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The Ballad of the O'Donnell House

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Irish Poetry Writers Forum Discussion:     The Ballad of the O'Donnell House

This true story, a poem turned song, I wrote in tribute to the O'Donnell family and their suffering...





THE BALLAD OF THE O’DONNELL HOUSE


(Refrain)
The O’Donnell House sits on a knoll, round the bend
In old Wiggans’ Patch, tired, weary, and worn
But if walls could talk, sure, they’d tell us a story
Of the days of Coal’s glory and the Molly Maguires

[1]
It was three in the morning, the 10th of December
The year, eighteen hundred and seventy five
Outside thirty men, masked and armed assassins
Their plan to let none, man or woman, alive
The Widow O’Donnell, asleep in her bedroom
Dreamin’ of Ireland and kin in Gweedor
She heard a great noise and then one of the boys hollered
“Sweet Jesus, our Ellen’s shot dead on the floor!”

(Chorus)
Now who could commit such a horrible crime?
Shoot a young mother down before she’d reached her time?
The papers blamed vigilantes as the ones
But they were bought and paid for by the Pinkertons

[2]
Not one man but twenty, jumped Charlie O’Donnell
Knocked him to the ground and beat him till he bled
He cried out “Oh, why would you want us to die?”
Fifteen shots….then silence
As the snow turned blood red.
Raised cane clutched in anger, Nannie O’Donnell
Pointed her finger, a curse on her tongue
“You shall pay for your hate, guilt shall seal your fate
You have murdered my innocent daughter and son!”

(Chorus)
Now who could commit such a horrible crime?
Shoot a young mother down before she’d reached her time?
Brutally rob an old woman of a daughter and son?
T’was the long arm belonging to the Pinkertons

[3]
They pistol whipped Nannie and left her unconscious
They roughed up Tom Murphy and gave him a fright
Charles McAllister fled, thinking all lost for dead
Till he met the two James who’d run off in the night
When the blood shed was over, long coats trailing behind them
The men strode into blackness and obscurity
No justice was sought, for the felons were bought
Cold blooded murderers left running free


(Chorus)
Now who could commit such a horrible crime?
Shoot a young mother down before she’d reached her time?
Plenty of folks knew who fired the guns
But they feared repercussions by the Pinkertons


{4}
The O’Donnell house sits on a knoll, round the bend
Weather beaten and gaping, but still standing tall
In memory of the toil, waged here on our soil
To support the Labor Movement and answer its’ Call
Forget not the O’ Donnell’s, keep them close in your memory
For bigotry lives where reigns supremacy
Civil liberties lost, if we forget the cost
Of the price paid for freedom and democracy

Back to Chorus 1 then Refrain


(softer, slower)

The O’Donnell House sits on a knoll, round the bend
In old Wiggans’ Patch, tired, weary, and worn
But if walls could talk, sure, they’d tell us a story
Of the days of Coal’s glory and the Molly Maguires

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