Probably one of the most popular Irish songs, The Wild Colonial Boy tells the tale of a young man who leaves Ireland and becomes the Australian equivalent of Robin Hood. The song was featured in the movie “The Quiet Man”, and also in my Donovan family saga. My favorite version is by Dennis Day and you can hear it here.
There was a wild colonial boy, Jack Duggan was his name.
He was born and bred in Ireland in the town of Castlemaine.
He was his father’s only son, his mother’s only joy,
A credit to old Ireland was the wild colonial boy.
At the early age of sixteen years, Jack left his native home
And to Australia’s sunny shores he was inclined to roam.
He robbed the rich to aid the poor, he shot James MacEvoy;
A terror to Australia was the wild colonial boy.
One morn out on the prairie as Jack, he rode along,
A-listening to the mockingbirds a-singing their sweet song,
There came three troopers fierce and grim – Kelly, Davis, and Fitzroy –
They’d all set out to capture him, the wild colonial boy.
“Surrender now, Jack Duggan, for you see there’s three to one.
Surrender in the King’s name, sir, you daring highwayman.”
Jack drew two pistols from his belt and proudly waved them high.
“I’ll fight, I’ll not surrender,” said the wild colonial boy.
He fired a shot at Kelly that brought him to the ground,
Then fired point-blank at Davis, who received a mortal wound.
A bullet pierced his proud young heart from the pistol of Fitzroy,
And that is how they captured him, the wild colonial boy.
Notes: James MacEvoy is sometimes referred to as Judge MacEvoy. Legend has it he was a “hanging judge”.
There is an Australian version of this song in which Jack Donahue (or Jack Doolan) is a highwayman & bushranger. Guess it’s all a matter of perspective.