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Lyr Add: Bold Captain Freney

Jim Dixon 23 Dec 09 - 07:25 PM
Thompson 24 Dec 09 - 06:51 AM
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From: Jim Dixon
Date: 23 Dec 09 - 07:25 PM

From Journal of the Kilkenny and South-East of Ireland Archaeological Society, Vol. 1, 1856-57 (Dublin: McGlashan & Gill, 1858), page 59:

[That page also has the tune.]


1. One morning as, I being free from care,
I rode abroad to take the air,
'Twas my fortune for to spy
A jolly Quaker riding by;

CHORUS: And it's oh, bold Captain Freney!
Oh, bold Freney, oh!

2. Said the Quaker—"I'm very glad
That I have met with such a lad;
There is a robber on the way,
Bold Captain Freney, I hear them say."

3. "Captain Freney I disregard,
Although about me I carry my charge;*
Because I being so cunning and cute,
It's where I hide it's within my boot."

4. Says the Quaker—"It is a friend
His secret unto me would lend;
I'll tell you now where my gold does lie—
I have it sewed beneath my thigh."

5. As we rode down towards Thomastown,
Bold Freney bid me to 'light down.
"Kind sir, your breeches you must resign;
Come, quick, strip off, and put on mine,
[CHORUS:] For I am bold Captain Freney," &c.

6. Says the Quaker, "I did not think
That you'd play me such a roguish trick
As my breeches I must resign,
I think you are no friend of mine."

7. As we rode a little on the way,
We met a tailor dressed most gay;
I boldly bid him for to stand,
Thinking he was some gentleman.

8. Upon his pockets I laid hold—
The first thing I got was a purse of gold;
The next thing I found, which did me surprise,
Was a needle, thimble, and chalk likewise.

9. "Your dirty trifle I disdain."
With that I return'd him his gold again.
"I'll rob no tailor if I can—
I'd rather ten times rob a man."**

10. It's time for me to look about;
There's a proclamation just gone out;
There's fifty pounds bid on my head,
To bring me in alive or dead.

"After Freney's pardon, unlike most persons of his class, he never relapsed into a course of dishonesty. Having been unable to procure the means of emigrating, Lord Carrick's influence procured for him a small public office, that of a tide-waiter at the port of New Ross, and he always maintained a character for integrity and propriety in that situation. He lived to so good an age, that many people still alive remember to have seen him in their childhood; and, so far from any stigma being considered to rest on his character, he was rather viewed as a celebrity, and his conversation courted and encouraged by people of the better class of society.*** His grave, in the churchyard at Innistiogue, is pointed out as an object of interest by the peasantry of the locality, but is unmarked by a gravestone."

* The ballads composed by the Irish peasantry may be recognised by the peculiarity of rhythm of which the above is a specimen. In the Irish language the vowels alone are required to agree in sound, and this rule has been transferred by the peasantry to their English versification. Other examples of this rhythm occur in the ballad.

** It would appear from Freney's "Life and Adventures," that the Quaker and the tailor of the ballad were in reality one and the same person. He says:—
  "Nash brought me word there was a Quaker gone by, and that if I did not hasten he would reach Thomastown before I could overtake him. I accordingly pursued, and soon overtook him, desiring him to stand and deliver. He drew out of his pocket some gold and silver, amongst which was a thimble. I asked him what he was. He said, a tailor. I then asked him what the deuce sent him in my way, charging him not to discover that ever I attempted robbing him; and at the same time gave him his money and thimble, saying I would rob nobody but a man."

*** O'Keeffe, the dramatist, tells us that he met Freney whilst he was acting with a theatrical company in Kilkenny, and thus describes him:—
  "One day, I was, with some others, taking a repast in a tavern there [Kilkenny], when a little man walked in; he was elderly, and had but one eye. Some person asked him to take a glass; he did so. This man was the once remarkable and, indeed, notorious, bold Captain F—— of whom were made ballad-songs. He was the audacious and resolute leader of the Rapparees. When a General with a troop of horse went to take him prisoner, Captain F—— called out, and said he would surrender, if the General would ride up to him alone; the other complied; the Captain placed his pistol to the General's breast, and took from him his purse and watch, in view of the whole troop of soldiers. His companions suffered by the law, but the Captain himself was made county keeper, and was of great use in preventing those outrages, of which he himself was once the most daring ringleader and perpetrator."—"Recollections of the Life of John O'Keeffe," vol. i. p. 213.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Bold Captain Freney
From: Thompson
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 06:51 AM

Interesting (if biased) account of Freney from Chapters of Dublin here.

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