Bold Jack Donahue


Come all you gallant bushrangers who gallop o’er the plains
Refuse to live in slavery, or wear the convict chains
Attention pay to what I say, and value if I do
For I will relate the matchless tale of Bold Jack Donahue.

Come all you sons of liberty and everyone besides
I’ll sing to you a story that will fill you with surprise
Concerning of a bold bushranger, Jack Donahue was his name
And he scorned to humble to the crown, bound down with iron chain

Now Donahue was taken all for a notorious crime
And sentenced to be hanged upon the gallows tree so high
But when they took him to bathurst gaol, he left them in a stew
For when they came to call the roll, they missed Jack Donahue

Now when Donahue made his escape, to the bush he went straight way
The squatters they were all afraid to travel by night and by day
And every day in the newspapers, they brought out something new
Concerning that bold bushranger they called Jack Donahue

Now one day as he was riding the mountainside alone
Not thinking that the pains of death would overtake him soon
When all he spied the horse police, well on they came up into view
And in double quick time they did advance to take Jack Donahue

‘Oh Donahue, Jack Donahue, throw down your carbine
Or do you intend to fight us all and will you not resign?’
‘Surrender to such cowardly dogs is a thing that I never would do
For this day I’ll fight with all my might’ cried Bold Jack Donahue

Now the sergeant and the corporal, their men they did divide
Some fired at him from behind and some from every side.
The sergeant and the corporal, they both fired at him, too.
And a rifle bullet pierced the heart of bold jack donahue.

Nine rounds he fired and nine men down before that fated ball
Which pierced his heart and made him smart and caused him for to fall
And as he closed his mournful eyes, he bid the world adieu
Saying ‘convicts all, pray for the soul of Bold Jack Donahue’


Dubliner Jack Donohue was convicted of a felony in 1802 and transported to Australia. He subsequently escaped and wrought havoc on the planters and police until he was ambushed and shot in 1830.
There are many variations on this ballad including ‘The Wild Colonial Boy’ which refers to Jack Duggan from Castlemaine, County Kerry.

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