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KEENAN FAMILY in Australia



Last updated 18/9/2012



On this page I hope to publish extracts from my copy of a 1928 book by R. M. Sibbett titled "On the Shining Bann - Records of an Ulster Manor"  (ISBN 1-873401-04-3 & ISBN 1-873345-05-4).  This book has an enormous amount of detail about events and families in and around Portglenone.  The second, and  last, reprint of the book was done in 1991 by Braid Books & Moyola Books.  Unfortunately the poor quality of the material used means that the print in my copy is fading fast.  Those interested in the book might be able to obtain a rare copy on the internet at Amazon or Ebay. A Google search for  "On the Shining Bann"  returns about 1,500 links, although many of these are duplications. The book is 207 pages. A separate 24 page index was compiled by Terence Nelson and published in 1992.  It is an important aid to finding references in the main book to certain names and places.  IMPORTANT NOTE 18/9/2012: Thankfully Mr Sibbett's book is now (August 2012) available on CD in .pdf format, from the North of Ireland Family History Society (www.nifhs.org/publications.htmThe NIFHS describes the book as "A history of the manor of Cashel (the area around Portglenone, County Antrim), based on a Grand Jury Book dated 1769 to 1828 giving a great deal of information about the local families and ones who emigrated overseas.  Illustrations and photographs are included and the text is in searchable PDF format."


"Johnstone's Farewell"

I chose this as my first extract because the song was written by a person leaving the Portglenone area of Northern Ireland  to travel to Australia, and in particular to Melbourne (which is where I live).  It appears from Mr Sibbet's remarks that the person left in the early 1800s ("Early in the past century").




Comments on this song from the author of "On the Shining Bann", R. M. Sibbett, in 1928 (page 94):


 "Early in the past century one of (the members of the Johnstone family), on going to Australia, wrote a song, ever since known as "Johnstone's Farewell". 

Every Twelfth of July the local Orange Lodge marches in procession round his old home playing the air.  The sentiment of the song is so natural and expressive that not only Orangemen, but Ribbonmen, seek copies of it to place among the things they treasure on going to other lands.  There is something Burns-like in the cast of the verses as well as in the dialect employed, which still lingers, about Maboy and New Mills.  To a few old friends in that neighbourhood the writer is indebted for a copy of this song, which Robert Johnstone wrote so long ago, and which is as fresh to-day as it was when first penned   ....  This (song) goes to the tune of Burns "Farewell".  Another song by the same author entitled "Farewell to Erin" is also well known around New Mills, especially to the older generation."



"Johnstone's Farewell"

by Robert Johnstone


Adieu! Adieu! Old Ireland,

Since I am going now to roam

Away unto another clan,

So far from my dear native home.

Adieu! Adieu!  to you, New Mill;

Likewise my sporting comrades a';

My heart it will return there still,

And be with you when far awa'.


My rambling mind does now incline

Strange faces far away to see,

Perhaps I might again through time

come back to my own old country,

And if again I ne're will see

The day in Erin's Isle to da',

My bones in a foreign country

Must lie from friends then far awa'.


When I am on the ocean wide

And nought but waters round me flow,

My thoughts will back then gently glide

Unto my old sweet haunts you know,

A tear perhaps into my eye

Will oft arise, and down then fa'

My bosom too will draw a sigh,

For them so far awa'.


You County Antrim groves that lie

Along that river call the Bann,

Unto you now I bid goodbye;

I'll mind you all in a strange land,

Upon that one below Black's Hill,

Around where cock do loudly cra',

Upon that one I'm sure I will

Think many times when far awa'.


Note by Peter Keenan: Several Robert Burns' songs have the word Farewell in their title. But  I haven't found one simply called "Farewell".  Perhaps the Burns tune used in "Johnstone's Farewell" was "McPherson's Farewell" - see link HERE. But Burns also wrote "Farewell Thou stream" (to the tune "Nansie's to the greenwood gane"), "Farewell to Eliza" (to the tune "Gilderoy") "Farewell Song to the banks of Ayr" (to the tune of "Roslin Castle" ), "Farewell To Ballochmyle" (to the tune of "Miss Forbe's Farewell to Banff"  and others.





You comrade boys that do incline

The cocks to love, I bid adieu.

When Easter next it does come around

I'll then be far away from you.

Also when winter nights come on,

As round some table you will dra',

The cards to join, I will be gone

That had been there if not awa'.


Farewell unto each brother tru --

I mean ten and seventy- one;

The first alehouse that meets my view

When once I reach that far off strand,

I will there step into the same;

A glass of brandy I will ca';

McNeillstown boys their health and name

I will toast them when far awa'.


Now then, my comrades, I must give o'er

And sadly here my pen lay down;

The good ship from the Irish shore

Has sailed away for Melbourne town.

Until she lands I hope there will

A favourite gale upon her blow;

So farewell once more to New Mill;

I'll mind you still when far awa'.