Another of Marion's Philly Song Series pieces, Philly’s historic Eastern State Penitentiary inspired this song. After taking a tour there, Marion learned about the Prison's only inmate to ever escape and not be recaptured - Leo Callahan. Little is known about Callahan and nothing is known about him after his getaway over the 30 foot tall prison walls, so Marion's song imagines the 'real' story behind his life- she also hoped for an optimistic outcome. The Gaelic phrase in the chorus means essentially 'God's blessing on your journey'. Funny postscript: the archivist at the Penitentiary heard a recording of Marion's song (after the Molly Bloom's performed it on WXPN Folk Show) and wrote a blog about it. While the archivist liked the song, she indicated that most historians believe the 'real' story behind Callahan's not being recaptured was that he was murdered shortly after his getaway. Go to this website for more information on ESP and their famous escapee - https://www.easternstate.org/notable-inmates.
By Marion Halliday 2014 - All rights reserved
V1- He came to this land ten years of age, by fourteen an orphan making his way. On the dusty streets of Philadelph-y- i-a, that boy became a man. He loved pretty Mary and she bore him a child. His life it seemed pretty good for a while. Telling tales of Ireland at night by the fire, they’d sing to their son.
CHO: Slan agus beannacht leat, Fly away Callahan, fly away home (2x)
V 2- Spanish flu took Mary and their wee baby son, Then he lost his job on the docks as a long shore-man. By 1922 he’d hit rock bottom- times they were hard. He took to drinking whisky, playing cards, pickin’ fights, He finally picked the wrong one late one winter’s night, Left a man dead on the street, no one to blame, but poor Callahan.
V 3- Callahan was sentenced to Eastern State Penn, A place where no man had escaped from within. In a prison bound by thirty feet of stone, a man could still dream. He built himself a ladder and climbed to the other side, Ran into the dark of night and found a place to hide. Coppers never caught him but swore they heard him cry, he’d find a way home.
BREAK: When dreams are dashed and ground into dust, The man that lives on will do what he must. Build a ladder, scale a wall, dream a new dream - Find a way home
V 4- Not every traveler to this land came here to stay, Some would return to their homeland one day. The say in 1924 in the County Clare, a man named Callahan returned to live among them, bought a farm and prospered well. Raised a family of his own and to them he would tell, tales of America and Eastern State Penn, and finding a way home.