#02876
There Were Roses (Masterless Men) video
#1346: YouTube video by LithiumJasper
©2009 ~ Used with permission ~

My song for you this evening,
it's not to make you sad,
Or for adding to the sorrow
of this troubled northern land;
And lately I've been thinking
and it just won't leave my mind,
I'll tell you of two friends one time
who were both good friends of mine.

Allan Bell from Banagh,
he lived just across the fields,
The grateful man for the music,
the dancin' and the reels;
O'Malley came from South Armagh
to court young Alice fair,
We'd often meet on the Ryan Road
and the laughter filled the air.

There were roses, roses; there were roses;
And the tears of the people ran together.

Now, Allan he was Protestant,
Sean was Catholic born,
It never made a difference
for the friendship it was strong;
Sometimes in the evening
when we heard the sound of guns,
We said it won't divide us,
we will always be as one.

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

There were roses, roses; there were roses;
And the tears of the people ran together.

Well, it was on a Sunday morning
when the awful news came 'round,
Another killing had been done
just outside Newry Town;
We knew that Allan danced up there,
we knew he liked the band,
But when we heard that he was dead
we just couldn't understand.

We gathered at his graveside
on a cold, rainy day,
The minster he closed his eyes
and for no revenge he prayed;
But those of us who knew him
from along the Ryan Road,
We bowed our heads and we said a prayer
for the resting of his soul.

There were roses, roses; there were roses;
And the tears of the people ran together.

Now fear it filled the countryside,
there was fear in every home,
When the car of death came prowling
'round the lonely Ryan Road;
A Catholic would be killed tonight
to even up the score,
Oh, Christ! It's young O'Malley
they've taken from the door.

"Allan was my friend," he cried,
and he begged them with his fear,
But centuries of hatred
have ears that cannot hear;
An eye for an eye was all
that filled their minds,
And another eye for another eye
until everyone was blind.

And there were roses, roses; there were roses;
And the tears of the people ran together.

My song for you this evening
'twas not to make you sad,
Or to add to any sorrow
in this troubled northern land;
But lately I've been thinking
and it just won't leave my mind,
I'll tell you of two friends one time
who were both good friends of mine.

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 who die,
It's Bell and O'Malley
and the likes of you and I.

There were roses, roses; there were roses;
And the tears of the people ran together.

####.... Tommy Sands [b.1945] in Mayobridge, County Down, Northern Ireland. It took Sands almost ten years to write this song because he had been so close to the events ....####
The original of this song was recorded by Tommy Sands (Singing Of The Times, trk#1, 1985, Spring SCD 1015/ Green Linnet Records, Nashville, Tennessee).

This variant arranged and recorded by the Masterless Men (Ode To Age, trk#8, 1993, Landwash Distribution Company, Ltd, produced by Jim Fidler and recorded at Piper Stock Productions, Torbay, NL).


See more songs by the Masterless Men.

Tommy Sands changed the names of the victims in his original ballad because of objections by the families of the slain men. The following entries are excerpted from Lost Lives: The Stories of the Men, Women and Children Who Died Through the Northern Ireland Troubles by David McKittrick, Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh, Scotland:
[1999:]

p.896. July 9, 1973: Isaac Scott, Armagh. Civilian, Protestant, 41, single.
A former member of the UDR, he was shot by the IRA at Belleek near Newtownhamilton as he started his car after leaving Tully's, the village pub. Another man was seriously injured in the shooting. The gun attack happened just after midnight. Isaac Scott and a woman having just got into his car when shots were fired through the windscreen, killing him instantly. It emerged sometime after his death that Isaac Scott, who came from Mayobridge, was a former member of 3 UDR in County Down. His woman companion told the inquest she did not know if anyone in the bar knew he had been in the UDR or that he was a Protestant. The following month a Catholic man, Charles J McDonnell, was shot dead nearby in an apparent reprisal.

p.924. August 22, 1973: Charles J McDonnell, Down. Civilian, Catholic, 20, single.
From Carrowmannon, Belleek, he was shot in the head and chest after being abducted by armed and masked UDA/UFF men from outside his fiancée's home. The couple were sitting in a car when the gang ordered him out, drove him a short distance away, then shot him 11 times from close range. As the gunmen took him away they told his fiancée, "This is for Isaac Scott." The shooting took place not far from the Mayobridge home of Isaac Scott, who had been shot dead the previous month. Charles McDonnell's 18-year-old fiancée gave evidence at the inquest. She said: "We went to bingo and had just got home at 11.30 p.m. We were sitting talking about the wedding next year when a car drew up behind us. We didn't take any notice of it because I thought it was my brother coming home. Suddenly the door burst open and the gunmen, wearing masks, ordered Charles out. They told me to go inside and the last I saw of Charles was when they bundled him into the back seat of the car. He didn't do anybody any harm - what am I going to do without him?" A man calling himself 'Captain Black of the UFF' called a Belfast newspaper and accepted responsibility for the McDonnell murder. A detective told the inquest no one had been charged with the killing.



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