Page first created June 13, 2003. Last edited June 13, 2003. Copyright 2003 by Thom Parrott.

Danish Folk Group
Paddy Doyles LP/CD
Thom Parrott wrote the title song.
Buy Thom's new CD now!

Paddy Doyles is a Danish folk group which performs mostly traditional songs from the British Isles in English. Their fourth LP was titled "Aberfan" and Thom Parrott's song "The Aberfan Coaltip Tragedy" was included.

At right is the coaltip or slag heap of the song and the buildings in the foreground are part of the Welsh village of Aberfan. The local school is buried somewhere in the center of the dark triangle. The picture is from a site maintained by the Red Dragon of Wales. This link will take you to his Welsh account of the Aberfan tragedy.

"The Aberfan Coaltip Tragedy" was first published in Broadside Magazine and included in Oak Publications' "Best of Broadside Magazine, Volume II." Thom Parrott sings it with solo guitar on his first Folkways LP, "Neon Princess." This version was one of three songs written and performed by Thom in the Smithsonian Folkways' "Best of Broadside, 1962-88," a 2001 Grammy nominated 5-CD boxed set.

All the Folkways and Broadside recordings are still available from the Smithsonian. This link will open a new window --

words & music by Thom Parrott
Copyright 1966 by Thom Parrott

The mining men of Wales are hardy, strong and bold,
And they tunnel in the earth and make it yield its coal.
But in the town of Aberfan, it's dearer now than gold,
For one generation, for the black rock, has been sold.

How many died in Aberfan
When the coal tip came rumbling down?
How many children will never grow old?
How many lives purchase how many pounds of coal?

The little school of Pantglas* lay where the mountain loomed,
And some two hundred children took their lessons in its rooms.
The day fall recess was to begin, they went to meet their doom,
Not knowing "the green hollow" would soon become their tomb.

It was just 9:00 AM when they opened up the door,
And in came the children, two hundred, maybe more,
For nobody knew what the mountain had in store.
The lucky ones were tardy, the others are no more.

"I played with my big dog, I played with my cat."
Signed "Paul, October 21." There's nothing after that.
For the mountain came down, and everyone was trapped,
And now there's only coal slag where little Paul once sat.

In eighteen hundred and seventy-four, the first pit shaft went down,
And they started piling mining waste on the slopes above the town.
Everybody knew that the practice was unsound
But for ninety-two years no better place was found.

The men of the National Coal Board said that they'd known from the first.
The coal tips they permitted were a worry and a curse.
But I've heard that kind of thing so many times and it always sounds rehearsed.
If the coal tip was a murderer, the Coal Board's crime was worse.

For the children all were pretty, the children all were fine,
But the children went to school in the shadow of the mine.
With the coal tip up above them, they were running out of time,
And they were buried alive by the Ministry of Mine.

How many died in Aberfan
When the coal tip came tumbling down.
How many children will never grow old.
How many lives purchase how many tons of coal.

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Paddy Doyles recording of The Aberfan Coaltip Tragedy,
words and music by Tom Parrott

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