Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Wild Colonial Boy

Image from Andrew Bottomley

"The Wild Colonial Boy" is another outlaw hero of  ballad fame. Jack Duggan, born in Castle Maine "of poor but honest parents" goes off to at age sixteen to rob the rich and help the poor, becoming "a terror to Australia."

Duggan also shoots James McAvoy, but the lyrics give no reason. Mere wildness? Or is McAvoy perhaps a bad hat? Of course we must be careful not to confuse the character in the song with contemporary actor; the song predates him by quite a long chalk.

In any case, Duggan himself meets a sticky end. He is caught in a shoot-out with the troopers and dies of his wounds, "still firing at Fitzroy."

According to Mainly Norfolk, this ballad has many versions, with the hero's name varying as Doolan and Dowling and so on. The dates of "his wild career" and other details change as well.

Here is the old ballad sung by the young Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem. The Irish Rovers performed the song as well.

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