Denis Kelly’s donkey, recitation

Colm Toland, recitation in English
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Composed by Judge Louis Welsh

It’s of a well-bred donkey once lived in Donegal
In the parish of Clonmany well known to one and all
Its master’s name was Kelly a decent man and true
Until the law compelled him his ass he would not shoe

This ass came from the Illies where the poteen it was rife
And there to its maturity it had lived a blame less life
Many’s a heavy load of turf it carried its masters from the moss
It carted to Buncrana and likewise Clonmany cross

It next went to the Isle of Doagh bought by a widow man
Where it procured a taste for wash before the poteen ran
But the Isle of Doagh went dry at last and the donkey reformed too
And from that day it never would taste a drop of the mountain dew

It was seen by Denis Kelly at the Carndonagh fair
He so much admired its taste with aristocratic air
And for his farm in Cleagh town he priced it so far
That the bargain was completed in Pat Cole’s famous bar

Now all this time I’ve mentioned the donkey was unshod
He carted turf for Kelly all over the green sod
Till one day Sergeant Murphy met the donkey on the road
Escorted by its master beneath a heavy load

Hold on hold on the Sergeant cries with a voice both loud and clear
Struck terror into Kelly’s heart and made him quake with fear
Don’t you know declared the Sergeant you’re a criminal most vile
You have broken the Constitution that governs our green isle

By Victoria’s gracious law that is a Free State act
By the virtue of the treaty and the Coal and Cattle Pact
All donkeys they must have their shoes as well as you and me
Or else their owner will be jailed for shameless cruelty

Hold on cried Kelly your statement I’ll deny
I’ll write to DeVelera and ask the reason why
This law it was enacted to me it seems not meet
The donkeys should have their shoes while wains go on bare feet

You and I were both men big before we wore a shoe
We courted girls too unshod you can’t deny it’s true
Then answered Sergeant Murphy that must be long ago
We’ve pictures in Carndonagh and wireless in the Isle of Doagh

The maids all wear silk stockings and smoke what they call fags
And donkeys too must have their shoes and wains may go in rags
But at any rate bold Kelly you’ve got far too much to say
And for your cheek to Carn you’ll march upon the next law day

I don’t know what the justice will say but if it was in Dungloe
Where donkeys are protected it’s to jail you’d surely go
In Carndonagh court Justice Welsh did sit
In robes of Irish poplin that weren’t quite a fit

The clerk called Kelly’s case at last the Sergeant he did rise
And stalked into the witness box with anger in his eyes
He says your honoured justice the crime this man did do
Was worked a poor old donkey that never wore a shoe

I stopped this work in Doochery because the justice there
With suffering hungry donkeys his last bite he would share
Then up spoke justice Welsh I’ll not be undone by any man
For I’ll look up my law books and consult my driver Dan

The judge looked up from his law books and advice did take from Dan
And in a voice like thunder he frightened every man

He says to clerk McGoldrick my black cap do prepare
For I’ll see Denis Kelly hanged on Carndonagh square
But the Sergeant’s heart with pity for poor Kelly’s fate did fill
I pray you honour justice I pray you to keep still

I wouldn’t like poor Kelly his wretched life to lose
For Guard Kavanagh now informed me that the donkey has got shoes
A message then sent on foot and soon came the report
That Kelly got the donkey shod the day before the court

So at the Sergeants plea the hanging it was stayed
And Kelly back to Cleagh marched as blithesome as a maid
Now the donkey it is shod as well as any man
And every time it brays it says God bless you Sergeant Sean