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Lyr Add: West Rutland Marble Bawn

Wolfgang 08 Jan 03 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,L. Sherman 26 Sep 17 - 10:29 AM
GUEST,Reagh Greenleaf Jr. 08 Feb 18 - 01:11 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: WEST RUTLAND MARBLE BAWN (James Kearny)
From: Wolfgang
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 11:18 AM

This song from Dan Milner's CD 'Irish in America' is one of the few songs from that CD that is not in Mudcat yet. I've stumbled upon it in a search ( and here's the result of a copy and paste job. (I haven't checked, but I hope it is the same song)


(James Kearny)

    Come all you good people and attend for a while
    To a story I will unfold
    The truth I'll tell, you know full well
    As I have plainly told
    A dollar a day, it will be your pay
    Go to work at the earliest dawn
    It's a weary life to be pleasing a wife
    And chipping the marble bawn

    When I came to your state, 'twas very late
    'Bout 9 in the afternoon
    The night being dark and me being strange
    I knew not where to roam
    I boarded a train, to West Rutland I came
    Where the steam mill is always sawing
    The beautiful stone, the like never was known
    They call it the marble bawn

    The Irish boys that fear no noise
    Will stand on the rocks so brave
    The sound of the drill will be never still
    But echoing always in your ears
    They'll stand in line like the wild geese flying
    And they'll never be scolding or jawing
    They're the very best boys that ever wore frays
    For chipping the marble bawn

    Now when you're dead and in your grave
    With a stone at your head and feet
    Your parents will lament and be discontent
    And bitterly mourn and weep
    Will be your doom to lie 'neath in your tomb
    With a cross so bravely drawn
    Your name enrolled and prayers for your soul
    Engraven on the marble bawn

    My song I'll end, success to each friend
    That ere left the shamrock shore
    May you live in peace with the Yankee race
    And by each other be dearly adored
    We are free in the land of liberty
    No tyranny for us will be drawn
    We'll sit at ease and sing the praise
    Of West Rutland marble bawn

    by James Kearny (late 19th century)

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From: GUEST,L. Sherman
Date: 26 Sep 17 - 10:29 AM

Found on As my great great grandfather Smith Sherman is mentioned, I feel that verse should definitely be included:
"West Rutland Marble Bawn"
peterpatten   (View posts)
Posted:        16 Nov 2002 11:33AM
Classification: Query
Edited: 30 May 2004 06:52PM
Surnames: Carney Kearney Gill (?) Sherman Parker Sheldon

by Jimmy Carney

Come all ye good people attend for awhile to a story I will unfold;
The truth I'll tell you'll know right well as I was plainly told.
A dollar a day will be your pay and go work at the earliest dawn;
It is a weary life to be pleasing a wife and cutting the Marble Bawn.

The Irish Boys that fear no noise, they will stand on the rock so brave;
The noise of their drill will never be still but echoing in your ear;
They'll stand in a line like the Wild Geese flying, and they will never be scolding or jawing;
They are the very best boys that ever wore frieze for chipping out the Marble Bawn

When I came to this state it was very late, about nine in the afternoon;
The night being dark and I being strange, I knew not where to roam;
But I started on the train and to West Rutland I came, where the steam mill is always sawing
The beautiful marble stone the like was never known; they call it the Marble Bawn.

There is one man still, they call John Gill I must not forget to praise;
He's working hard from morn till night , and he never stands at ease;
The noise of his sledge on an iron wedge, like shot when the trigger is drawn;
He's the best in the state, of his size or weight, for raising the Marble Bawn.

Now Sheldon has a ledge, it lies to the south, it is the deepest in the diggings all around;
And Parker has a ledge it lies to the north it is the latest that has been found.
But Sherman has a ledge in the midst of them both, that the like of it was never known;
There's nothing can compare but the snow from the air, to that beautiful marble stone.

So now when you are dead with a stone at your head to mark where your body do lie;
Your parents will lament, they'll be discontent and bitterly they'll weep and cry;
And then it will be your doom to lie beneath a tomb that the Cross will be so neatly drawn;
Your name will be enrolled and prayers for your soul will be engraven on the Marble Bawn.

So now my song will end and success to every friend that ever left the Shamrock Shore;
May they live in peace with the Yankee race and each other dearly adore.
So now we are free in the land of liberty where no tyranny over us will be drawn;
We will sit down at ease and sing the praise of West Rutland Marble Bawn

(I've run out of time but hope to comment on the particulars of this 19th century ballad soon.) pjp

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: West Rutland Marble Bawn
From: GUEST,Reagh Greenleaf Jr.
Date: 08 Feb 18 - 01:11 PM

Hi Folks,
I'm an artist, singer and bodhran player in Vermont (see
). My wife is from Rutland, and we've had the chance to do some exploring in the area.

I learned of this song from Mr. Patten, and another great singer, Andrew (last name?) in Vermont who also studies and sings as Gaeilge.
I'm recording a rhythmic arrangement with my duo, The County Down.
Here's a rough take at the pub:

I'm very grateful for Mr. Milner and Margaret MacArthur's fine renditions, which are more open and reminiscent of Sean Nos singing - how Carney likely sang it in the barber shops and pubs of Rutland West Parish in the mid-19th century.

Author and Fenian Historical Society founder, Liam McKone, and I organized an Easter Rising commemoration in West Rutland in 2016.
It was amazing to see all the Irish names and counties of origin on the white marble tombstones at St. Bridget's Cemetery.
Many of these quarrymen joined up with Capt. Lonergan's 13th Vermont Infantry, Co. A (Emmett Guards) and helped turn the tide of Pickett's Charge at Gettysberg. Many also became members of the Fenian Brotherhood, and were involved in the Fenian Raids into Canada 1866-71.
See information, links, and a picture of one of the white marble headstones here:

The song's author, James Patrick Carney/Kearny, was sort of the local Seanachie. He emmigrated from Tipperary to Vermont in the 1850's. He is mentioned throughout Mary Lee Dunn's book on Rutland, VT's Irish heritage: 'Ballykilcline Rising - From Famine Ireland to Immigrant America'.
The author includes part of this song, but unfortunately gives an inaccurate contextual translation for 'Bawn' - writing that it's derived from the Irish for 'cattle-fort' and 'barn'.
With the song's meter so easily fitting that of the Irish song 'Rocks of Ban' (which Carney likely knew), and the related sentiment of that song - Bawn can only be the Irish word 'ban', meaning 'white'. The region is known for it's white marble, as described in the song.
Here's another excerpt of Kearny's poetry from Dunn's research, showing his Fenian sympathies:

I am old Grania, and my country have suffered sore;
I am looking out for assistance from the West, or Columbian shore . . .
There is Col. John O'Mahoney with his well armed Fenian Band,
For to hunt John Bull, the tyrant, the oppressor of Old Ireland . . .
Fair play and Liberty we must have; poor Ireland you must be free.
(Carney, Violet-Book, p.15)

The Violet Book of Neshobe was part of a series of books written in different colored inks, compiled by an organization in the area at the time. The Violet Book was a collection of Carney's poems and songs, and I believe was presented to him later in his life.
I'm slowly researching this whole history, and have a long-term project of interpreting and recording his songs, perhaps in cooperation with Vermont historical societies, humanities council, etc.

Any feedback or further information about this song, or James Carney/Kearny, is appreciated.

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