Poem: “There Were Roses”

by Tommy Sands

So my song for you this evening, it’s not to make you sad
Nor for adding to the sorrows of our troubled northern land
But lately I’ve been thinking and it just won’t leave my mind
I’ll tell you of two friends of mine who were both good friends of mine

Isaac Scott from Banagh, he lived just across the fields
A great man for the music, the dancing and the reels
McDonald came from South Armagh to court young Alice fair
And we often met on the Ryan Road and laughter filled the air

-Chorus-

There were roses, roses
There were roses
And the tears of a people ran together

Now Isaac he was Protestant and Sean was Catholic born
But it never made a difference, for the friendship it was strong
And sometimes in the evening when we heard the sound of drums
We said it won’t divide us, we always will be one

For the ground our fathers plowed in, the soil it is the same
And the places where we say our prayers have just got different names
We talked about the friends who’d died and hoped there’d be no more
It was little then we realized the tragedy in store

– Chorus –

It was on a Sunday morning when the awful news came round
Another killing had been done just outside Newry Town
We knew that Isaac danced up there, we knew he liked the band
But when we heard that he was dead we just could not understand

We gathered round the graveside on a cold and rainy day
The minister he closed his eyes and for no revenge he prayed
And all of us who knew him from along the Ryan Road
We bowed our heads and said a prayer for the resting of his soul

– Chorus –

Now fear it filled the countryside there was fear in every home
When late at night a car came prowling round the Ryan Road
A Catholic would be killed tonight to even up the score
Oh Christ it’s young McDonald they’ve taken from the door

Isaac was my friend! he cried, he begged them with his tears
But centuries of hatred have ears that do not hear
An eye for an eye, it was all that filled their minds
And another eye for another eye till everyone is blind

– Chorus –

So my song for you this evening, it’s not to make you sad
Nor for adding to the sorrows of our troubled northern land
But lately I’ve been thinking and it just won’t leave my mind
I’ll tell you of two friends of mine who were both good friends of mine

Now I don’t know where the moral is or where this song should end
But I wonder just how many wars are fought between good friends
And those who give the orders are not the ones to die
It’s Scott and McDonald and the likes of you and I

There were roses, roses
There were roses…

We read this in Mr. Casey’s Irish Literature class at IMSA in March 2003. Seemed appropriate for today.

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One Response to Poem: “There Were Roses”

  1. Pingback: Ireland Carto-Caricatures (Map Cartoons) | This dissertation is going to be fun, like dessert

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