Lyrics Black In The Ground

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A 'ceili' is a kind of informal dance/music party in Ireland. It's more

formalized in this country, at least in the Boston/New York/Philadelphia area, sponsored by Irish dance

schools and involving a list of set dance pieces.

Black in the Ground (written and sung by Chris Garrison)

*** This is a story about the same people who became known to history as the

"Molly McGuires".

It takes place at the time of the Irish famine in 1847 and in the years

after. Landlords in Ireland found it cheaper to pay passage to America or

Canada for Irish share-croppers living on their land then to feed them

during the famine. Many died of disease on the ships, which came to be

known as 'coffin ships', and those that made it across the Atlantic were

forced to take the lowest jobs for little pay. In the coal mining towns,

miners were paid in 'company script' which could only be redeemed for goods

at the company store, at inflated prices, thus ensuring that the miners were

not going to leave any time soon.

The culmination of the Molly McGuires came in the late 1870s when most of

their leaders were hung, accused of murdering officials of the coal companies.

'Praties' is an Irish slang (not Gaelic) for potatoes. ***

Black In The Ground:

In the Donegal hills on a poor tenant farm

My father scraped by on the strength in his arms

Till the day he came home with his head hanging down

Said the praties are poisoned, they're black in the ground

Now for two years and better we suffered in hell

No food in our bellies no possessions to sell

And no help was offered when the agent came 'round

For the landlords don't suffer from the black in the ground

Now they've booked us our passage we're sailing away

My father and mother in line on the quay

And the tears in their eyes as Donegal Bay

Was lost behind the horizon

In East Pennsylvania there was work to be done

The coal mines were paying out 10 cents a ton

And we felt ourselves lucky, good fortune we'd found

As we started in digging the black in the ground

But it's 12 hours a shift in a hole in the earth

Maybe someday they'll pay what a mans work is worth

And the dust in our lungs is all that we own

While the bosses make money from the black in the ground

I leave all my wages at the company store

And each day that passes I owe that much more

How can I work so hard and still be so poor

With no chance to ever be leavin

Maybe someday a man won't live like a slave

Won't work like a dog just to earn a days wage

And the landlords and bosses if they come around

We'll leave their damned bones to turn black in the ground


This page is dedicated not only to the Irish that suffered before and after they came to the USA, but to all the workers around the world that still suffer under poor working conditions.

Ask Wal-Mart how they get the lowest prices, out of workers in factories over seas?

Ask Home Depot

Ask Nike if a few more cents on a pair of shoes would help their workers over seas, or why they pay someone millions to wear their shoes but the workers get nothing.

These are only a few large corporations in the USA than can make a big difference in workers lives, and the excuse "we use sub-contractors" is just to avoid the question.

This is my own opinion, so you may email me at

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