She was used by local businessmen for social voyages up and down the South Africa east coast ports. On 29 July, 1883, she was the scene of a sensational crime. In May of 1882, Lord Cavendish and Thomas Burke were stabbed and killed in Phoenix Park, Dublin. One of the six Fenians, members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood which had been established in 1858, turned Queen's evidence and, as a result, the other five were publicly executed. Thomas Carey was a member of the Invincibles and fellow members vowed to kill him. For his protection, Carey and his family were secretly taken to South Africa aboard the Kinfauns Castle where, on arrival at Cape Town, they were transferred to the Melrose. Unbeknown to anybody, a member of the Invincibles, Patrick O'Donnell [born c.1865], had also shipped on the Kinfauns Castle and made friends with Carey who obviously didn't know him. O'Donnell shared a cabin with Carey on the Melrose and on 29 July, 1883, shot him with fatal consequences. O'Donnell was returned to London and, after being tried at the Old Bailey and found guilty, was hanged on 17 December, 1883. O'Donnell was 48 years old.


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