“Brakeman on the Train”


(O')Shaughnessy takes a job as brakeman. He doesn't know the signal to stop the train. The train is derailed though no one is killed. They tell him to throw a switch; the train goes in the ditch. He gets the blame. And it's a hard, cold, dirty job.

Supplemental text

Brakeman on the Train
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From MacEdward Leach, Folk Ballads & Songs of the Lower Labrador Coast,
#99, pp. 250-251. "Sung by Ned Odell, Pinware, July 1960."

My name is Michael Shaunessy; a story I will tell to ye;
I live down by sction three; I'm a decent Irish man.
One day the conductor said to me, "O'Shaunessy, wouldn't you like to be,
O'Shaunessy, wouldn't you like to be a brakeman on the train?"

(4 additional stanzas)


I assume this is the same person as the "Noble B. Brown" featured on other LC recordings. Again, I have no idea which spelling is correct. - PJS


  • Nobel B. Brown, "Oh, I'm a Jolly Irishman Winding on the Train" (AFS 8473 A2, 1946; on LC61)


  1. Leach-Labrador 99, "Brakeman on the Train" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Randolph 510, "Twisting on the Train" (1 text)
  3. Dean, pp. 16-17, "O'Shaughanesey" (1 text)
  4. ST LLab099 (Partial)
  5. Roud #8587
  6. BI, LLab099


Alternate titles: “O'Shaughnessy”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1922 (Dean)
Found in: Canada(Newf) US(MW.So)