Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Poetry from Hazeldene

"An ode to Beeching" 

Yes you did have us “beat” with that one Mr. Chin - g!

And now 50 years are passing this week!
I guess you felt it right on the day for us, and other days for them,
Maybe you thought not enough folk travelled on it to Bury or Manchester,
Or maybe tuther way to Baxenden, Accrington, Burnley and Cowne.
Wakes trains were always full and steamed from under North Hag or (bonk!)
And Donkey Row was completely fogged owt!
Not Now!
And now 50 years are passing this week!
We’ve still got our “arches” down at Shore dear Sir,
And now we do have Ravens crossing their many bows,
And we’ve still got our memories of chugging (rather than buzzing!)
And the delightful (in its own way) smells of steam,
And fifteen years on in 1981 a “By Pass” shall be built,
Just where that very Stations weeps!

28th November 2016

"The small packets of snuff mentioned in the poem"

"Dad and Charlie Snuffy liked a pinch"
Mi father would seh,
Tek some snuff lad,
It’ll clear thi tubes,
With finger and thumb
Thad grab a pinch,
Owd it up to nostril
And sniff up til eyes wattered,
And nuuze smarted

He luvved his snuff did mi Dad,
Bowt little square packets,
And for his birthdays,
We bowt him “Hedges”
In a special silver rah’und tin,
And that always brought a smile.
And his heyes would lite up,
Cum on then let’s have a pinch!
He’d seh as soon as hi si tin!
Remember going to Billy Walsh’s shop
At top of Carr Mill Brow to buy the stuff,
It was a big thing then in 50s and 60s,
Lots ur fuuk like to tek the stuff!
He had a mate called “Charlie Snuffie”,
he met up at Parkys when putting his bet on,
And Charlie always cadged a sniff of the snuff
And every now and then Charlie would shayt!
Jon Ed, come here a getten a present for thi,
And sure enough out came a packet.
He’d grip his hand and on back,
place two little piles of snuff,
He had it measured to a fine art,
Then sniffed up like a good un!
And then there was a quick shek to head
That towd thi he were a happy chappie,
A miss dad lots but dount miss his snuff!!

Written by Bryan Yorke on 5th November 2017


Thanks to David White for sending this poem which has come from his friend (another Haslingdonian). 

I remember the cheese of my childhood ,
and the bread that we cut with a knife ,
when the children helped with the housework ,
and the man went to work not the wife .

The cheese never needed a fridge ,
and the bread was so crusty and hot .
The children were seldom unhappy
and the wife was content with her lot .

I remember the milk came in bottles ,
with yummy cream on the top ,
our dinner came hot from the oven ,
and not from the fridge in the shop .

The kids were a lot more contented ,
they didn't need money for kicks
just a game with their mates in the road ,
and sometimes the Saturday flicks .

I remember the shop on the corner ,
where a pen`orth of sweets was sold
Do you think I am a bit nostalgic
or is it i'm just getting old .

I remember the loo was a lav ,
and the bogey man came in the night ,
it wasn't the least bit funny going
outback with no light .

The interesting items we perused ,
from the newspapers cut into squares
and hung on a peg in the loo,
it took little to keep us amused .

The clothes were boiled in the copper
with plenty of rich foamy suds ,
but ironing seemed never ending 
as mum pressed every ones duds .

I remember the slap on my backside
and the taste of soap if I swore
anorexia and diets weren`t heard of
and we didn't have much choice what we wore.
Do you think that bruised our ego
or our initiative was destroyed
we ate what was put on the table

and I think life was better enjoyed .


A small ditty:

"If you should stand on Musbury Tor,
And view the landscape o'er,
Not only Haslingden would you see,
But also Hel M Shore."

(added via Marie Ives on 11th February 2016)

A poem which is about "Ellen Strange"

(In order that the reader may have Mr. Skelton's version of the story, the following lines are here quoted from "Hawkshaw-Lane and Other Poems," which is referred to above. "T'Hill" in the first line is Holcombe Hill.

But ere we bid the "Hill" a fond farewell,
List and I will a painful story tell,
While Love and Murder and Remorse exchange,
Sad places in the tale of Ellen Strange.
A country maid whose heart was full of truth,
At Ash Farm passing guileless days of youth.
Spotless as winter's snow, her woman's fame, --
Her daily actions free from worldly blame;
And, till the light of love shone in her eyes,
No blither lassie liv'd beneath the skies.
A man in form, but devil from the womb,
A fiend on this side, and beyond the tomb!
Such was the "packman" who, by Satan's aid,
Won the fair love of this misguided maid.
Tho' Ellen had been brought her love to own,
Ne'er had she met her lover all alone,
Her guardian angel bade her answer "No",
When oft and o'er again he wish'd it so,
Feeling instinctively a kind of dread
Of some misfortune hanging o'er her head,
A manly friend, mistrustful of the Scot,
Always saw Ellen to the trysting-spot,
Then kept aloof, yet watched the wooing pair, --
"Twas Ellen's wish, so all was right and fair,
At length, through love's reproach or cruel threat,
Alas! she came alone -- and so they met!
And so they met! but how shall I proceed ?
My muse is loth to tell so dark a deed.
And so they met! in their embrace of blood,
And murdered Ellen fac'd a frowning God!
The villain fled across the ghostly heath,
O'er Flaxmoss, and the "Red Brook" stretche'd beneath,
And red and reeking truly was its wave,
To him who hurried to a murderer's grave!
You, where the chisell'd pavement lengthy lies,
O'er which the woman-killer, panting, lies,
Tradition says (and seldom she's a liar),
At every step his foot struck venging fire;
No further will we track the man of blood,
But leave him to his conscience -- and to God,
A heap of stones still marks the fatal spot,
To tempt aside the curious stranger's foot;
Not pick'd and carter there in careless load;
From off the heather and the mountain roads,
But one by one by trembling finger's laid
Down to the memory of this hapless maid;
And to this present, wandering lovers, dear.
Still drop a stony tribute and a tear.


Arrival uh cools!

Mum would shairt!
Count them bags of cool
They’re putting down shoot lad!
And mek sure tha hears ten,
So I stopped all and counted,
One, two, three and moor,
Until a raiched ten.
So conscientious was I,
Tho life depended on it.

Reet again for another month.

( 3rd Dec 2011)



(Sat 19th Dec 2015)

Saturday Morning Blues! nah cross that out and put "Saturday Morning Greens"! cos that's what I'm thinking right now! in fact I am just about to play Roy Orbison's lovely song "I drove all night to get to you".............

"Nem Mind those mince pies!
Wer coming down to Hassy for a proper pie.
A Cissy Green by name with plenty of ouzing gravy,
One’s not enough, cos it’s a real treet,
For folk like us that live out in sticks (or watter)
Christmas would never bi same without a Cissy! (or two)……
Can’t wait"………..God bless Hassy and bless Cissy TWOO!


Sheila Bell's Mum on Weaving Looms at Barlows Mill


by Sheila Bell

My mam worked in a cotton mill,
It was "Barlows Mill" Helmshore,
Long gone and now demolished
Her toiling is no more.

But in my memory still I picture,
The sights, the sounds, the smell,
Of the mill where my mam grafted,
So her kids could all 'do well'.

I don't know how those women,
Stood for hours on the cold mill Floor,
I only know how it felt for me,
To walk through the old mill door.

I'd walk down Gregory Fold alone,
as it was safe back then,
I'd only be a child,
Probably nine or ten.

But my mam was in that mill,
And I wanted to be near,
So I'd have walked a million miles,
If it meant that I could see her.

I recall my quickening heart,
As I approached the old mill door,
The one split in the middle,
That led to the cobbled floor.

Of the loading bay/canteen,
Where no tables, nor chairs could be seen
but chains that hung like spiders webs,
And a 'giant'set of wooden steps.

On which I'd climb
and park my bum,
Until someone saw me and went and told my mum,
out she'd come,
to fetch me in
to the weaving shed 
and all its din.

The fearful noise that deafened me,
I can't come in I'd say,
Keep close to the wall,
Away from the looms,
And you will be ok,
As I took in the sight of the mill,
though dim the light for my eyes,
Such wondrous visions I would see,
That would haunt my dreams at night.

Faces contorting in speech without sound,
The 'mee maw' I thought was a game,
But it was, for those women, their lifeline,
That kept them from going insane.

I remember the 'sweet' smell of cotton,
fluffy white 'snow' came to rest,
All over the 'shed' and the weavers,
And breathed in to everyone's chest.

Shafts of lovely sunlight,
Shone down from the ceiling bright,
A magical see-through ceiling,
I now know, made up of north lights.

The women were happy, never seeming to grumble,
They helped one another along,
But a loose end in't warp or was it in't weft?
Could cause a real old ding dong

With mouthing of swear words as they tried to mend it,
Then 'call for the tackler' I'd hear,
And, when he arrived he was blushing and shy,
At the sound of a raucous loud cheer.

I sensed even then that they all loved it when,
A chap came into their midst,
A room full of women all ogling and giggling,
Wishing they were the shuttle he kissed.

But it wasn't all mirth in the dark noisy mill,
The shuttle could fly and could maim,
I remember one day it flew out of mam's loom,
She was injured, knocked out, in great pain.

The shuttle was what put food on our plate,
But for me it was something to fear and to hate,
Yet I now have a shuttle to help me recall,
My trips to the mill, when I was small.

So much to learn and so much I learned,
Of life, through my trips to the mill,
I can picture today just as it was then,
And I'm certain that I always will.

But what of the child who never did see,
The things of which I have spoken?
Closing the mills that remain with us still,
Means their link to the past will be broken.

Shiela Bell - Thought you might like to see my poem about my recollections of childhood visits to my mum in the mill.  Amazing the memories that stay with us throughout our lives.  It was prompted by the proposal to close the mills just recently.  Hope you enjoy reading it. (8th December 2015)


The Vale Street Weaver

by Bryan Yorke

From Vale Street and down to Mill in bottom,
You could hear lots of cloggy noise of wood with steel,
Clipping and thudding those polished setts that shone.
“To mill we’re going to weave the cloth”.

Every day before light, we trod that weary way,
Smoggy haze dimmed the flickering gas street light,
We’d chat the news of who’s courting who,
“Whilst on way to mill to weave the cloth”.

Some had a large brown tuck box under arm,
Which had straps crossing from either side.
Some were carrying their “Billy Cans”,
“Whilst on our way to mill to weave the cloth”.

Were here again at Mill to start up steely loom,
Another long day watching shuttle go past,
With belts, pulleys and deafening noise!
Whilst we weave that ‘plain Jane’ grey cloth

I hope I don’t need tackler today, and weft will be OK,
Until they bring another beam on bogey straight away,
I guess I can sing the weaver’s song to pass the time of day,
Whilst I weave a cloth of plenty to earn another day!

 (20th November 2015)


"Ay Rag Booen" (By Bryan Yorke - 12th Feb 2012)

"Rag Booen", Any Owd Rags",
"Ay Rag Booen" was what was shayted,
O'er many times a day,
Daern main Street ur back street,
It amplified away....

Thad hear his cart a trundling,
O'er setts his poony clipped,
From Top Oth' Town to further daern,
He'd do his daily trips.

Thank ya lass fur bundle ur rags,
And neh tha wants a "donkey stoowen",
Tu brighten up tha step and cill,
Well here thi are, in cream or grey,
A Donkey Stoowern to polish away.

Thank ya lad for bundle ur rags,
And thank thi muther too.
And neh I'll bring a smile to thee,
But first, goo home, and get a jar,
Then a "gowdfish to thee can be".

A remember, Mr. Mahoney,
And Mr. Capels too,
But the ones I remember best was George,
And his son Teddy too.
Thi wer the Rag and Boone Kings,
Who'ad shayt from behind reigns,
"Ay Rag Booen", "Any Owd Rags"......


It's a bonny place so knock it daaern"

It's a bonny place so knock it daaern,
So all can watch with a drooping fraaern.
There's tons and tons of Hassy's best,
Millstone grit can't be seen to rest!
Knock it daaern, knock it daaern!

Vicarage that stood up on that bonk!
In its shadow was Martins Bank,
Grammar School was a buried Road,
Good few ton did mek that load,
Knock it daaern, knock it daaern!

Major, would turn over in his grave if he knew,
What had happened to his Highfield view,
Lions at Carter Place have gone with rest,
We're left with a porch without its crest,
Knock it daaern, knock it daaern!

Town Hall! Council will have a Ball,
With all thi hard earned cash,
So lets get shut for once and for all,
Before they have their Annual bash.
Knock it daaern, knock it daaern!

Its only a building is yon Con Club,
For some I suppose it was their hub,
Another fine place was Workhouse past,
Who needs a hospital on yon hill,
Knock it daaern, knock it daaern!

And now another bites the dust,
Which once a brewer’s dream abode,
And later a place where prayers were said,
And now all but memories are read,
Knock it daaern, knock it daaern.

Even the "mighty" can fall but we'll not have a ball!
Salem, Trinity, Primitive and John Wesley preached!
but all went down with a "bang"
and no more did the bells ring or did the people sing"
 so Knock it daaern, knock it daaern!

Nah! don't let it stand still,

Or tha'll get a bill,
Knock it daaern!

The Vicarage - St. James Church (Photo by: unknown)



by Bryan Yorke

Cridden guards you from the East,
It was that Hill of Stags,
A beacon warns to Hameldon,
Then walk o-er bridge upon a Cloud,
To a point that tips the Crown
Before you came to Play the Deer,
Down and ordered Back – Up again,
No Stags upon them hills away,
No antlers hung by Stags heads 
For riches lie within thy peat,
Hazel shouts whilst birches shine like silver,
Sides with Pinner-ed becks and Cavern’s drip,
Slate-d tunnels of catacombs, and shafts to echo grand,
Breached flatts with peppered pits
Where such lonely wretched moor grass sits
Vibrato cries with Curlew’s mourn,
Gruffs and Roding beats of drumming snipe,
This time when honeydew rushes ripe,
Along this god forsaken place. 
Those becks that sent that gin to bloom,
That helped to power many a loom,
So precious to the marigold,
And sparkles to the stickleback
I can breathe, I can sip, I can swim, I can rejoice,
To a place what’s given this town its voice
18th Feb 2015.


Haslingden Brass..

by Bryan Yorke

“So where did all rich folk hoard their brass,
In District or Martins or Midland I’ll bet,
And where did all middle folk put their two bobs,
In Trustees and Co-op for middle working set.
And where did all poor folk put their pennies,
In Halifax or Yorkshire, or well out of way”.


Where fairies dance to the spirits tune

Plunder the Glen, our dear Fairy Glen,
Where serpents hiss out loud, like,
Watchful guards o’er a bountiful bond!
Keep ever quiet to hear the creaking tales,
Of spirits weaving in and out of shadows,
Whispering their past in drunken mourn.

A worth of skilful touch to bubbling air,
That made the Fairies bent with glee,
And whisked off their feet in giddy spree,
Whilst glowing a faint flickering light,
As they brushed past the stillness of the night,
It’s still going on century on and on and on

Poem by Bryan Yorke dated 14th April 2015

(Haworth (A worth), Bentley (Bent with glee), Whisked (Whiskey)


“Spion Kop”

These lines are dedicated to those Brave Comrades who nobly gave their lives in the ever memorable Battle of Spion Kop which took place on January 24th 1900.

1)     Will you kindly pay attention,
        To my story, sad but true;
        A few words I will mention,
        That concerns both me and you.

2)     It was on the 23rd of January.
        As we rested behind Three Tree Hill,
        That the order came along the line,
        Which caused many a heart to thrill.

3)    Spion Kop had to be taken,
       By the lads of the Lancashire Brigade,
       With the Twentieth in front to hear the brunt,
       The assault had to be made.

4)    The Kings Own and the Fortieth,
       Who never yet knew fear,
       With the T.M.J’s and the Sapper Boys,
       Gave their aid the hill to clear.

5)   Along the uneven ground we marched,
       In silence deep as death;
       And when we got to the hill,
       We halted to take our breath.

6)   With bayonets fixed, we crept along,
       And pressed on with a will,
       For to uphold Old England’s honour,
       And to avenge Majuba Hill.

7)   When the summit we had gained,
      Many a heart was beating fast.
      And in the damp cold morning air,
      The challenge came at last.

8)  Halt! Who goes there? A voice rang out,
      In a tongue both strange and queer;
      A rifle shot, a bayonet charge,
      And a gallant “British Cheer”.
9)      On, on we charged; the enemy fled,
          The hill was ours at last;
          All hopes rose high as the morn drew nigh,
          For the danger that was past.

10)    Alas our hopes were soon dispelled 
          As we soon found to our cost,
          For the Boers again tried to retake,
          The position they had lost.

11)    As through the clouds the sun appears,
          Driving the mist away,
          All hearts beat fast, for low at last,
          We hold the Boers at bay.

12)    The Lancashire’s and Engineers,
          And T.M.J’s as well,
          Line the trenches all around,
          Their lives to dearly sell.

13)    The battle raged both fierce and fast,
          Throughout the livelong day;
          And ere the sun set in the west,
          Many a soul had passed away.

14)    Their’s many a mother in dear old England,
          Who will often shed a tear.
          When she thinks of her boy – her hope and joy,
          But from whom she no more will hear.

15)    Far, far away, over the hill,
          In Natal a resting place they’ve got,
          And these they lie, side by side,
         On the heights of Spion Kop.

Composed by M. Walsh, 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers 
Presume written by a Haslingden soldier in the Boer War 

Another beautiful poem written by a Haslingden soldier serving in South Africa in the late 1890s. The original is done in pencil on writing paper and penned in script.  We are indebted to Jane Siddall for kindly sharing these rare “soldiers poems”.


Spartan Mother

“One more embrace; then o’er the main
And nobly play the soldiers part,”
Thus speaks, amid the martial strain,
The Spartan mother’s aching heart,
She hides her woe,
She bids him go,
And tread the path his father’s trod,
“Who fights for England, fights for God”.
Helpless to help, she waits, she weeps,
And listens for the far-off fray,
He scours the gorge, he scales the steeps,
Scatters the foe-away; away!
Feigned, as their flight,
Smite! Again smite!
How fleet their steeds! Now nimbly shod,
She kneels, she prays; “Protect him God”,
The sisters sigh, the maiden’s tear,
The wife’s the widow’s stifled wail,
These nerve the hand, these brace the spear,
And speed them over veld and vale.
What is to him,
Or life or limb,
Who sends the chain, and breaks the rod,
Who falls for freedom, falls for God.
And should it be his happy fate,
Hale to return to home and rest,
She will be standing at the gate,
To fold him to her trembling breast,
Or should he fall,
By ridge or wall,
And lie neath some green southern sod.
“Who dies for country, sleeps with God.

No 3714 Private John Thomas Lambert, E Company,
2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers,
Convalescent Camp, Mosi River, South Africa.

(Undated but from the 1890s)


“Bath Time, blinkin ages ago” (Bryan Yorke 23rd April 2012)
“Ay lad, its Thursday, and tha nus what Thursday is!
Go down cellar and bring up tin bath and put it in front uh fire.
When thas done that, put some watter in Burco and turn it on.
Mek sure thas turned it on tu full, or tha’ll wait for ever”.

Half hour on and its only just about warm enough,
So after turning tap open on Burco and filling bowls,
Then putting this in bath and repeating process half a dozen times,
“You’d shairt Mum! Thers not enough watter here to fill bath”,

And she’d reply, “Well! What do you want me to do abowt it?”
“Use what tha’s already poured or wait for more watter warming up in Burco,
But if tha waits, first lot of watter ul a gone cowd tha nus.”
So a shouted back “Its OK I’ll mek do with what a got.”

And mum would also shout owt
“And wile yer had it, mek sure tha scrubs behind them ears,
I’ll bi checking thi owt later so do a proper job or else!
So scrub yer did, if tha new whats good for thi

Soap wi used was not like it is today, it was one of two sorts!
Either a “red oblong block” and I think it was called Lifebouy,
And sometimes she’d get that special soap which was a brown oval shape,
A think it was called carbolic or sommut like that,
What I remember most was that it stank.

So you’d ask mum, what have you got that sort of soap for? Its smelly!
And mum would reply “Its special soap, and its really good stuff,
And I want to mek sure tha washes thi head wi it”,
Whats so special about washing tha head wi it, I'd ask!. And she'd say,
Some of them at yon school are full of nits, and a don’t want thee to get em,
and if you have got any now then that special soap will kill em.

Have bin in tin bath now for at least twenty minutes or so,
So I must be really clean! Should be with all that scrubbing.
Arnt I glad that that fires up back er chimney and throwing off plenty of heat.
So, lets brave it and get get owt and get dried off.

Yud get dressed quickly and abowt to make a hasty retreat to ya room,
when just at that very moment, you’d get a clip round earhoiyell,
"And wer der ya think thas going?" And ya sey “Am gooin playin owt”,
"Yer gooin nowhere until thas emptied that bath, dried it and put it back daern celler".

"Those were the days my friend"
But today you can just lie theer and turn taps on!
And pull plug owt when thas finished!
Furgiveness is what I need ney,
For tekking it all for granted….


The Land League Centenary 1879-1979

A tribute from Haslingden to Michael Davitt
Jim Garnett 1979

Although you came from humble birth,
Throughout your life you proved our worth.
The banner, Michael, you unfurled
Was carried proudly round the World
The slogan which was your demand,
Rang out "The People for the Land!".

Reared you were amongst the bogs,
Treated worse than Landlords' dogs,
Evicted from the land at Straide,
Beneath that soil you now are laid.
But you're remembered by your race,
Of Landlords now there's not a trace.

Of men like you there was a dearth;
Such are called "The Salt of Earth",
Men prepared to make a stand,
Band together hand in hand,
Face up to the landlords might,
Help the starving in their plight.

Uprooted by the Country Gent,
Your parents couldn't pay their rent,
Cast out on the countryside,
Where many thousand peasants died,
Forced they were to emigarate,
Eighteen fifty was the date.

Many miles away from Straide,
To Lancashire your parents strayed,
Knowing not what they'd to face,
In that unknown distant place,
In Rossendale they settled down,
Chose this little cotton town.

In Haslingden they "pitched their tent",
It was a dump, though heaven sent,
On straw you slept in Pleasant Street,
Without a bed, and not a seat,
'Twas in the centre of the town,
And in a cellar underground.

Rock Hall was your first abode,
And oft' you climbed that rocky road,
'Twas there your parents habituated,
And there your arm was amputated.
Today there's not a standing stone,
Of what was once your humble home.

In Haslingden's Satanic mills,
You entered young to learn the skills,
When nine years old, twelve hours a day,
Was what you toiled for little pay,
Then two years later, you were maimed,
Lost your arm, but no one blamed.

You'd then to start a new career,
With nothing much to give you cheer,
Your right arm gone! A life ahead,
Some would wish that they were dead.
But you were of a different mould,
Upright! Sturdy! Thoughtful! Bold.

You found yourself a new vocation,
Gave yourself an education,
To fit yourself in future life,
To overcome your country's strife,
You set to work, now with your brain,
Your country's freedom for to gain.

The Mechanics' Institute was the place,
For knowledge, Mike, you made a base,
Though now a hazy memory,
It's now the town's free Library.
The Wesleyan School, another spot,
Where education, Mike, you got.

The Wesleyands helped you quite a lot,
Something which you ne'er forgot;
Although a stranger in their midst,
To help you, Mike they did insist,
And right up to your dying days,
For them you'd nought but fulsome praise.

Master Poskett taught you maths,
Towed you through some "brainy paths",
And with John Dean, the Textile boss,
Both took to heart the arm you'd lost,
The work they did to help you through
you thanked them both, your whole life through.

The Cockcrofts, too, could always claim,
They helped establish Davitt's fame,
They gave a start to his career,
That helped to give him work and cheer,
In Regent Street the place still stands,
Where Davitt worked with but one hand.

As time went by and you grew older,
The knowledge gained made you much bolder,
Joined the Fenians, arms in hand,
Thought by force you'd take the land,
You started out to raise the funds,
In order you could purchase guns.

In Fenian ranks, with arms in hand,
You organised your gallant band,
When Murphy rioters stored the town,
Intent to pull your new Church down,
With limited force at your command,
You beat them off! The Church still standsw.

At length the Law caught up with you,
Around your neck the net it drew,
Arrested! Tried! and sent to jail,
No plea for mercy would prevail,
But it opened up a Chapter new,
Your past and future to review.

The years in jail you were confined,
They helped you there to change your mind,
Things the Fenians did erratic,
Taught you they'd to alter tactics,
So you thought out a better strategy,
And also, too, a wiser policy.

Of Dartmoor's jail's adversity,
You made a "University",
Wrote your books, the future planned;
That lit a spark the future fanned,
The wardens tried to break your spirit,
But through the test you came with credit.

At length outside the prison door,
You were released and free once more,
You forged ahead with what you'd planned.
To lower rents and claim the land,
So to this end, the League you built,
Which made the landlords bend and wilt.

The Land league Michael, your brainchild,
From many sources was reviled,
You laboured hard to give it birth,
Its message went all o'er the earth,
But in the end you won the day,
Which left the Landlords in dismay.

Scores of thousands at your meetings,
Bonfires lit to give you greetings,
Rallying to your gallant fight,
To try and put grave wrongs to right,
It took long years the fight to win,
From Landlords' grip, the land to win.

County Mayo was the spot,
The place you chose, to stop the rot,
No more talk about defeat!
Force the Landlords to retreat!
"Lower Rents" and "No Evictions".
These main tasks were your predictions.

Irishtown first struck the blow,
Which let the tyrant Landlords know,
Without reductions in their rent,
No longer would you be content,
Then quickly twenty-five per cent,
Was soon deduced from the rents.

It spread just like a Prairie fire,
Caught the peasants up entire,
Slogans touching land and rent -
Tenants knew what these words meant,
They backed the League with great devotion,
And stirred the deepest Class emotions.

The tenants rallied to the fray,
Backed you up, Mike, come what may,
Onward to their cherished goal,
When the Land would be for all,
Taken from the Landlords' grip.
Never more to let it slip.

It's now one hundred years ago,
The Land Leagued started in Mayo,
The year was Eighteen Seventy Nine,
For Irishmen, a shocking time,
Hunger rages throughout the land,
Evictions rife on every hand.

The Famine years had ta’en their toll,
Eaten deep in flesh and soul.
Emigrant ships absorbed the best,
Naught but anger for the rest.
Death for most, without a choice.
At last!  You dared to raise your voice.

Landlordism was the curse;
It pilfered every Tenant’s purse.
Potatoes were their only diet:
It’s failure made the people riot.
But when the praities caught the blight,
The outlook was as black as night.

By their thousands they did die,
To weak to pray to God on high,
Murdered by the poisoned crop,
By the roadside they would drop –
Died like rats out in the cold,
None to “Wake” them, as of old.

Hundreds thrown in common graves,
Not a chance their souls to save,
Thrown in pits, without a coffin,
Not a shroud to wrap them up in.
Swinford Workhouse was the place
Where scenes like this were commonplace

At any home which face eviction,
You’d be there, Mike, from conviction.
Bailiffs went from town to town,
Burning peasants’ homesteads down.
Tenants in arrears of rent
To starve or emigrate were sent.

That cruel Bailiff, Captain Boycott,
The biggest villain of the lot,
His hated name became a catchword,
The Land League’s future catchword;
So now we’ll see just how the name
Boycotting got its ugly fame.

The Boycott tactic, once begun,
Soon got the Bailiffs on the run.
Rents were lowered left and right
As thousands joined the Boycott fight.
At last they drove him from his ground,
Without a friend for miles around.

None would work on his demesne,
Not a soul his shoes would clean.
No one sold him meat or bread:
Not a maid to make his bed,
Not a a man to milk his herd,
None to speak to him a word,

Nothing sold to him from shops,
None to Harvest Home his crops:
A complete boycott was the plan,
On everything they placed a ban.
Everybody joined the fray
And drove the Bailiff’s guards away.

Evictions, too, were partly stopped,
Rack-rents, too, had almost flopped.
From strength to strength the League marched on,
With hopes to see the Landlords gone,
Visions of the coming day,
When Irish Tenants had their way.

The Land League was the weapon used,
For which you often faced abuse;
You fought the Landlord – Tenant fight,
And stood for British Workers’ rights.
Of all the Patriots long since gone
You were a most outstanding one.

In Haslingden, where you were reared,
Without a doubt, you’re still revered.
When still quite young, you fought the fight
For all just causes you thought right.
In Haslingden, of George Street fame,
We’ve still our branch, which bears your name.

Across the street where you once lived,
Each year a Vigil there is kept.
Standing around your honoured plaque
Brings to us old memories back.
Then, as to you our hats we raise,
We think of you, and former days.

So now you rest in peace in Straide.
Landlords now are not afraid:
They’ve passed away without a tear,
But on their names they’ve left a smear,
Whilst you have left a glorious name:
The Land League fight ensured your name.

With many a bygone memory,
We salute the League Centenary.
In Haslingden, we sure are proud
As Davitt’s praise we sing aloud,
With branches in each continent,
The Land League stands your monument.

So let us now the future view,
What it holds for me and you.
Does it look as black as night?
Or does it paint a picture bright?
Could we mould it for the best?
If so, let’s put it to the test.

Let’s take a page from Davitt’s book,
And start a chapter new,
To rid our land from all its strife,
And start a life anew.
Remove our country’s bloody stain,
And live like humans once again.

So be like him, an optimist –
He never was a pessimist.
Lead us from this Purgat’ry
To a new Fraternity,
Where we’ll live as friends once more,
And shake the hands of those next door.

If every son in Erin’s Isle
Had such a heart as he,
They’d rouse the Nation’s rank and file
To set our country free.

Then North and South, and East and West,
Could live in peace, be happy blest,
Uniting Orange with the Green:
‘Twould be for all a happy scene;
Then both religions could unite,
And prove to all that Right is Might.

The time is long since overdue
To  make this dream of ours come true,
To help our brothers in their plight,
To rid our country of its blight,
To put an end to shedding blood,
To end the fears so long we’ve stood.

 Let Ulster, Munster, Leinster, Connacht,
Get together with one thought,
Swear an oath, if once decided,
Never more to be divided.
Then at last we can agree
To dump the bombs deep in the sea,

Stand as Workers, not as Races:
To Orange bigots, give no graces,
Send the Provos back to school,
Let them know how they’ve been fooled,
Give their kiddies education
To build a peaceful generation.

So, onward to a common goal,
Jobs and houses free for all,
When Falls and Shanklin Roads again
Forget the names that brought them shame;
Then Cork and Belfast, Dublin, Derry,
Never more they need to worry.

                               Jim Garnett 1979

             Jim Garnett, a local historian and member of this Club, was born in Devon and moved to Haslingden during the Boer war. He resided at 189, Blackburn Road, till his death in 1981.

His wife Bridget (Beasy), formerly Melvin, from Ballina, Co. Mayo, survived him by 12 months.