Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Bakhmut Town; a tribute to Finbar, Cooper, and Dmitry – A ballad honours Finbar Cafferkey of Achill Island Co. Mayo

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In Bakhmut Town
To the tune of Roddy McCorley

Finbar Cafferkey from Achill Island County Mayo fought for the freedom of Ukraine and died in the streets of Bakhmut town.

Oh come you who love freedom and a tale I’ll have you hear
Of comrades who came to Ukraine, as foreign volunteers
From Russia and America, Ireland and all around-
And side by side, they fought and died, on the streets of Bakhmut town

I’ll sing of Finbar Cafferkey, from the island of Achill
Who’d worked to save his native land from a pipeline built by Shell
Who’d worked to rescue refugees who elsewise might be drowned
And who fought out in Rojava but who fell in Bakhmut town

There was Cooper Andrews, who had come from Cleveland’s rusty shores
Who’d gone out west to fight the fires , after fighting in the wars
He worked build the people up and tear the powers down, 
And gave his life as freedom’s price that night in Bakhmut town

Dmitry was scholar, soldier, anarchist, and friend
Born in the belly of the beast, he went where struggle went 
From Bolotnaya to Belarus, he faced the tyrants down
And died a Russian rebel on the streets of Bakhmut town

When they last stepped up the street, a rifle in each hand
beside them marched in grim array a stalwart, earnest band
They held the line, to leave none behind, as shells fell all around
And side by side they fought and died that night in Bakhmut town

Oh how the thunder of their guns shook the foeman’s heart 
Through furious fire and heavy odds, they played the hero’s part
And many from Wagner bit the dust, and fed the hungry ground
But before night passed, they’d breathed their last, and fell in Bakhmut town

They fought not for a nation, and they fought not for a state
It was for people’s freedom that our friends went to their fate
And for the day, long on the way, that all empires come down
Those heroes came in freedom’s name and fell in Bakhmut town

Roddy McCorley was a 1798 rebel who died in 1800; he became a folklore hero thanks to a a 1902 ballad written by Ethna Carbery, sung here by Tommy Makem :

The details of McCorley’s life are disputed, and the Wikipedia entry is full of negative social and political assessments (worthy of Eoghan Harris and the Workers’ Party pro-imperialist school of Irish history).

The Wikipedia entry includes a chilling extract from the Belfast Newsletter :

The Wikipedia entry states “His body was then dismembered and buried under the gallows, on the main Antrim to Derry road. A letter published in the Belfast Newsletter a few days after McCorley’s execution gave an account of the execution and how McCorley was viewed by some. In it he is called Roger McCorley, which may be his proper Christian name

Upon Friday last, a most awful procession took place here, namely the execution of Roger McCorley who was lately convicted at a court-martial, to the place of execution, Toome Bridge, the unfortunate man having been born in that neighbourhood.

As a warning to others, it is proper to observe that the whole of his life was devoted to disorderly proceedings of every kind, for many years past, scarcely a Quarter-sessions occurred but what the name of Roger McCorley appeared in a variety of criminal cases.

His body was given up to dissection and afterwards buried under the gallows…thus of late we have got rid of six of those nefarious wretches who have kept this neighbourhood in the greatest misery for some time past, namely, Stewart, Dunn, Ryan, McCorley, Caskey and the notorious Dr. Linn. The noted Archer will soon be in our Guard-room.

Roddy McCorley lives on in Ethna Carbery’s ballad – Finbar Cafferkey follows in that tradition.

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