Manchester Mule Skinner
The Manchester Mule Spinner
(Mary Lee Partington)

I’ll not take you back across the wild water
I’ll not take you back to old Ireland, Kathleen
For the hills of New England are calling me over
There’s work for a spinner on whitewater streams.

Chorus: I’m sailing away on a cold English day
Where the sun strikes a shaft through the soot and the gray
Of the Manchester mills where a mule spinner’s years
Come to dust and to ash and to tears.

Old Ireland is hungry; her children are scattered
From Glasgow to London and Canada’s shore
While a whole generation of young English farmers
Have traded their land to be mill-working poor.


So marry me Katie right here by the dockside
Alike and as different as poitín and ale
We’re the stout heart of England, the spirit of Ireland
To the hills of New England heave away and set sail


Our lives will revolve round the spindles and shuttles
Our children will chase the bright thread ‘neath the frames
But there’ll come a time when young teachers and lawyers
Will fondly remember their grandparents’ names.