Quigley And Picco (Johnny Quigley)
(Quigley On Picco)

Come all good people, I pray pay attention
to those few lines that I write in grief;
'Tis of a hero that's worse than Nero -
a persecutor and a cruel thief.

In Newfoundland he was born and reared,
as many an Irishman right well do know,
His name to mention without hesitation,
his appellation was John Picco;
My mind being filled with determination
not in the country very long to stay,
Until forced by poverty and vile vexation,
to the Cove of Portugal I took my way.

As I proceeded upon my journey,
I reached the place, it being late at night,
And like a mendicant, both wet and weary,
I boldly faced where I spied the light;
The door I entered, I only ventured -
I only ventured with hat in hand,
And with humility implored relief
from that gloomy tyrant of Newfoundland.

He quickly asked me my name and nation,
from whence I came, and where I was born,
I told him my residence, when in old Erin,
was situated near Ferrans town;
And Johnny Quigley it is my name,
'long with my parents I was reared at home,
A Roman Catholic was educated,
till death, that same I will never disown.

When he found out both my name and nation,
he boldly seized me and turned me out,
Was I a heathen or a swaddling preacher,
he'd entertain me without a doubt;
He says, this must be some Irish traitor,
no man concerning it shall ever know,
But to his mistake I was a bard of Erin
who could encomiums upon him bestow.

Thus once more cast out into the cold street,
I went a wandering from door to door,
And no relief was there to be found,
so much those Huguenots abhor the poor;
Here's a length of days unto Paddy Neary,
unto his children and his loving wife,
May angels guard them both night and morning,
for they entertained me and saved my life.

####.... Johnny Quigley ....####
Published in Stories From Newfoundland History, Ancient And Modern by Daniel Woodley Prowse [1834-1914] lawyer, politician, judge, historian, essayist, and office holder from Port de Grave, Newfoundland, and printed on page 19 of the St John's Evening Telegram, Vol XIII, #291, Dec 24, 1891.

Johnny Quigley was a first generation Irish-Newfoundlander from near Ferrans, Ireland, who arrived in Newfoundland in the early part of the nineteenth century, worked as a carpenter in St John's, and wrote his ballads as the self-proclaimed Bard of Erin.

A variant was printed in St John's by James Murphy [1867-1931] as Quigley On Picco and published on p.2 of Murphy's 1912 compilation, Old Songs Of Newfoundland, in which he wrote the following introduction to this song:
The hero of this song was one Johnnie Quigley, a native of Ferrins Town, County Kilkenny, Ireland. Quigley, or the bard from Erin as he was wont to be styled in the old days, was a favourite amongst the fishermen and mechanics of Terra Nova. He had a gift for composing poetry, and his scathing of John Picco, related in the following lines, made him the hero of the hour, especially when visiting St John's, his residence being Bell Island, Conception Bay. The inhospitality displayed by Picco has lost its foothold in Newfoundland - all classes today living with that religious tolerance so much desired in Quigley's day. The song is more than one hundred years old (c.1812).
Note: GEST was unable to locate Ferrins or Ferrans Town in County Wexford near which historians have noted Quigley lived, nor Ferrins Town, County Kilkenny as Murphy noted, but found Ferrans situated on both sides of the county line in Meath and Kildare Counties, approximately 36 km (22 miles) west of Dublin, Ireland.

John Picco was an established settler in the colony who came from West Country or the Channel Islands.

From Notable Events in the History of Newfoundland: Six Thousand Dates of Historical and Social Happenings published in 1900 by Maurice A Devine [1859-1915] and Michael J O'Mara, publishers of the weekly Sprite, registered on July 3, 1886 at 270 Duckworth in St John's:
On December 23, 1866, John Picot of Portugal Cove was lost in a snowstorm while going home from St John's. He was the son of the hero of Johnny Quigley's famous song in which the poet scored him for turning him from his door on a cold winter's night some years before.

From Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage ©2000, Gordon Handcock:
West Country - southwestern England from where many descendants of families associated with seafaring and seasonal fishing in Newfoundland, artisans and apprentices, tenant farmers, and unskilled labourers permanently migrated to improve their economic lot. Of the known English immigrants who settled in Newfoundland, 80-85% originated in the southern and southwestern regions of the country. About half of these came from Wessex (with 30% from Dorset, 8% from Somerset and 9% from Hampshire). Devonshire sent about 35%; Bristol, London and Liverpool each provided approximately 2-3%. The balance came from other English origins.

From The Early Relations Between Newfoundland And The Channel Islands by: Henry W Le Messurier, CMG [The Geographical Review, December, 1916, Vol II]
Channel Islands - group of islands and rocks in the English Channel formerly known as the Dukedom of Normandy, contiguous to the French coast, including Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark. Fishermen from the Channel Islands were among the first, if not the first, fishermen to visit Newfoundland.

From The Free Dictionary:
Encomiums - warm glowing praises; formal expressions of praise, tributes, eulogies, panegyrics, paeans, extolment, kudos.
Huguenots - French Protestants of the 16th and 17th centuries.
Mendicant - beggar; member of an order of friars forbidden to own property in common, who work or beg for their living.
Swaddling - one that restrains, restricts, limits, or regulates; checker.
Vexation - anger produced by some annoying irritation.


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