This is a beautifully poignant song about the terrible way many children were deprived of the chance to enjoy their youthful innocence. It speaks of the young boys who were sent down the mines from a very young age. Many boys were, perhaps, enthused with the idea of joining their fathers, and uncles and older brothers at the coal face. They yearned to be treated as grown-ups. Little did they know what awaited them. But the wage was necessary and so down they went, into the depths of working class hell. Those who survived often did so with horrible injuries, serious lung complaints and breathing difficulties in later life. The price they paid for the exploitation of capitalist corporation was considerable.
School Days Over is a jaunty ballad that seems to contradict the haunting content. Perhaps that’s why its such a mesmerising song. It’s sung here by one of Ireland’s greatest balladeers, Luke Kelly, a firm favourite of Rebel Voice.