Dan Croke

Dan Croke said “It’s looking crook” in the Australian bush poem “Said Hanrahan” which is a poem by Irish -Australian bush poet John O’Brien. John O’Brien was the pen-name of Catholic priest Patrick Joseph Hartigan. The bush poem was first published in July 1919 in “The Catholic Press”, appearing in 1921 in the anthology “Around the Boree Log and Other Verses”.

The poem centres around the cycle of droughts, floods and bush fires in rural Australia through the eyes of “Hanrahan”, a pessimistic Irishman. “‘We’ll all be rooned’, said Hanrahan”—an adage taken from the poem—has entered the Australian English lexicon.

John O’Brien has been spoken of as the witness to the Irish-Australian, in whom the power, energy and initiative of the youthful Australian spirit is merged with the age-old traditions of the Irish.

The Poem reads as follows


“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan, in accents most forlorn, Outside the church, ere Mass began,

  One frosty Sunday morn.


The congregation stood about, Coat-collars to the ears, and talked of stock, and crops, and drought,   as it had done for years.


“It’s lookin’ crook,” said Dan Croke; “Bedad, it’s cruke, me lad, For never since the banks went broke Has seasons been so bad.”


“It’s dry, all right,” said young O’Neil, With which astute remark. He squatted down upon his heel

 and chewed a piece of bark.”


 And so around the chorus ran “It’s keepin’ dry, no doubt.”  “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,

 “Before the year is out”.


“The crops are done; ye’ll have your work To save one bag of grain”;  From here way out to Back-o’-Bourke.   They’re singin’ out for rain.


 “They’re singin’ out for rain,” he said, “And all the tanks are dry.”

 The congregation scratched its head, and gazed around the sky.


  “There won’t be grass, in any case, Enough to feed an ass; There’s not a blade on Casey’s place

  As I came down to Mass.”

“If rain don’t come this month,” said Dan Croke, and cleared his throat to speak- “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan, “If rain don’t come this week.”


A heavy silence seemed to steal.  On all at this remark; And each man squatted on his heel, and chewed a piece of bark.


“We want a inch of rain, we do,” O’Neil observed at last;  But Dan Croke “maintained” we wanted two to put the danger past.


“If we don’t get three inches, man, or four to break this drought, We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,”Before the year is out.”


In God’s good time down came the rain; and all the afternoon, on iron roof and window-pane, It drummed a homely tune.


And through the night it pattered still, and lightsome, gladsome elves on dripping spout and window-sill. Kept talking to themselves.


It pelted, pelted all day long, A-singing at its work,Till every heart took up the song.Way out to Back-o’Bourke.


And every creek a banker ran, and dams filled overtop; “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,”If this rain doesn’t stop.”


And stop it did, in God’s good time; and spring came in to fold. A mantle o’er the hills sublime of green and pink and gold.


And days went by on dancing feet, With harvest-hopes immense,  and laughing eyes beheld the wheat. Nid-nodding o’er the fence.


And, oh, the smiles on every face, as happy lad and lass. Through grass knee-deep on Casey’s place   Went riding down to Mass.


While round the church in clothes genteel. Discoursed the men of mark, and each man squatted on his heel, and chewed his piece of bark.


“There’ll be bush-fires for sure, me man, there will, without a doubt; We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan, “Before the year is out.”

John O’Brien