> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > The Kelly Gang

The Kelly Gang

[ Roud 22593 ; AFS 52a ; trad.]

A.L. Lloyd sang his ballad about the best known Australian bushranger on his album First Person. He was accompanied by Alf Edwards on concertina and Dave Swarbrick playing fiddle. The track was reissued in 1994 on the Australian CD The Old Bush Songs. Lloyd commented in the album's sleeve notes:

On Saturdat October 26, 1878, four mounted troopers under Sgt Kennedy rode out to arrest Ned Kelly and his gang on Stringybark Creek in the Wombat Ranges of Victoria, but the Kellys outwitted the police and shot three of them dead including the bold sergeant. Shortly after, with the district swarming with vengeful police, the bushrangers held up the town of Euroa and robbed the bank of £2,000. They crossed the Murray River into New South Wales and, dressed in captured policeman's clothes, they stuck up the township of Jerilderie, robbed another bank of £2,000 and (some say) declared a holiday for the school children in honour of their visit. Ned Kelly addressed a couple of public meetings, setting out the gang's grievances, and left at the local newspaper office a long defiant statement, the famous “Jerilderie letter” that has been described as “one of the most powerful and extraordinary of Australian historical documents.” For nearly two years more the Kelly gang led the police a lively dance till after the spectacular gun battle at Glenrowan, Ned Kelly was taken, tried and hanged in October 1880. Our ballad was presumably made up at some time within those two years. A much longer version appeared in “Bill Bowyang's” Old Bush Recitations.

The melody is familiar in Ireland as Mary from Murroo, but in New South Wales it is sometimes called The Cherry Tree.

Compare this to Trevor Lucas' song The Ballad of Ned Kelly sung by him on Fotheringay.

Lyrics

A.L. Lloyd sings The Kelly Gang

Come all you sons of liberty the news is going round
That on the bold Ned Kelly's head they've set a thousand pound.
For Steve Hart and Dan Kelly five hundred they will give
But if the sum was doubled I'm sure the Kelly boys would live.

It was in November Seventy Nine the Kelly boys came down,
After shooting Sergeant Kennedy they rode into Euroa town
To rob the bank of all its gold was their idea that day,
Blood horses they was mounted on to make their getaway.

Ned Kelly walked into the bank, a pistol in his hand.
“Hand over all the money now, ten thousand pound on demand,
Likewise the ammunition,” the bold Ned Kelly said,
“And get on the go and dont be slow or I'll shoot youse through the head.”

An Afghan hawker they captured next as everybody knows,
He come in handy to the gang by fitting them out with clothes.
And of their worn out rags, me boys, they made a few bonfires
And then destroyed the telegraph by cutting down the wires.

They raced into Jerilderie town about twelve o'clock at night,
They caught the troopers in their beds and gave them a hell of a fright.
They held them up at pistol point and I'm ashamed to tell,
They marched them along in their nightshirts and they locked them in a cell.

Next morning dressed in troopers clothes, still owners of the ground,
They took their horses to the forge and had them shod free all round
And led them back and mounted and their plans worked out so well
They strolled along the main street and stuck up the Royal Hotel.

Next morning dressed in troopers clothes, still owners of the ground,
They took their horses to the forge and had them shod free all round
They led them back and mounted and their plans worked out so well
They strolled along the main street and stuck up the Royal Hotel.

Their robbing over the mounted then and made a quick retreat,
They swept away with all their loot along down Morgan's old beat
And where they are now, well I don't know, if I did I wouldn't tell.
So now until I hear from them I bid youse all fairwell.

Acknowledgements

Lyrics copied from Mark Gregory's Australian Folk Songs and adapted to the actual singing of A.L. Lloyd.