Ballad of James Larkin lyrics

by Christy Moore

In Dublin City in 1913
The boss was rich and the poor were slaves
The women working and the children hungry
Then on came Larkin like a mighty wave
The workmen cringed when the boss man thundered
Seventy hours was his weekly chore
He asked for little and less was granted
Lest getting little he'd ask for more

But on came Larkin in 1913
A mighty man with a mighty tongue
The voice of labour the voice of justice
And he was gifted and he was young
God sent Larkin in 1913
A labor man with a union tongue
He raised the worker and gave him courage
He was their hero, the workers son

In the month of August the boss man told us
No union man for him could work
We stood by Larkin and told the boss man
We'd fight or die but we would not shirk
Eight months we fought and eight months we starved
We stood by Larkin through thick and thin
But foodless homes and the crying children,
They broke our hearts and we could not win

Then Larkin left us we seemed defeated
The night was black for the working man
But on came Connolly with new hope and counsel
His motto was that we'd rise again
In 1916 in Dublin City
The English soldiers, they burnt our town
They shelled the buildings and shot our leaders
The harp was buried beneath the crown

They shot McDermott and Pearse and Plunkett
They shot McDonagh and Clarke the brave
From bleak Kilmanham they took their bodies
To Arbour Hill to a quicklime grave
But Last of all of the seven leaders
I'll sing the praise of James Connolly
The voice of labour the voice of justice
Who gave his life that men might be free

Song Details

James-Larkin

Writer: Donagh MacDonagh (1912 - 1968) - poet, playwright, judge, presenter, broadcaster and balladeer

Brief: The song is about James Larkin, an Irish trade union leader and socialist activist best known for his role in the 1913 Dublin Lockout which eventually concluded in early 1914 when calls by Connolly and Larkin for a sympathetic strike in Britain were rejected by the British Trades Union Congress. Although the actions of the movement were unsuccessful in achieving better conditions and pay for its workers, it did have an influencing effect, with the principles of union action and workers' solidarity being firmly established.

After he left James Connolly, an Irish republican and socialist leader defended the workers and strikers, particularly from the frequent brutality of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. He was the driving force behind the 1916 Easter Rising launched by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic. The actions of James Connolly and other rebel leaders played a significant role in public awareness, gathering a great deal of support for the movement that they had died fighting for.

Category: Folk

Recorded: by Christy Moore in 1969 on the album Paddy on the Road

Popular Recording Artists: Christy Moore (featured), Ronnie Drew, The Dubliners, Mark'S Men, Paddy Reilly...

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