Union Songs

Back in 1847

A Song by Michael Burns©Michael Burns 2010

- [play]

Back in 1847, in the bitterest of winters,
when disease, death and starvation
drove the people from their homes,
as they left their smoky cabins
they were looking for salvation,
there was nothing on the mountains
but the starving and the ghosts.

So to the iron towns of Durham
came the dispossessed of Ireland
empty collier boats from 'Haven'
brought them to the English shore
from Armagh and Louth and Cavan,
with their bundles and their babies,
from Tyrone and County Monaghan
and from many place more.

There they dug and cleaned the ironstone,
made the coke and filled the furnace.
first at Berry Edge, now Consett,
Shotley Bridge, Crookhall, Tow Law
Witton Park and then Port Clarence
~well where ever men made iron
the Irish they were busy
did their part and sometimes more.

But these Irish were so foreign
they caused problems for the English
had their own priests and religion
incense, candlesticks and more
prayed in Latin, some spoke Gaelic
you could hardly grasp their English
and they worked hard for low wages
God, what brought them to our door?

Well some of us are English,
but maybe still a little Irish
and our neighbours might be Polish,
Congolese or from Darfur
but in thes days of drought and famine
persecution, ethic cleaning
lets remember how we came here
when the stranger's at our door.


Many thanks to Michael Burns for permission to add this song to the Union Songs collection

Michael writes
This is a song about immigrants coming to Britain in the past and the present day. 'Haven' in verse two is the port of Whitehaven, Cumberland (now Cumbria) a port that exported coal from Cumberland to the whole of Ireland.

More work from Michael Burns in this collection

Visit Michael's website at http://michaelburns1.com/

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