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AUSTRALIAN SONGS

Bold Jack Donahue

traditional Australian song, composer unknown

The song The Bold Jack Donahue is often confused with The Wild Colonial Boy. This is understandable since both use the same chorus.

In 1825 Jack Donahue arrived in Sydney as a convict from Ireland. Eventually he escaped to the bush with two other convicts. Together they formed a bushranger gang and set to work robbing the wealthy land owners. They became known as The Strippers because they stripped the rich of their money, clothes and food. They were eventually caught, convicted and sentenced to death.

Donahue escaped and continued to rob the rich. Just five years after first arriving in Australia, Jack Donahue was shot by the police in a gun battle. His fame for robbing the rich made him something of a hero after he died as you can see from the first line in the song Bold Jack Donahue.

In 1830 Governor Darling banned the song. Anyone caught singing it risked going to jail for inciting rebellion. Public houses (pubs) could even lose their licence. This may, or may not be the reason we find versions of the song with different names — Jack Donahoo, Jack Donaghue, Jack Donohoe, Jack Duggan, Jack Doolan, and Jack Dowling.

See another version
of Bold Jack Donahue.

In Dublin town I was brought up, in that city of great fame —
My decent friends and parents, they will tell to you the same.
It was for the sake of five hundred pounds I was sent across the main,
For seven long years, in New South Wales, to wear a convict’s chain.

Then come, my hearties, we’ll roam the mountains high!
Together we will plunder, together we will die!
We’ll wander over mountains and we’ll gallop over plains —
For we scorn to live in slavery, bound down in iron chains.

I’d scarce been there twelve months or more upon the Australian
    shore,
When I took to the highway, as I’d oft-times done before.
There was me and Jacky Underwood, and Webber and Webster, too.
These were the true associates of bold Jack Donahoo.

Then come, my hearties, we’ll roam the mountains high!
Together we will plunder, together we will die!
We’ll wander over mountains and we’ll gallop over plains —
For we scorn to live in slavery, bound down in iron chains.

Now, Donahoo was taken, all for a notorious crime,
And sentenced to be hanged upon the gallows-tree so high.
But when they came to Sydney gaol, he left them in a stew,
And when they came to call the roll, they missed bold Donahoo.

Then come, my hearties, we’ll roam the mountains high!
Together we will plunder, together we will die!
We’ll wander over mountains and we’ll gallop over plains —
For we scorn to live in slavery, bound down in iron chains.

As Donahoo made his escape, to the bush he went straight-way.
The people they were all afraid to travel night or day —
For every week in the newspapers there was published something
    new
Concerning this dauntless hero, the bold Jack Donahoo!

Then come, my hearties, we’ll roam the mountains high!
Together we will plunder, together we will die!
We’ll wander over mountains and we’ll gallop over plains —
For we scorn to live in slavery, bound down in iron chains.

As Donahoo was cruising, one summer’s afternoon,
little was his notion his death was near so soon,
When a sergeant of the horse police discharged his car-a-bine,
And called aloud on Donahoo to fight or to resign.

Then come, my hearties, we’ll roam the mountains high!
Together we will plunder, together we will die!
We’ll wander over mountains and we’ll gallop over plains —
For we scorn to live in slavery, bound down in iron chains.

“Resign to you—you cowardly dogs! a thing I ne’er will do,
For I’ll fight this night with all my might,” cried bold Jack Donahoo.
“I’d rather roam these hills and dales, like wolf or kangaroo,
Than work one hour for Government!” cried bold Jack Donahoo.

Then come, my hearties, we’ll roam the mountains high!
Together we will plunder, together we will die!
We’ll wander over mountains and we’ll gallop over plains —
For we scorn to live in slavery, bound down in iron chains.

He fought six rounds with the horse police until the fatal ball,
Which pierced his heart and made him start, caused Donahoo to fall.
And as he closed his mournful eyes, he bade this world Adieu,
Saying, “Convicts all, both large and small, say prayers for Donahoo!”

Then come, my hearties, we’ll roam the mountains high!
Together we will plunder, together we will die!
We’ll wander over mountains and we’ll gallop over plains —
For we scorn to live in slavery, bound down in iron chains.

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