Bold Jack Donahoe

DESCRIPTION: The singer sadly recalls the death of Donahoe. He and his companions are overtaken by three policemen. Walmsley refuses to fight, and Donahoe is left alone. He is shot and killed
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1941 (Beck); c.1870 (Zimmermann)
KEYWORDS: Australia death cowardice fight outlaw
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
Sept 1, 1830 (the ballad says Aug 24) - Jack Donahue, formerly of Dublin (transported 1823), is killed by police near Sydney
FOUND IN: Australia US(MW,NE,So) Ireland
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Meredith/Anderson, pp. 63-64, "Bold Jack Donahoe" (1 text, 1 tune)
Manifold-PASB, pp. 50-51, "Bold Jack Donahue" (1 text, 1 tune)
Beck 89, "Bold Jack Donohue" (1 text)
Bronner-Eskin1 6, "Jack Donahue" (1 text, 1 tune)
Wells, pp. 304-205, "Bold Jack Donahue" (1 text, 1 tune)
O'Conor, pp. 22-23, "Bold Jack Donahoe" (1 text)
Zimmermann 76, "Bold Jack O'Donoghue" (2 texts, 1 tune)
OCroinin-Cronin 33, "Bold Jack Donohue" (2 texts, 1 tune)

Roud #611
RECORDINGS:
Elizabeth Cronin, "Bold Jack Donohue" (on IRECronin01)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Jack Donahue" [Laws L22]
cf. "Jim Jones at Botany Bay" (tune)
cf. "The Wreck of the Eliza" (tune)
cf. "The Aranmore Disaster" (tune)
SAME TUNE:
Jim Jones at Botany Bay (File: PBB096)
The Wreck of the Eliza (File: Ran056)
The Aranmore Disaster (File: Ran125)
NOTES: This ballad often mixes with "Jack Donahue" [Laws L22] (for obvious reasons), and they are lumped by Roud, but the two can be distinguished by the mention of Donahue's companions at the time of Donahoe's capture. Some scholars think this the older of the two.
For historical background on Donahue, see "Jack Donahue" [Laws L22]. - RBW
Zimmermann 76 makes a Fenian connection: "I turned out as a Fenian boy as I'd often done before"; "...that Fenian bold called Jack O'Donoghue."
Zimmermann: "The name of Captain Mackey ["There was MacNamara, Andrew Ward, and Captain Mackey too, They were the chiefs and associates of bold Jack Donoghue"] helps us to date this version. William Mackey commanded the Fenians at Ballyknockane, County Cork, in an attack upon the police barracks during the rising of 1867. He was sentenced to 12 years' penal servitude in March 1868." The connection with Jack O'Donoghue, killed in 1830, would -- if Zimmermann is right -- be fictitious.
OCroinin-Cronin, like to Zimmerman, has the cause of Donahue's "transportation" from Ireland being his association with the United Brotherhood, a natural lead in to his association with "Captain Mackey" and the Australian Fenians: "For being a bold United Boy they sent me across the main... I was no longer than six months upon the Australian shore / I turned out a Fenian Boy which I often did before / There were McNamara and Andrew Ward and Captain Mackey too...." For another story of the Irish Brotherhood exiles among the Australian Fenians see "The Fenian's Escape (The Catalpa)" and the notes there for some background. - BS
Zimmermann's version is attributed to "John McCarthy." But the list of co-conspirators is unusual at best. The version of this song I know best lists Donohue's companions as "Jacky Underwood, and Webber and Walmsley too."
According to Harry Nunn's Bushrangers: A Pictorial History, p. 16, the members of the Underwood Gang (active 1820-1832) were "William Underwood, John Donohue [not O'Donohue, note], George Kilroy, William Smith, John Walms[l]ey, John Webber and others." It notes that "Donohue and Webber shot by police 1830. Underwood shot 1832. Walmsley turned informer, Smith and Kilroy hanged 1832." Thus my guess would be that McCarthy took an existing song and converted it for Fenian purposes.
What can be said with certainty is that this was not originally a Fenian song, because Donahoe died in 1830, before there were any Fenian organizations of any kind. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.0
File: MA063

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