May 12th, 1916- A Song for James Connolly

from Dream Your Way Out of This One by Niall Connolly

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about

In the spring of 2016, the great Dublin singer Susan McKeown invited me to write a song to commemorate the 100th anniversary of James Connolly. She pointed me towards an archival interview with his daughter, Nora Connolly. Growing up in Ireland we all learned the important names and dates of our country’s history. I found Nora’s interview to be a hugely moving and personal account of her father. The song is largely inspired by this interview.

As part of the Cuala NYC festival, I was to perform the song at Cooper Union in New York City. James Connolly had spoken many times in this room. I was more than a little nervous to perform it in front of a room full of James Connolly scholars on the occasion of his 100th anniversary.

Then in December, Glen Hansard invited me to perform this song with him at Coughlan's in Cork, and the following day on the roof of Apollo House in Dublin as a part of the Home Sweet Home movement. I also had the great pleasure of performing this song at Irish Stand Rally for Justice and Equality in New York on St. Patrick's Day.

Finally, I am happy to share with you a studio recording of this song. Glen Hansard very graciously agreed to sing an additional vocal on this recording. Javier Más (the late great Leonard Cohen's right hand man) completes this recording on Spanish laud.


Thank you Susan, Glen, Javier, Nora and James for pulling this song out of me.

lyrics

May 12th, 1916 – A Song for James Connolly

(verse)

E
My father fought for justice, for our country to be free,

C#m
He was my father first and foremost, and I sat on his knee,

A
I remember his voice and the words he said to me,
                 E                                 A           E
Before my father he went down, down in history.


(Chorus chords)

C#m A E A E 

 
(Verse)

E
Said the mill owner to the factory girls, there’ll be singing here no more,
C#m
Well the factory girls in unison, they walked on out the door,
A
Do not tell us when to talk, do not tell us when to sing,
E                                                   A         E
As long as we have voices, our voices will be king.

chorus

C#m                        A
Nora don’t you cry, Nora Don’t you cry,
E                       A            E
I have lived the fullest of lives.


(Verse)
E
My father he was wounded, Easter 1916,
C#m
Stretchered by a boy, of only 14,
A
“That boy he tried to take the bullets meant for me,
E                                                                A                 E
As long as we have boys like that our country will be free”


chorus

C#m                        A
Nora don’t you cry, Nora Don’t you cry,
E                       A            E
I have lived the fullest of lives

(Verse)

At 1 am on May 12th the message it was sent,

The prisoner Connolly, his wife and eldest daughter does request,

Dublin under curfew such a strange and sorry sight,

Oh Lily you know, that this means goodbye,



Chorus

but Lily don’t you cry, Lily don’t you cry,

I have lived the fullest of lives.


(Verse)
Said the nurse I am bound to search you but I don not think I can,

I see not prisoner but virtuous, proud family man,

There is little I can do now, I will do what I can.



(Verse)
They carried my wounded father tied him to his final chair,

Said Father Aloysius, for your killer say a prayer,

My father fought for justice, for the workers to be free,

He said I pray for all men who must do their duty,



(Chorus)
Lily don’t you cry, Lily don’t you cry,

I have lived the fullest of lives.


(Verse)

Said my father to the factory girls, your cause is just and right,

It’s a battle we won’t win but a battle we must fight,

When you back hold your head high and sing your song out proud,

That it might echo 100 years from now,



(Chorus)
Lily don’t you cry, Lily don’t you cry,

I have lived the fullest of lives.

credits

from Dream Your Way Out of This One, released September 15, 2017
Niall Connolly - Guitar and voice
Glen Hansard - Additional vocals
Javier Más - Spanish Laud

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Niall Connolly Brooklyn, New York

"Terrific. Disarming and beautifully crafted folk-pop. Connolly is a witty storyteller and a not-to-be-missed songsmith."

- The Chicago Tribune

"Among the most vibrant, poignant, and authentic indie folk artists in New York City."

-No Depression
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