Poems and Songs

Only two of Francis MacNamara's poems were published in his lifetime. One was a farewell epigram at his trial in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1832. The second was the much longer  A Dialogue between two Hibernians in Botany Bay, published in the Sydney Gazette February 1840 when the poet was languishing in Parramatta Gaol.

Convict Road Gang
Verse attributed and likely:

Labouring With The Hoe

The Day I Will Be Free (1835)

A Convict's Tour To Hell (1839)

A Petition from the A.A. Co. Flocks at Peel River - In behalf of the Irish Bard (1839)

A Petition from the Chain Gang at Newcastle (1839)

For the Company Underground (1839)

A Dialogue between two Hibernians in Botany Bay (1840)

Seizure of the Cyprus Brig in Recherche Bay

Cyprus Brig (Jack Davies recording)

The Convict's Arrival aka The Convict's Lament on the Death of Captain Logan

Moreton Bay (Simon McDonald recording)

                                                      Verse attributed but unlikely:

The Poor Exile from the Shamrock Shore

Bold Jack Donohoe

Travellers Welcome

The Ballad of Martin Cash

Jim Jones at Botany Bay

Tambaroora Gold (Harry Peckman?)

The Cypress

Verse the poet wrote out by hand for commission:

Man Was Made to Mourn (Robert Burns)


Though these songs and poems have been attributed to Francis MacNamara we can never be sure that they are his work as most of them were collected and published years after composition and taken down from fellow prisoners who remembered them by collectors who were happy to make adjustments and additions before publishing them. Some suggest that as there were a number of Francis MacNamara's there may have been a number of Frank the Poets. However as this website shows there is a continuing interest in most of these compositions and they do seem to share a lot in common.
Man Was Made to Mourn is Robert Burns', but MacNamara knew it well enough to apply his calligraphy skills to be asked to make a copy of it.

Jim Jones at Botany Bay was published without attribution or any information about when it was written. It has never turned up in any broadside ballad collection and MacNamara was arrested with a fellow "bushranger" called John Jones in 1842

From Trimingham manuscript 1839 (possibly MacNamara's hand writing) Courtesy NSW State Library