Thursday, March 1, 2012

HIGHWAYMEN AND MASTERLESS MEN


Being as it is March 1st, and St. Patrick's Day is just 16 days away, I thought that it might be nice to offer up some of my favorite Irish songs each day before the St. Patrick' Day Celidah at my place.

First up, The Clancy Brother's with "Brennan on the Moor". Songs and stories about “heroic” outlaws and the  romantic image of the benevolent robber who “takes from the rich rich and gives to the poor". The most popular Irish highwayman since the second half of the 19th century was William Brennan who is immortalized in the ballad “Brennan On The Moor”. 

Newfoundland had it's share of outlaws and highwaymen. The most famous of which were called the Masterless Men, a bold and resourceful group of outlaws who persevered against English law in the latter half of the 18th century. These men took refuge in the Butter Pot and hid along the Southern Shore.

They were men escaping press gangs, Royal Navy deserters and runaway indentured servants from Newfoundland fishing plantations who fled inland to escape their harsh life. Led by Peter Kerrivan, an Irish-born deserter circa 1750, Regarded as criminals by the authorities, they lived by hunting, fishing, stealing and illegally trading in isolated villages.

Some were captured and hung. Kerrivan became a folk hero and overtime the Masterless Men moved to outports where they became independent fishermen.

Jack Fitzgeralds revised Ten Steps To The Gallows tells the tale of John Flood, "a romantic local highwayman, who has mistakenly been credited by St. John’s historians as being the last man publicly hanged in Newfoundland. Flood had been tried for highway robbery and assault. The highwayman was sentenced to be executed on Jan. 12, 1832 which, had it been carried out, would have made him the last person publicly executed in Newfoundland and Labrador.” The reprieve of the execution order was issued on Jan. 1, 1835.


The Clancy Brothers were Paddy, Tom, Bobby and Liam. The Clancy's and Tommy Makem. They  were a big influence on many artists in the 1960's including a young Bob Dylan!


If there are any Irish tunes that you like, let me know. It is great to reside in the most Irish place in the world outside of Ireland.

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