MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
The Mines of Avondale
John M. Curtis NFLD 2 Tape 5 Track 3
Trepassey Audio:

LEACH: All right all you do is sing... just sing
CURTIS: 'Tis an old time song you know
CURTIS: (Sings)

Ye people all both great and small l pray ye will attend
And listen unto those few lines which l have lately penned
To hear my lamentation would cause you to grieve and wail,
It’s about this awful occasion cave-in in the mines of Avondale

It happened in eighteen hundred eighteen and sixty-nine
Them miners all they got a call for to work in the mine
But little did they ever think that death were going to steal
Their lives away without delay in the mines of Avondale

To see the father and the son how they were filled with joy
To see the men all going to work and likewise every boy
That dismal sight in broad daylight which made their cheeks turn pale
To see them __________ o'er the mines of Avondale

A consultation then was held to see who'd volunteer
To enter in that open shaft to free their comrades dear
Two Welshmen bold without delay their courage did not fail
To enter in that awful shaft in the mines of Avondale

Twas down to the bottom they did go they were in great dismay
One got smothered for the want of air the other did remain
He gave em a sign for to pull him up for to tell the awful tale
That all were lost forever in the mines of Avondale

The next two that did go down of them they ______ good ________
And every opportunity they sent them down fresh air
To see the father and the son twas _______ so pale
Oh wasn't that a _________ sight in the mines of Avondale

Now to conclude and finish the number I’ll pen down
One hundred and ten brave stout young men were buried underground
They're in their graves for their last days their widows to weep and wail
The Orphans cries will raise the skies through the mines of Avondale

Women’s voice: That’s a real old _______.


Sources: Laws G6; Greenleaf, 1968: 123; Leach, 1965: 266; Friedman, 307; Lomax, 64; Darling, 215-218, Roud #698

From the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) Song Index and Song Annotation Collection: Goldstein, Kenneth S. and A. O'Hara and Gerald Thomas and H. Rowlings MUNFLA 78-239

History: This ballad is about a catastrophe that occurred in the Mine of Avondale, situated in Pennsylvania, on the morning of September 6th, 1869.   A ventilating furnace set fire to the woodwork in the mine shaft trapping miners in the chambers of the mine.   It took two days to reach the entombed men.   Andrew Roy, state inspector of mines of Ohio states, "Fathers and sons were found clasped in each other's arms; some of the dead were kneeling, as if in the attitude of prayer" (The Coal Mines, 1876).   One hundred and ten men lost their lives in the fire.  

Text: Tells the story of the men's lives that were lost at the mines of Avondale.

Tune: A classic arch-shaped ABBA form with the conventional higher range in the 'b' phrases. The tonality is probably major but the seventh and third degrees of the scale are sometime ambiguous in this performance.   The tune is in 4/4 time which is sometimes stretched to better narrate the text.   The melody is characterized by many melismatic passing tones.

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