“Back from the island of Suloon”

The original Johnny of “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye” might have fought in the Ceylon campaign of 1795-96.

In response to my query about the reference to “the island of Suloon” the lyrics to “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye,” a reader reports that the British fought five battles in Ceylon in the years 1795-1796, with the Irish being used heavily as cannon fodder. That would seem to narrow down the dates for the composition of the words. I wonder if there was a connection between either the campaign or the song and the Rising of ’98?

Still no word on whether the original lyrics included “They will never take our sons again.”

Speaking of anti-war songs, Mike O’Hare, whose grandmother spent more than a year in prison for opposing World War I, sends a link to the great pacifist lyric of that period, “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to be a Soldier.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com