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The Tunnel Tigers

[Ewan MacColl]

Ewan MacColl sang his own song The Tunnel Tigers in 1972 on his Argo album Solo Flight. The liner notes laconically stated:

Written by Ewan MacColl in 1966 for a BBC documentary film dealing with the building of the Victoria Underground Line in London.

Canterbury Fair sang The Tunnel Tigers on their eponymous 1977 album Canterbury Fair. They noted:

This song was written by Ewan MacColl for a B.B.C. documentary film The Irishmen, and can be found in the Oak Publication's song book I'm a Freeborn Man, featuring songs by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger. For so many years the lot of the Irish labourer has been to come to England to seek work, and this very powerful, yet touching song gives expression to how so many must have felt about the experience.

The Fagans sang The Tunnel Tigers in 2002 on their CD Turning Fine.

Lyrics

Canterbury Fair sing The Tunnel Tigers

Hares run free on the Wicklow mountains,
Wild geese fly and foxes play;
Sporting Wicklow boys are working,
Driving a tunnel through the London clay.

Chorus (after each verse):
Up with the shield and jack it! Ram it!
Driving a tunnel through the London clay.

Below Armagh the wild ducks breeding,
Wild fowl gather on Lough Rea,
The sporting boys of Longford County
Driving a tunnel through the London clay.

The Lough Derg trout grow fat and lazy,
Salmon sport in Cushla bay;
Fishermen of Connemara
Driving a tunnel through the London clay.

The curragh rots on Achill Island,
Tourists walk on the Newport quay;
Mayo boys have all gone roving,
Driving a tunnel through the London clay.

The Carlow girls are fine and handsome,
All decked out so neat and gay;
Carlow boys don't come to court 'em
Driving a tunnel through the London clay.

Down in the dark are the tunnel tigers,
Far from the sun and the light of day;
Down in the land that the sea once buried,
Driving a tunnel through the London clay.