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The Ballad Singers – 1866

Freeman’s Journal 14th April, 1866 p.229 (abridged)

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Napoleon at Saint-Helene, by Francois-Joseph Sandmann. Wikimedia Commons

In Ireland in ’48 a good many editors of newspapers were arrested, but not one ballad singer. In ’65 only one disloyal editor, Mr. Clark Luby, has been arrested; but the arrests of ballad singers in Cork, Dublin, Tralee, Limerick, and the country towns of the south has now given constant employment to the police. Not a fair is held in Ireland now at which the authorities do not take precautions for seizing upon the ballad singers, and confiscating their seditious wares – street literature reprinted by the Fenians and purchased extensively by the people. The Young Irelanders never would have re-published such lines as these;

The forward stepped young Boney,
And took me by the hand,
Saying, “How is old Ireland,
And how does she stand?”
“It’s as poor distressed a nation
As ever you have seen,
They are hanging men and women
For the wearing of the Green!”

One ballad has attained extensive popularity. As a ballad slip it appears anonymously, but Mr. McGlashan’s publication gives authorship to a Fenian, Mr. Charles Kickham of Mullinahone – the same Mr. Charles J. Kickham, we presume, who was arrested with the famous head centre and prison breaker, Stephens. It is “Patrick Sheehan” (The Glen of Aherlow).