Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Wild Colonial Boy
By Nicholas Stix

My son just asked me to find the Irish-Australian folk song, “The Wild Colonial Boy.” The other day at school, a nine-year-old classmate of his played it in class on the piano, played it quite well, he did.

I was able to find the above video at google video, on a page full of different videotaped performances of it. I’d thank the fellow who posted it, but I can’t find his name. Anyhoo, it’s a spirited performance of four Irishmen, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, on The Mike Douglas Show, from February 1967.

I’ve heard the music before, but am not sure where. My hunch is that it was a John Ford movie, perhaps The Quiet Man. I am also pretty sure that at least one group of pipers played it at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, exactly seven days ago, to which my son just supplied independent confirmation.

What’s that, you say? St. Patty’s Day isn’t until Tuesday? Not where I live. We have the best (albeit the second biggest) St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the Western Hemisphere, and we have it first every year. Whereas the best pipers play for the world in the Ancient Order of Hibernians' St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan, in my neighborhood, they play for their neighbors. We celebrate two St. Patty’s Days every year!

The following lyrics come from a page full of different versions of “The Wild Colonial Boy,” and with a different video of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem singing it. Makem says he’s come across at least 36 different versions. But be forewarned; the page does not permit you to right-click, and copy and paste the lyrics. The following lyrics also do not match the version sung by the Brothers and Tommy, either above or below.

The Wild Colonial Boy
By Francis McNamara

There was a wild colonial boy,
Jack Duggan was his name,
He was born and reared in Ireland,
In a place called Castlemaine,
He was his father’s only son,
His mother’s pride and joy,
And dearly did his parents love
The Wild Colonial Boy.

At hammer throwing Jack was great,
Or swinging a caman,
He led the boys in all their pranks
From dusk to early dawn.
At fishin’ or at poachin’ trout,
He was the real McCoy,
And all the neighbors loved young Jack,
The Wild Colonial Boy.

At the early age of sixteen years,
He left his native home;
And to Australia’s sunny land,
He was inclined to roam,
He robbed the rich,
And he helped the poor,
He stabbed James McEvoy,
A terror to Australia was
The Wild Colonial Boy.

For two more years this daring youth
Ran on his wild career,
With a head that knew no danger,
And a heart that knew no fear.
He robbed outright the wealthy squires,
And their arms he did destroy;
And woe to all who dared to fight
The Wild Colonial Boy.

He loved the Prairie and the Bush,
Where Rangers rode along;
With his gun stuck in its holster deep,
He sang a merry song.
But if a foe once crossed his track,
And sought him to destroy,
He’d get sharp shootin’ sure from Jack,
The Wild Colonial Boy.

One morning on the prairie wild,
Jack Duggan rode along,
While listening to the mocking bird,
Singing a cheerful song,
Out jumped three troopers, fierce and grim,
Kelly, Davis, and Fitzroy;
They all set out to capture him,
The Wild Colonial Boy.

“Surrender now, Jack Duggan, Come;
“You see there’s three to one;
Surrender in the Queen’s name, Sir;
You are a plundering son!”
Jack drew two pistols from his side,
And glared upon Fitzroy,
“I’ll fight but not surrender!” cried
The Wild Colonial Boy.

He fired a shot at Kelly
Which brought him to the ground,
He fired point blank at Davis, too
Who fell dead at the sound,
But a bullet pierced his brave young heart
From the pistol of Fitzroy;
And that was how they captured him,
The Wild Colonial Boy.

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