The Schoolboy Strike


Come listen now how long ago we heeded labour’s call

Though we were only schoolboys then and living in East Wall

Our classes were full to the brim the roof it let in rain

And the masters they were skilful in the waving of the cane


Now the books we badly needed we could ne’er afford to buy

So we gathered near the Seabank house and ‘action’ was the cry

We planned to put a picket on the school that very morn’

Our message it was loud and clear the blacklegs for to warn


In chalk upon the door we wrote in no uncertain terms

That all should follow our command or be treated worse than germs

Children caught, spelt ‘C.O.T.’ must be prepared to die

As example to blacklegs and scabs, ‘That’s telling them’ says I


T was early in the morning we presented our demands

Shorter hours, cheaper books, less caning of the hands

Our pickets they were duly manned by the biggest in the class

Stationed so as not to let a single chiseller pass


Despite their noble efforts and great strategic care

Some ‘breakers made it into school with the masters waiting there

Inspired by the Union men and Big Jim’s fiery talks

We decided for to pelt the scabs with mouldy cabbage stalks


Three days long we stood our ground and word like wildfire spread

The paper men who came around wrote down the things we said

Calmly and most orderly we laid out our demands

Convincing them that we were not some rabble urchin band


Our knowledge of human rights and scholarly aims was clear

We’d head them all at home of course a thousand times or more

We quoted them from our Big Jem and from James Connolly

When they said we should be standing up instead of on our knees


Three days long that fight went on but then our strength did flag

Though none of our demands were met inspectors need not brag

Our leaders they were called upon to take their punishment

With honour these your schoolboys paid the price of their dissent


So that is how we organised and answered labour’s call

Thought we were only schoolboys then in the old East Wall

We stood up to the parish priest and to the masters’ might

To fight for justice in the class and for every schoolboys rights


How very soon these young lads grew to be hard working men

How brave and strong these chaps would prove when called upon again

In the Lockout or the Rising or some trench on the front line

They stood as brave as in the days on East Wall’s picket line