Song: The Ballad of Merv Flanagan (Mortuary Station)

Lyrics by PP Cranney, music by Christina Mimmocchi (2017)

(Lyrics reproduced by permission of PP Cranney)

 I saw the casket carried shoulder-high by union men,
Then into the hearse they lowered their comrade and friend.
I saw the red-eyed children of a family torn apart.
I felt the widow’s cries of grief like daggers pierce my heart.
I heard the toll of a convent bell and the muffled beat of the drum.
I saw thousands of grieving people, oh, where had they all come from?
The procession stretched for a mile or more, from Trades Hall it made its way,
Behind the four-horse funeral hearse which led the sombre parade.


To the Mortuary Station,
to the Mortuary Station,
On the Rookwood Cemetery line.
They were taking their dead
to the railway head
In a box of polished pine.
A one-way fare is all he’ll need
On the Rookwood Cemetery line.

I overheard folks talking of a local Irish larrikin,
Grew up in dusty city lanes, a carter named Merv Flanagan.
He stood one day with strikers, watching rural volunteers
Drive by with black-banned cargo; they began to boo and jeer.
The times were tense and bitter, tinder ready for the flame.
Whoever threw the first punch, well, we’ll never know his name.
The government had given guns to strike-breakers so that they
Could defend the law and order and send strikers on their way…


A strike-breaker named Reggie Wearne from Bingara came to town
For his God, his King and Country, to keep rebellion down.
Harassed by rowdy strikers, he drew a pistol from his vest.
Flanagan leapt to save his mates; a bullet shattered his chest.
The judge declared it self-defence! Rich graziers were relieved.
‘Scum of the earth’, ‘parasite on the state’- not a thought for the bereaved.
But the thousands I saw mourning down by the Mortuary station
Were bidding farewell to a hero on the way to his last destination.