Two Nations

My name’s James Michael Ryan and in Southie I was born.
Named after that great man who once made Boston town his own.
My father came from Kerry and my mother from Mayo,
And I longed to see the land they left so many years ago.

My father always told me that he’d take me there some day,
But I was only seventeen on the night he passed away.
He took one bullet in the leg and another in the jaw,
Killed in the line of duty, in the service of the law.

He always said I should be proud to be an Irishman,
That I should never be put down by any other man.
And in his will he set aside some money, just for me,
To travel back to Ireland when I would reach eighteen.

I read every Irish book I found as my excitement grew.
I read about 1916 and the treaty in ’22.
When the plane touched down on Irish soil, I said a silent prayer
And I thought about my father and I wished that he was there.

Those first few days In Kerry they were like a dream come true.
I’d never seen fields so green or even skies so blue.
My cousins made me welcome and they took me all around
And we laughed about our accents and the funny way we sound.

Then one evening in a pub where we’d been drinking all the day,
Somebody asked me what I thought about the IRA.
I said that 1922 was when it all began,
When Collins signed the treaty that divided up the land.

Then someone said that I’d some nerve to say a thing like that.
And what the hell would I know, I was just a Yankee brat.
I told him I was Irish and as good a man as he.
I’d a right to my opinion and that he need not agree.

For a moment there was silence, then a glass fell to the floor.
Then someone shouted “Bloody Yank” as he pushed me out the door.
Now I’m not sure what happened next, I was in a blinding rage,
But I left him in a pool of blood when the crowd pulled me away.

My cousins said next morning, that it wasn’t wise to stay.
And if that other man should die, I’d be surely sent to jail.
So, against my will, they put me on the first plane going home,
For to run away is something that I’d never done before.

Now, I’m a cop in Boston like my father was before.
Like him, I don’t think I’ll be back in Ireland anymore.
But there’s two great Irish nations though, 3000 miles they span
And though I’m across the ocean I am still an Irishman.

Love of the Land – Green Linnet, GLCD 1097
Words and Music by Robbie O’Connell © 1987
Slievenamon Music (BMI)