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The Wild Colonial Boy single work   poetry   "'Tis of a wild Colonial boy, Jack Doolan was his name"
Issue Details: First known date: 1905... 1905 The Wild Colonial Boy
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'The Wild Colonial Boy' is a traditional Irish/Australian ballad of which there are many different versions. It has been argued that the original version was really about Jack Donahoe (variously spelled Donahoo or Donahue), an Irish transport who arrived at Sydney Cove in 1825, and was subsequently convicted of highway robbery and sentenced to death. He escaped and waged a guerrilla war against the wealthy for more than two years in the country around Sydney. On September 1st 1830 he was ambushed by a police party near Cambelltown and shot dead, his companions Webber and Warmsley escaping into the bush. This version was eventually outlawed as seditious so the name of the protagonist changed.

The resulting Irish version is about a young emigrant, named Jack Duggan, who left the town of Castlemaine, County Kerry, Ireland, for Australia in the 1800s. According to the song (and in keeping with the true story of Jack Donahoe), he spent his time there 'robbing from the rich to feed the poor'. In the song, the protagonist is fatally wounded in an ambush when his heart is pierced by the bullet of Fitzroy.

The Australian version has Jack Doolan (or sometimes Jack Dowling) as the protagonist, and here Castlemaine refers to the Australian town in Victoria. In both versions variation in the wording and language occurs across different sources.

In his Old Bush Songs, Banjo Patterson wrote: "it will be noticed that the same chorus is sung to both 'The Wild Colonial Boy' and 'Bold Jack Donahoo'. Several versions of both songs were sent in, but the same chorus was always made to do duty for both songs." This chorus, included in some (not all) Australian versions is as follows:


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.

Notes

  • Textual variation between versions.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Old Bush Songs : Composed and Sung in the Bushranging, Digging and Overlanding Days A. B. Paterson (editor), Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1905 Z59487 1905 anthology poetry Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1905
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Australian Bush Songs and Ballads Will Lawson (editor), Sydney : Frank Johnson , 1944 Z331491 1944 anthology poetry Sydney : Frank Johnson , 1944 pg. 102-104
    Note: With first line: 'It's of a wild Colonial boy - Jack Dowling was his name:'
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Freedom on the Wallaby : Poems of the Australian People Marjorie Pizer (editor), Sydney : Pinchgut Press , 1953 Z58626 1953 anthology poetry Sydney : Pinchgut Press , 1953 pg. 43-44
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon New Land, New Language : An Anthology of Australian Verse Judith Wright , Melbourne : Oxford University Press , 1957 Z560909 1957 anthology poetry

    'Poetry in themes - Pioneering - Convicts and bushrangers - Birds and animals - Towns and people - War - Youth - Time and eternity - Thought and personality.' (Source: WorldCat website)

    Melbourne : Oxford University Press , 1957
    pg. 9-10
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Penguin Australian Song Book J. S. Manifold , Ringwood : Penguin , 1964 Z406059 1964 anthology poetry Ringwood : Penguin , 1964 pg. 52-54
    Note: With musical score. First line: 'There was a wild colonial youth, Jack Doolan was his name;'
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon From the Ballads to Brennan T. Inglis Moore (editor), Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1964 Z407973 1964 anthology poetry Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1964 pg. 18-19
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon An Introduction to Australian Literature Literary Criterion 6.3 (1964) C. D. Narasimhaiah (editor), Brisbane : Jacaranda Press , 1965 Z283778 1964 anthology Brisbane : Jacaranda Press , 1965 pg. 160-161
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Folk Songs of Australia and the Men and Women Who Sang Them John Meredith (editor), Hugh Anderson (editor), Sydney : Ure Smith , 1967 Z456559 1967 anthology poetry criticism biography interview Sydney : Ure Smith , 1967 pg. 72
    Note: With first line: 'Twas of a wild colonial boy, Jack Doolan was his name,
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Old Australian Ballads : An Anthology W. N. Walker (editor), Sydney : School Projects , 1967 Z1569531 1967 anthology poetry children's

    Collection of well known Australian songs and ballads, divided into sections based on the historical subject matter: 'Ball and Chain', 'Bail Up', 'The Roaring Days', 'Where's Your Licence?', 'Stockmen', 'Wool Away!' and 'Such is Life'.

    The sections - and some of the individual works - are prefaced with educational introductions by the editor explaining historical context as well as terms and concepts.

    Australian Scene : Australian Ballads
    Sydney : School Projects , 1967
    pg. 16-17
    Note: Missing the first verse, and with first line: When scarcely sixteen years of age, Jack left his father's home,
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Overlander Songbook Ronald George Edwards (editor), Ronald George Edwards (illustrator), Ferntree Gully : Rams Skull Press , 1956 Z856165 1956 anthology poetry prose Adelaide : Rigby Publishers , 1971 pg. 20-1
    Note: Includes annotations by editor. With title: Wild Colonial Boy 1. First line: 'There was a wild colonial, Jack Doolan was his name,'.
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Complete Book of Australian Folk Lore Bill Scott , Sydney : Ure Smith , 1976 Z206758 1976 anthology poetry short story prose Sydney : Ure Smith , 1976 pg. 211
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Old Bush Songs and Rhymes of Colonial Times Douglas Stewart (editor), Nancy Keesing (editor), Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1957 Z389570 1957 anthology poetry Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1976 pg. 39-40
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Along the Western Road : Bush Stories and Ballads Percy Lindsay (illustrator), London Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1981 Z1399376 1981 anthology poetry short story London Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1981 pg. 34-36
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon A Treasury of Colonial Poetry Milsons Point : Currawong , 1982 Z363730 1982 anthology poetry Milsons Point : Currawong , 1982 pg. 27
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse Beatrice Davis , Melbourne : Nelson , 1984 Z315151 1984 anthology poetry biography Melbourne : Nelson , 1984 pg. 17-18
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon My Country : Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years Leonie Kramer (editor), Sydney : Lansdowne , 1985 Z219820 1985 anthology poetry short story Sydney : Lansdowne , 1985 pg. 84-85
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Bushwackers Australian Song Book Jan Wositzky (editor), Dobe Newton (editor), South Yarra : 1988 Z240373 1988 anthology poetry short story extract humour South Yarra : 1988 pg. 14-15
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon A Collection of Australian Bush Verse Castle Hill : Peter Antill-Rose , 1989 Z91384 1989 anthology poetry Castle Hill : Peter Antill-Rose , 1989 pg. 102
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Book of Australian Ballads Melbourne : Macmillan , 1989 Z1188292 1989 anthology poetry children's A collection of favourite Australian ballads telling bushrangers, drought, the Wild Colonial Boy, and much more besides. South Melbourne : Macmillan Australia , 1989 pg. 29-32
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Macmillan Anthology of Australian Literature Ken L. Goodwin (editor), Alan Lawson (editor), South Melbourne : Macmillan , 1990 Z535337 1990 anthology criticism correspondence extract poetry drama biography short story prose humour satire travel

    'Poems, stories, letters and extracts from novels, plays and journals present a great variety of responses to Australia and to the art of writing. Items have been arranged into 12 groupings that reflect different ways of seeing the material of Australian writing. Each section has its own introduction. Problems are explained, theories and contexts for a wider understanding are offered. The book includes biographical guides to all authors and a full chronological table of events in the literary history of Australia.'   (Publication summary)

    South Melbourne : Macmillan , 1990
    pg. 251
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon An Anthology of Commonwealth Poetry C. D. Narasimhaiah (editor), Chennai : Macmillan , 1990 Z1176727 1990 anthology poetry Chennai : Macmillan , 1990 pg. 110-111
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon A Treasury of Bush Verse G. A. Wilkes (editor), North Ryde : Angus and Robertson , 1991 Z61919 1991 anthology poetry humour North Ryde : Angus and Robertson , 1991 pg. 4-5
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon On the Track with Bill Bowyang : With Australian Bush Recitations Hugh Anderson , 'Bill Bowyang' , Dawn Anderson (editor), Ascot Vale : Red Rooster Press , 1991-1992 Z1437804 1991-1992 anthology poetry Comprises all nine booklets in Bill Bowyang's Australian Bush Recitations series published between 1933 and 1940, together with a comprehensive critical, biographical and bibliographical introduction. Ascot Vale : Red Rooster Press , 1991-1992 pg. 95-96 Section: Volume 2
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Reconnoitres : Essays in Australian Literature in Honour of G. A. Wilkes Margaret Harris (editor), Elizabeth Webby (editor), South Melbourne : Sydney University Press in association with Oxford University Press , 1992 Z151560 1992 anthology prose criticism biography South Melbourne : Sydney University Press in association with Oxford University Press , 1992 pg. 239-240
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads [1993] Elizabeth Webby (editor), Philip Butterss (editor), Ringwood : Penguin , 1993 Z136407 1993 anthology poetry humour satire Ringwood : Penguin , 1993 pg. 157-158
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse Beatrice Davis , Melbourne : Nelson , 1984 Z315151 1984 anthology poetry biography Sydney : State Library of New South Wales Press , 1996 pg. 17-18
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Classic Australian Verse Maggie Pinkney (editor), Noble Park : Five Mile Press , 2001 Z864790 2001 anthology poetry Noble Park : Five Mile Press , 2001 pg. 125-127
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Turning Wave : Poems and Songs of Irish Australia Colleen Burke (editor), Vincent Woods (editor), Armidale : Kardoorair Press , 2001 Z929605 2001 anthology poetry Armidale : Kardoorair Press , 2001 pg. 75
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Our Country : Classic Australian Poetry : From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson Michael Cook (editor), Seven Hills : Little Hills Press , 2004 Z1266972 2004 anthology poetry Seven Hills : Little Hills Press , 2004 pg. 59-60
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry John Kinsella (editor), Camberwell : Penguin , 2009 Z1553543 2009 anthology poetry (taught in 16 units)

    'This is a comprehensive survey of Australian poetic achievement, ranging from early colonial and indigenous verse to contemporary work, from the major poets to those who deserve to be better recognised.' (Provided by the publisher).

    Camberwell : Penguin , 2009
    pg. 57-58
    Note: First line : There was a wild colonial boy, Jack Donahoe by name,
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature Nicholas Jose (editor), Kerryn Goldsworthy (editor), Anita Heiss (editor), David McCooey (editor), Peter Minter (editor), Nicole Moore (editor), Elizabeth Webby (editor), Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2009 Z1590615 2009 anthology correspondence diary drama essay extract poetry prose short story (taught in 23 units)

    'Some of the best, most significant writing produced in Australia over more than two centuries is gathered in this landmark anthology. Covering all genres - from fiction, poetry and drama to diaries, letters, essays and speeches - the anthology maps the development of one of the great literatures in English in all its energy and variety.

    'The writing reflects the diverse experiences of Australians in their encounter with their extraordinary environment and with themselves. This is literature of struggle, conflict and creative survival. It is literature of lives lived at the extremes, of frontiers between cultures, of new dimensions of experience, where imagination expands.

    'This rich, informative and entertaining collection charts the formation of an Australian voice that draws inventively on Indigenous words, migrant speech and slang, with a cheeky, subversive humour always to the fore. For the first time, Aboriginal writings are interleaved with other English-language writings throughout - from Bennelong's 1796 letter to the contemporary flowering of Indigenous fiction and poetry - setting up an exchange that reveals Australian history in stark new ways.

    'From vivid settler accounts to haunting gothic tales, from raw protest to feisty urban satire and playful literary experiment, from passionate love poetry to moving memoir, the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature reflects the creative eloquence of a society.

    'Chosen by a team of expert editors, who have provided illuminating essays about their selections, and with more than 500 works from over 300 authors, it is an authoritative survey and a rich world of reading to be enjoyed.' (Publisher's blurb)

    Allen and Unwin have a YouTube channel with a number of useful videos on the Anthology.

    Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2009
    pg. 127-128

Works about this Work

Ballads. Prelude to Literature Ballads in Australian Literature Tom Sigley , 2008 single work criticism
— Appears in: Writing Across the Continent 2008;
The Wild Colonial Boy Rides Again and Again: An Australian Legend Abroad Graham Seal , 1994 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Studies , November no. 7 1994; (p. 161-172)
The Case of the Stolen Jumbuck Stephen Knight , 1992 single work criticism
— Appears in: Reconnoitres : Essays in Australian Literature in Honour of G. A. Wilkes 1992; (p. 24-35, 238-241)
Australia in Irish Ballads, Australian Songs in Ireland, Irish Ballads in Australia and Irish Elements in Australian Folk or Popular Songs Georges Denis Zimmermann , 1983 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Papers : Yugoslavia, Europe and Australia 1983; (p. 237-251)
The Wild Colonial Bounder Colin Mackay , 1981 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian Magazine , 17-18 October 1981; (p. 7)
Last amended 20 May 2015 14:06:46
Settings:
  • Bush,
  • Beechworth, Beechworth - Yackandandah area, North East Victoria, Victoria,
  • Castlemaine, Castlemaine area, Ballarat - Bendigo area, Victoria,
  • 1860s
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