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Thursday, September 6, 2007
`Patrick Dowd's Song'
There’s a train of love chuggin’ round the world There’s a train of love filled with unsung heroes Some get on and off, but the train moves on Let me tell you about one who stayed aboard.
He fought for Ireland when just a youth He fought for unions and for relief He fought Jim Crow and for Angelo And when Spain, she called, he fought her foe.
He worked by day and read poems by night And when he lost his legs with his pen he did fight And from even inside his hospital bed He linked his life with the flag of red.
He spoke the truth in a world of lies Without conceit, their rule he defied No family or goods chained him down His thoughts were for the poor and those who rebelled.
For over 80 years, he fought for his cause His conscience was his guide, he received no applause His name will not appear in their history But Patrick Dowd will live in my memory.
Yes, there’s a train of love chuggin’ round the world There’s a train of love filled with unsung heroes Some get on and off, but the train moves on Let me tell you about a man named Patrick Dowd.
I first met Patrick Dowd when he was living in a nursing home near Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn in the late 1970s. A few years after his 70th birthday, Mr. Dowd was the victim of a hit-and-run accident while he was crossing the street in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, both his legs had to be amputated, and he was placed in the nursing home.
After another Irish solidarity activist and I noticed a letter to the editor by Mr. Dowd which appeared in one of the Irish-American weekly newspapers in New York City, we started to visit Mr. Dowd in the nursing home and talked a lot with him. And we were both inspired by the way Mr. Dowd’s passionate interest in the cause of freedom in Ireland and elsewhere continued until his death, at the age of 82, during the 1980s.
Mr. Dowd had no possessions at the time of his death and no family members or friends of his own generation were still alive to be around him when he died. And no obituary of Mr. Dowd appeared, of course, in any newspaper. But his life and death moved me emotionally. So the Patrick Dowd’s Song protest folk song came to be written shortly after Mr. Dowd’s death.
(To listen to Patrick Dowd's Song, click on either of the following links: