Provinces of Ireland Sam Thompson's
twelve noddin' ducks
shuffled their feet
to true-blue tunes

the houses rotted

the men drank porter
in sawdust bars
while the women wove linen
to grace New England's tables

the railways died

the men shovelled salt
on winter relief
while the women stitched shirts
to fill old England's pockets

the factories folded

the men gathered bricks
in gas-filled streets
while the women banged lids
to cheer young England's corpses

Sam Thompson's
ten noddin' ducks
shuffled their feet
to true-blue tunes


I was present at an election meeting of the Northern Ireland Labour Party in the '60s (in the Boulevard Hotel, Newry - long since destroyed by PIRA) when the candidate, Sam Thompson - the Belfast playwright - called the twelve Unionist MPs at Westminster 'twelve noddin' ducks', because of their automatic support of British Conservative Party proposals at Westminster. Sam wasn't elected (surprise!). The song extract honours James Connolly, the Irish labour leader.

Click for Music