“This year in Carndonagh, we’ve got something new
And I’ll do my best to explain it to you;
At the foot of the town there’s a building so grand
And what it’s all for sure we don’t understand.
With Dutchmen and Germans and Czechos achone
And men from Dundalk and the town of Athlone
While the boys from the town here they work by the score
And our friend Neily Doney from Magheramore.

Now I’m told in the morning if you go down late,
The Dutchman will turn round and show you the gate;
He’ll hand you your papers for not being in time saying
“We start at eight, not a quarter to nine.”
When the first sod was cut and the foundation laid,
There were thousands turned out, every man with a spade.
With spades and with shovels and tools of the best
Sure we went, God forgive us, we went with the rest.

For the first eighteen weeks sure we worked night and day,
Our backs they were sore, and so small was the pay;
Then our foreman decided on strike we should go
As he thought we were sure worth a little more dough.
We hunted a clatter of men from Dunaff
And some other fellows that’s down from Culdaff.
Ah! We sure won the strike, yes we won by a yard,
But some chaps were sacked then for working too hard.

So we both started off with shovel and spade
Until we were fired for swinging the lead;
Then we went down with aprons and trousers so white
And we started as painters to make the place bright.
We learned all the trades and how copper to stick,
And plastering and plumbing and laying the brick.
We were skilled at all works for no job did we fear,
We even were trusted with carrying the beer.

We are glad that we’ve helped the new factory to build
And glad that we’re here and didn’t get killed.
Our money we saved not, no fortune we’ve made,
So back we must go to the shovel and spade.
And now we await the big opening day
When they turn out the stuff, aye, that’s stronger than tay,
And one job we could still hold, for at it we’re skilled,
Is testing that spirit whenever it’s stilled.

Now all you good farmers around Inishowen
Be proud of your muscle, your brawn and your bone;
Just tighten your belt, give your braces a pull,
Get hold of the plough and go down with a will.
Put down arran banners with farmyard manure.
Man, they are the stuff keeps the wolf from the dure;
And if they reject them don’t bother your head
Put them into a pot and make poundies instead.”

Victor Gillespie and Pat Lynch Air: ‘The Mountains of Mourne’

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