John Gillan 2 - Sligo Poets

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John Gillan Poems 2 - The Sligo Nationalist 1913

Another batch of poems from this most proliifc of Sligo versifiers. From the opening line in The Newsboys' Strike it does appear that he set himself the task of producing a poem for each issue of the Sligo Nationalist. Thankfully he appears not to have succeeded though the colour and details of some of these offer us insights not given by the regular newspaper reports.

The officious railway employee in At the Railway Gate appears to have been Andrew Flood, aged 35 in 1911 and born in Westmeath. He lived with his Sligo-born wife, Elizabeth, and the surviving five children, of the seven who had been born to them, in Lungy Street, Sligo.

In Houl' that Fella Gillan makes fun of what appears to have been a common catch cry in the streets. He mentions both cinemas in the town, both of which put on plays and variety shows as well as films. He also makes reference to Sligo suffragettes. More about these on this page. In There's a Man in the Water he makes fun of the R.I.C. policemen. A D.I. was a District Inspector and No. Two refers to one of the two R.I.C. police barracks in Sligo town, No. 1 and No. 2.

The Home Rule march and meeting at Sligo Town Hall at the end of September 1913 was the culmination of a month of meetings in favour of Home Rule. Thomas Scanlan, M.P. for North Sligo attended and spoke. The banner above the platform read "We Want Home Rule".

The absence of issues of this newspaper for earlier in 1913 means we don't know if Gillan wrote poems about the almost three month long Sligo Quay strike. As we see below he did write about a brief newsboy strike later in the year and about the Transport Union excursion to Dublin. This was led by John Lynch, the union leader and elected corporation member.

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Sligo Nationalist 16 August 1913
        At the Railway Gate.

               (By J. Gillan).

On last Sunday evening at the Railway
     Gate there stood
That great tall railway porter, Big
     "Pat Bartley" Fl—d.

All the excursion parties to the Station
     they did go
After viewing all the scenery round our
     grand town of Sligo!

There were labourers and tradesmen,
     and shopkeepers as well,
And also well-dressed ladies, but
     Fl—d them all did tell

"If you haven’t got your ticket ready, be
     you beggarman or peer,
To the Station you won’t go, I’m
     talkin’ d’ye hear?

There he stood Big Pat Fl—d (It’s a
     very watery name) –
And none could pass without a ticket
     if from Heaven down he came.

Well "iv course, mysel" was there – I
     had no ticket I must confess
But I thought that I should enter when
     belonging to the Press.

The excursionists were all there and to
     Fl—d I said:
I want to see a Ballina man"–he
     smiled and shook his head.

Says he "To the Station you I
     won’t allow!"
So I gave up hopes there and then, as
     I didn’t want a row.

There was no use further in "givin’ out
     my weight"
As I couldn’t "cross" the big "Porter"
     Fl—d at the gate.

After the excursion left there was at
     the Railway Gate
A "double-barrelled" "omadawn," but
     he wasn’t long without a "mate."

A man who "clanes" a big pot or a
     boiler–I’m not sure –
With a great big Dublin accent he
     really is a "cure."

He thinks so much about himself that
     you’d think he was a lord;
When there is a vacancy we’ll shove
     him in for the "South Ward!"

After all was over, I then left for
Well satisfied with the day’s fun and
     the makings of this poem!!

      Sligo Nationalist 13 September 1913
            "There’s a Man in the Water!"
                         (By J. Gillan).

"There’s a man in the water! There’s a man in the water!"
     Says the gent who works in the mill
On Monday night last (as the Union band passed)
     "That they’re tryin’ to drown and to kill!"

Off he went to "No. Two," where he set up a hullabullu,
     And the police then ran to the scene;
Then a crowd gathered round to see the man that was drowned,
     Or what did it all mean!

One lad of a wag said it was an oul’ bag
     That in the water floated,
And for a "lark" it was thrown out in the dark,
     But this was a "buck" was well "noted."

Says one "Bobbie" "I’ll try–(maybe I’ll be made a D.I.)—
     This ‘poor man’s’ life to save,
And with courage and will I’ll not stop until
     I free him from a watery grave."

Then with a big graip he ran, to haul in the "man"
     That in the river lay groanin’,
And although it was harsh, they pulled him on to the arch
     Where the "poor devil" lay gruntin’ and moanin’.

But the police got a "brake" when they saw their mistake,
     While each of them commenced to shiver,
Said one "Shure, begob, it’s but a poor dog
     That kem floatin’ down the river!"

There was a laugh and a jeer—then the crowd gave a cheer,
     While the police ran as quick as they could,—
Cursing the "bubbow" who kicked up such a row
     About an oul’ dog that came down with the flood!!!

       Sligo Nationalist 20 September 1913
          The Transport Union’s Excursion
                           (By J. Gillan).

On last Sunday morning I heard the "rolling" of drums,
And a voice on the street shouted: "Here the band comes!"
I ran to the door to see them passing by,
"Begorra, it’s the Transport Union Excursion!" says I.

As they came near the band played very fine,
And a great body of working men marched in "time."
They soon got to the station, and at 7.10
The train steamed off to Dublin with those great Union men.

On the way up they had many a laugh and a joke,
The journey being pleasant until they reached the "Big Smoke."
When arriving in Dublin the sight it was grand—
They were met by their brother wearing the Union "Red Hand."

After parading the city, those fine fellows all
Were received with great welcome at the Liberty Hall;
They went then in the evening to the Transport Park,
Where the Band played fine marches and up to the mark.

Here there were football, tug-of-war, and a song and a dance.
And enjoying himself each one got a chance.
When the fun was all over they started for home,
And soon got to the great railway station—Broadstone.

The Band played rousing airs while there they did stand,
And took their seats in the train, Mr. Lynch in command.
The whistle then blew and away went the train,
And at half-part one they were in Sligo again!

Sligo Nationalist 23 August 1913
       "HOUL’ THAT FELLA."

              (By J. Gillan).

When I went out the other night–
The moon was shining grand and bright–
A ruffian screamed with all his might
     "Houl’ that fella!"

Troth to me the insult was great,
And if I was able him I’d "bate,"
For he always shouts at me early and late
     "Houl’ that fella!"

I made up my mind to see a play,
To Kilgannon’s Theatre I took my way.
But the man on the door roared when I "forgot" to pay
     "Houl’ that fella!"

Into Monson’s pictures one night I went.
And with no less than the balcony would I be content,
But when taking a chair there yelled a gent.:
     "Houl’ that fella!"

Three Suffragettes one day passing the "Champion" office gate,
With large cards on their breasts tied so "nate,"
When an ass at them bawled they shouted at a "great rate"
     "Houl’ that fella!"

When Carson and his "True-blue Brigade"
With their wooden guns go on parade
I’m sure John Redmond has often said:
     "Houl’ that fella!"

One day I went into a pub that I know,
And got a drink, and was preparing to go,
When the publican shouted "He has ‘shot the crow’"–
     "Houl’ that fella!"

Sligo Nationalist 30 August 1913
       The Newsboys’ Strike
               (By J. Gillan).

What my rhyme will be this week—
     Whether wrong or right—
Is what was never known before:
     The Sligo Newsboy’s Strike.

On last Friday evening through the town
     There was great noise,
And there came down O’Connell Street
     About one hundred little boys!

They marched to the railway station,
     With their commander at their head,
And in troth I think some people
     Of these youngsters were in dread!

There were "Bobbies" at the railway
     Guarding all the papers
Afraid that any of these boys
     Would get on with any capers.

Early on Saturday morning
     Were drafted, d’ye see,
One hundred great big "consthubles"
     Of the Constabulary!!!

With their bayonets and revolvers,
     And blankets and their batons,
The Derry riots weren’t in it! What!
     We thought we’d be blown to atoms.

They patrolled the town by day
     And also watched by night;
And now there’s not a word about
     The Sligo Newsboys’ Strike!

Sligo Nationalist 13 September 1913
Lines on Last Sunday’s Home Rule Demonstration
                 (By J. Gillan).

"We must have Home Rule for Ireland!"
   Is the cry from far and near,
And Carson and his "army"
   Indeed we do not fear.

In this town on last Sunday
   There marched in grand array
Fifteen thousand Irishmen,
   While the bands did sweetly play.

There were bands from Killinnumery,
   Drumcliffe, Keash, and Dromard.
Also Cliffoney and elsewhere,
   Whom were held in great regard.

There were Hibernians and Foresters,
   Who are worthy of special note,
The Band of the Transport Union,
   And Boys’ Brigade from Ballymote.

A fine contingent also came
   From good old Cloonacool—
The boys that are not afraid to say
   That "We must have Home Rule."

There started from the Town Hall
   The greatest sight was ever seen.
Through Wine Street and Lord Edward Street,
   Where was a lovely arch of green.

This splendid arch grand mottoes bore
   (Gently moving with the breeze)
And was nicely brought across the street
   At Mr. Doherty’s.

On it were: "We want home Rule"
   And "Ireland a Nation."
The bands playing charming music
   Going by the Railway Station.

On through Wolfe Tone Street they marched
   Then the town of Sligo round.
And halted at the grand Town Hall
   For their meeting ground.

Great speeches were delivered,
   And cheer after cheer up went,
And soon, please God, in College Green
   We’ll have our Parliament!!!

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