This song was written by the Wolfe Tones paying tribute,to a brave young Irish soldier who died in the H-blocks of Long Kesh, aged just 30, after 61 days on hungerstrike. He died in agony defying the British govenment’s attempts to criminalise Irish republican prisoners.
He died so that others coming after him would be recognised as political prisoners.
Oh me name is Joe mcDonnell from Belfast town I came,
That city I will never see again,
For in the town of Belfast I spent many happy days,
I loved the town in oh so many ways
For it’s there I spent my childhood,and I found for me a wife,
I then set out to make for her a life.
Oh but all my young ambitions met with bitterness and hate,
I found myself inside a prison gate.
And you dare to call me a terrorist,while you look down your guns,
When I think of all the deeds that you have done.
You have plundered many nations,divided many lands,
You have terrorised our people,you ruled with your iron hand,
And you brought this reign of terror to my land.
Through those many months internment in the Maidstone and the Kesh
I thought about my land throughout those days,
Why my country was divided ,why I was now in jail,
Imprisoned without crime or without trial,
And although I love my country I am not a bitter man,
I’ve seen cruelty and injustice at first hand.
Then one cold and fateful morning I shook bold freedoms hand,
For right or wrong I tried to free my land.
Then one cold October’s morning trapped in a lion’s den
I found myself in prison once again,
I was committed to the H-Blocks for fourteen years or more,
On the blanket the conditions they were poor.
Then a hungerstrike we did commence for the dignity of man,
And it seemed to me that no-one gave a dam.
Oh but now I am a saddened man I have watched my comrades die,
If only people cared or wondered why.
Oh may God shine on you Bobby Sands for the courage you have shown,
May your glory and your name be widely known,
Then young Francis Hughes and Ray McCreesh who died unselfishly,
And Patsy O Hara and the next in line is me,
And those who lie behind me may your courage be the same,
And I pray to God my life is not in vain,
Oh but sad and bitter was the year of 1981,
When they think that we have lost and nothing won.