Jump to content

The Wild Colonial Boy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"The Wild Colonial Boy"traditional anonymously penned Irish-Australian folk ballad that tells the story of a bushranger in early colonial Australia who dies during a gunfight with local police. Versions of the ballad give different names for the bushranger involved: some based on real individuals and some apparently fictional. A common theme is romanticisation of the bushranger's battle against colonial authority. According to a report in The Argus in November 1880, Ann Jones, the innkeeper of the Glenrowan Hotel, asked her son to sing the ballad when the Kelly gang were at her hotel in June that year.[1]

Identity of the bushranger[edit]

Versions of the ballad depict bushrangers with the first name of "Jack" and surnames such as "Dolan," "Doolan," "Duggan" and "Donahue." It is unclear if the ballad originally referred to an actual person.

One possible origin is Jack Donahue (also spelled Donohoe), an 1820s Irish convict who was sent to Australia, became a bushranger and was killed by police.[2] Another possibility is that the song refers to an 1860s juvenile Australian convict named John Doolan, who was born in Castlemaine, Victoria, and also turned to bushranging.[3] However, the real Doolan was not shot by police, instead being captured and sentenced to an additional convict term. It is also possible that the histories of Donohue and Doolan became blended over time to produce the modern ballad's lyrics.[4] There is also a possibility that the name of the real person was Jack Donahue, whose name was changed over time to mask the song's origins.[5]

Lyrics and melody[edit]

\header { tagline = ##f }
\layout { indent = 0\cm \context { \Score \remove "Bar_number_engraver" } }

global = {
  \key d \major
  \time 3/4
  \partial 4

chordNames = \chordmode {
  s4 | d,2. | d,2. | g,2. | e,2.:m | a,2.:7 | a,2.:7 | d,2. | s2
  s4 | d,2. | d,2. | a,2. | a,2. | g,2. | g,2. | a,2.~ | a,4 s4
  s4 | d,2. | d,2. | a,2. | a,2. | g,2. | g,2. | a,2. | a,4:7 s4
  s4 | d,2. | d,2. | g,2. | e,2.:m | a,2.:7 | a,2.:7 | d,2.~ | d,4 s4 \bar "|."

tenorVoice = \relative c'' {
  a4 | d,2 fis4 | a2 a4 | b2 g4 | e2 d4 | cis2 a4 | fis'2 e4 | d2. | r2
  fis4 | a2 d4 | d2 a4 | cis2 b4 | e,2 fis4 | g2 a4 | cis2 b4 | a2.~ | a4 r4
  fis | a2 d4 | d2 a4 | cis2 b4 | e,2 fis4 | g2 a4 | cis2 b4 | a2.~ | a4 r4
  fis d2 fis4 | a2 a4 | b2 g4 | e2 d4 | cis2 a4 | fis'2 e4 | d2.~ | d4 r4 \bar "|."

verse = \lyricmode {
  'Tis of a wild Co -- lon -- ial Boy, Jack Doo -- lan was his name,
  Of poor but hon -- est pa -- rents he was born in Cas -- tle -- maine.
  He was his fa -- ther's on -- ly hope, his mo -- ther's pride and joy,
  And dear -- ly did his pa -- rents love the wild Co -- lon -- ial Boy.

chordsPart = \new ChordNames { \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"acoustic guitar (steel)" \set chordChanges = ##t \chordNames }

tenorVoicePart = \new Staff \with {
  midiInstrument = "accordion"
} { \tenorVoice }
\addlyrics { \verse }

\score {
  \layout { }
  \midi {
    \tempo 2.=90
    \context { \ChordNames midiMinimumVolume = #0.3 midiMaximumVolume = #0.3 }

'Tis of a wild Colonial Boy, Jack Doolan was his name,
Of poor but honest parents he was born in Castlemaine.
He was his father's only hope, his mother's pride and joy,
And dearly did his parents love the wild Colonial Boy.

Come, all my hearties, we'll roam the mountains high,
Together we will plunder, together we will die.
We'll wander over valleys, and gallop over plains,
And we'll scorn to live in slavery, bound down with iron chains.

He was scarcely sixteen years of age when he left his father's home,
And through Australia's sunny clime a bushranger did roam.
He robbed those wealthy squatters, their stock he did destroy,
And a terror to Australia was the wild Colonial Boy.

In sixty-one this daring youth commenced his wild career,
With a heart that knew no danger, no foeman did he fear.
He stuck up the Beechworth mail-coach, and robbed Judge MacEvoy,
Who trembled, and gave up his gold to the wild Colonial Boy.

He bade the judge "Good morning", and told him to beware,
That he'd never rob a hearty chap that acted on the square,
And never to rob a mother of her son and only joy,
Or else you might turn outlaw, like the wild Colonial Boy.

One day as he was riding the mountain-side along,
A-listening to the little birds, their pleasant laughing song,
Three mounted troopers rode along – Kelly, Davis and FitzRoy –
They thought that they would capture him, the wild Colonial Boy.

"Surrender now, Jack Doolan, you see there's three to one.
Surrender now, Jack Doolan, you're a daring highwayman."
He drew a pistol from his belt, and shook the little toy,
"I'll fight, but not surrender," said the wild Colonial Boy.
He fired at Trooper Kelly and brought him to the ground,
And in return from Davis received a mortal wound.
All shattered through the jaws he lay still firing at FitzRoy,
And that's the way they captured him – the wild Colonial Boy.[6]

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ "Charge of Harbouring the Kelly Gang". The Argus. Melbourne. 26 November 1880. p. 6. Retrieved 13 October 2013 – via Trove.
  2. ^ "Ann Clancy – Rebel Girl". Archived from the original on 2010-07-13. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
  3. ^ Mawer, Granville Allen (2005). "Doolan, John (1856–?)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Vol. supplement. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISBN 978-0-522-84459-7. ISSN 1833-7538. OCLC 70677943.
  4. ^ Ward, Russel (1966). "Donohoe, John (Jack) (1806–1830)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Vol. 1. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISBN 978-0-522-84459-7. ISSN 1833-7538. OCLC 70677943.
  5. ^ "Irishmusicdaily". Irish Music Daily.
  6. ^ "The Wild Colonial Boy – Anonymous", Larrikin Literature, Perry Middlemiss
  7. ^ Moran, Fran (9 January 2002). "Singles, B Sides, Eclectica". The Parting Glass: An Annotated Pogues Lyrics Page. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  8. ^ MacShane, Gifford (2015-07-24). "THE WILD COLONIAL BOY: An Irish Song". Gifford MacShane, Author. Retrieved 2024-03-07.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]