Electoral canvassing of old

The smutty and libellous doggerel quoted below, and widely published at the time, demonstrates the extent to which the ‘establishment’ would go in 1832 to blacken the emerging Catholic political class.

As a rough guide, the North end of Newry had fallen to the Hills of Hillsborough, who when elevated to the peerage became Downshires (Downshire Road etc) : the South and South Down to the Needhams who became Kilmorey. Newry had two seats in the Imperial Government (the House of Commons). The landlords sat in the Lords. They named agents who took the seats for them in the lower house, Knox being the man in this case.

The naming of individuals in libellous comment demonstrates the contempt in which these agents held their opposition, and the confidence they could have that their libels would go unpunished.

Unfortunately for them, the monied ‘young Mr Brady’ came back a few short years later and took the seat for the Catholics of Newry [1835].


Electors of Newry I pray you give ear

A story I’ll tell you that you quickly shall hear

About Kelly the Bishop and Keenan the Friar

Who splutter and spout about smutty Maguire

Down, down, darry down.

If a poor Ballyholland man for Knox goes to poll

Without shame or remorse they to hell send his soul

To see these vile Jesuits how they bluster and bully

If they spy a poor Papist going to join Knox’s tally

Down, down, darry down.


But I tell Mr Priests they may give up their views

Go say Aves and Paters and gather your dues

For in the Borough of Newry they never will see

A Papist sit down with his name as MP

Down, down, darry down.



As for those turncoats who have taken their part

Before many months they’ll be bitterly smart

The bribes they have got will quickly be spent

In sackcloth and ashes they’ll sorely repent

Down, down, darry down.

In a bottle of smoke their hopes will soon end

If you view but the men on whom they depend

There’s Godfrey the broker and gutty Jem Spence

The one wants good manners, the other wants sense

Down, down, darry down.


There’s little Jack Trainer and long Jacky Reid

The one sells bad whiskey, the other bad seed:

With brisk Charley Jennings who’s fond of a spunk

But, God help the poor man, he’s apt to get drunk

Down, down, darry down.


There’s white-headed Pat, that cagey old boy

Who, with a besom-man’s wife once did lovingly toy

With yellow Joe Mitchell and bandy-legged John

Who waddle like ducks, up and down through the throng

Down, down, darry down.


There’s dimple-faced Byrne with young Mr Brady

Who for his friend Dennis has got the cash ready

With music galore of brawlers and railers

A full batch of swabs and hogwash retailers

Down, down, darry down.

If these are the men who a member would make

Alas the poor idiots will find their mistake

For Kilmorey’s our landlord and Knox is our man

Our Member he’ll be – prevent it who can!

Down, down, darry down.

Then from these vile set let us quickly depart

Take hand in hand and join the good part

Huzza for brave Knox, he’s honest and true

He’ll serve his country and his friends will serve you.

Down, down, darry down.

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