Michael Conway

Language: English

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In 1910, Solas band leader Seamus Egan's great-great uncle Michael Conway left his home in Co. Mayo, Ireland and boarded a ship for America. He was headed to the copper mines and boxing rings of Butte, Montana, aka Shamrock City (named so for the influx of Irish immigrants). Six years later, at the age of 25 and in a cloud of mystery, Michael was dead at the hands of local police.

Shamrock City as seen through the eyes of Michael, tells the story of the thousands of young men and women who left behind their homes and families for "the Richest Hill on Earth". It reveals their spirit, tenacity and humor, but also the hardships they faced: discrimination, corruption within the mining companies, an unknown and unforgiving land, a system that valued the few over the many. One hundred years later, it's their story, but the struggles of the working class and immigrants are the same. Shamrock City is for those then and now that believe in a better life, and are willing to risk it all for a chance at something more.

Mick McAuley sings song about Seamus Egan’s relative, Michael Conway, who left Ireland to seek his fortune in the Copper boom town of Butte Montana, only to be killed after he reportedly refused to throw a fight for the sheriff
Oh my name is Michael Conway, in old Ireland I was born
Near the lake of cloona colie on a bright summers morn
But soon came cruel winter to break and scatter...
Soon came the harsh day that forced me to roam

Well i reached for Phila in the brave land of the free
Where i met with my 2 brothers there was pat james and me
We were destined for the rich land that owns us all from birth
We were bound for Butte Montana, the richest hill on earth

Where their pockets all bulge
Where they trade on silver dollars on a crowded bar room floor
Where they strip the granite mountain Of her precious copper ore

Well we leaped down off that steam train and stepped out into the yellow mist
With hopes in our hearts and a fight in either fist
No kind face to lead us to where the dirty smelter spat
Twas there i took to hard labour, as a Butte mining rat

Where we trade the hours of daylight for the smell of copper ore,
Where its whiskey and the cowpat to cure our copper sores
While the half are down with labor, the other half it sleeps
Upon the granite mountain a mile high deep.

Oh they know me down in dark town, bare knuckle i would go
Not a man could best me while standing toe to toe
I defied the crooked sheriff for I wouldn’t throw his fight away
Should have laid it on at 5 to 2 and backed bold Conway

I was lifted with the beer and music flowing free
While my brothers had just left me, oh bad fortune for me
Dragged out by crooked cowards, their batons knocked me off my feet
They left me there to die there like a dog on the street

Far from the anaconda, mine of seven stacks
Far from the ashen faces of young men with crooked backs
Far from the granite mountain and the dusty grave in which i lie
My spirit chases starlings from the clear....skies

Contributed by DoNQuijote82 - 2013/9/21 - 17:39

My family came from Ireland to the copper mines in Globe, Arizona Territory. I wrote a book about the Irish in Arizona and am working with the McClelland Library at the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix researching the Irish who came to Arizona. Enjoy your album very much - especially the Michael Conway song.

Are you going to be coming to Arizona to perform anytime in the future?

Janice Ryan Bryson - 2019/4/21 - 19:53

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