Into our townlan, on a night of snow, Rode a man from God-knows-where; None of us bade him stay or go, Nor deemed him friend, nor damned him foe. But we stabled his big roan mare: For in our townlan we're decent folk, An if he didn't speak, why none of us spoke, An we sat till the fire burned low.
We're a civil sort in our wee place, So we made the circle wide Round Andy Lemon's cheerful blaze, An wished the man his length o days; An a good end to his ride, He smiled in under his slouchy hat Says he: "There's a bit of a joke in that, For we ride different ways."
The whiles we smoked we watched him From his seat fornent the glow, I nudged Joe Moore, "You wouldn't dare To ask him who he's for meetin there, An how far has he got to go?" But Joe wouldn't dare, nor Wullie Boy Scott, An he took no drink - neither cold nor hot This man from God-knows-where.
It was closin time, an late forbye, When us ones braved the air I ne'er saw worse, may I live or die, Than the sleet that night, an I says, says I, "Ye'll find he's for stoppin there." But at screich o day, through the gable pane I watched him spur in the peltin rain, An I juked from his rovin eye.
Two winters more, then the Trouble Year, When the best that a man could feel Was the pike he kept in hidlin's near, Till the blood o hate an the blood o fear Would be redder nor rust on the steel. Us ones quit from mindin the farms Let them take what we gave wi the weight o our arms, From Saintfield to Kilkeel.
In the time o the hurry, tho we had no lead We all of us fought with the rest An if e'er a one shook like a tremblin reed None of us gave neither hint nor heed, Nor even showed we'd guessed. We men of the North had a word to say, An we said it then, in our own dour way, An we spoke as we thought was best.
All Ulster over, the weemen cried For the standin crops on the lan Mony's the sweetheart an mony's the bride Would liefer hae gone till where he died. An hae murned her lone by her man, But us ones weathered the thick of it, An we used to dander along an sit In Andy's side by side.
What with discourse goin to an fro, The night would be wearin thin, Yet never so late when we rose to go But someone would say: "D'ye mind thon snow, An the man came wanderin in?" An we'd be fallin to talk again, If by chance he was one o them The man who went like the win
Well, 'twas gettin on past the heat o the year When I rode to Newtown fair; I sold as I could - the dealers were near Only three pounds eight for the Innis steer, An nothin at all for the mare - But I met McKee in the throng o the street Says he, "The grass has grown under our feet Since they hanged young Warwick here"
An he told me that Boney had promised help To a man in Dublin town Says he, "If ye've laid the pike on the shelf, Ye'd best go home hot-foot by yerself, An once more take it down." So by Comber road I trotted the gray An never cut corn until Killyleagh Stood plain on the risin groun
For a wheen o days we sat waitin the word To rise an go at it like men, But no French ships sailed into Cloughey Bay, An we heard the black news on a harvest day That the cause was lost again; An Joey an me, an Wullie Boy Scott, We agreed to ourselves we'd as lief as not Hae been found in the thick o the slain
By Downpatrick Gaol I was bound to fare On a day I'll remember, faith For when I came to the prison square The people were waitin in hundreds there, An you wouldn't hear stir nor breath For the sodgers were standin, grim an tall, Round a scaffold built fornent the wall, An a man stepped out for death
I was brave an near to the edge o the throng, Yet I knowed the face again, An I knowed the set, an I knowed the walk An the sound of his strange up-country talk, For he spoke out right an plain Then he bowed his head to the swingin rope While I said, "Please God" to his dyin hope An "Amen" to his dyin prayer. That the wrong would cease an the right prevail - For the man that they hanged at Downpatrick Gaol Was the man from God-knows-where