MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
John Mitchell
Jim Rice NFLD 1 Tape 9 Track 4
Cape Broyle Audio:
Ballad / prisoner exiled

I am a true born Irishman John Mitchell is my name,
When first I joined my countrymen from Drurytown I came,
And 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.

Female voice: (speaks) Very good


Sources: Henry 179a; Roud 5163.

History: The song is thought to be about John Mitchell (1815-75), a writer for the United Irishmen, and founder of the journal, United Irishmen, in 1847. Accused of taking part in the rebellions of 1848, he was imprisoned, but probably sent to Australia rather than Bermuda.

Text notes: An Irishman is taken prisoner and sent to Bermuda.

Tune notes: A melody with a dorian flavour although the third is sometimes sharpened, depending on the melodic context. The form is an arch-shaped, abba tune.

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