Mick Moloney was born in Limerick, Ireland, but makes his home in the U.S. As on 1995's Out of Ireland, his subject is the Irish in America, specifically how generations of desperate immigrants took ship, made landfall, struggled for their livelihoods, and, finally, achieved economic and social parity. He is a convincing storyteller, inhabiting the lives of railroad laborers, sailors, Civil War volunteers, and separated lovers. Backup singers Beverley Smith and Saul Broudy perform with rare empathy and grace. Fiddler Eileen Ivers, late of Riverdance, is rich toned and idiomatic, but Bruce Molsky and Marie Reilly are also remarkably fine players. Standouts include an affecting version of "Skibereen," a famine-era dirge describing the deliberate, relentless starvation of an entire village. And on "Sweet King Williamstown," a lad from steerage survives the sinking of the Titanic only to meet his fate during World War I


“Far From the Shamrock Shore” A CD by Mike Moloney

          [Mike has written the following histories of each song. They are included with the CD.  There are seventeen titles.]



Song #1 The Boatman's Dance (click to hear this song)


This song was written in 1843 by Dan Emmet (1815-1904), one of the most famous Irish American performers in minstrelsy.  More likely than not, he adapted it from a popular older African American song which was sung near his home in Mount Vernon, Ohio in the 1830s by African American river boatmen on the Ohio River.  Emmet, whose grandfather John had emigrated from Ireland before the Revolutionary War and served as a surgeon and chaplain in Washington's army, was an outstanding singer and banjo and fiddle player who formed the Virginia Minstrels with Frank Brower, Dick Pelham and Billy Whitlock in the early 1840s and toured Britain and Ireland in the summer of 1843.  In this tour, Emmet introduced the 5-string banjo formally to Ireland for the first time along with fellow Irish American Joel Walker Sweeney, the most famous banjo player of the day, who guested with the group for the tour.       "The Boatman's Dance" was one of the staples of their repertoire featuring a classic song and dance minstrel routine-all the Virginia minstrels were accomplished dancers whose style was drawn from an amalgam of African, English and Irish influences.  Emmet is best known today as the author of "Dixie" which he wrote (or again more probably adapted from African American antecedents) on a rainy day in New York City in 1859 when he was a celebrated member of Bryant's Minstrels, one of the most prominent New York troupes of the era.  It was originally designed to be a minstrel walk-around, closing out the show with all members of the cast on stage, but he watched astonished as it became the anthem of the Confederacy during the Civil War.



Song #2 Pat Murphy of the Irish Brigade (click to hear this song)


This is one of the most poignant songs about the Irish who died in the American Civil War.  The Irish Brigade was commanded by Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher, who was born into a wealthy merchant family in County Waterford which had made its fortune by financing and exploiting the 18th century Irish cod fisheries in Newfoundland. Meagher, an ardent Nationalist, had fought in the short lived 1848 rebellion.  He was captured along with fellow revolutionary, John Mitchell, tried and sentenced to death, but this sentence was commuted to exile in far-off Tasmania.  He escaped and made his way to New York where he became a successful lawyer.  When the war broke out, he enlisted in the Union Army where he became a captain in the 69th Regiment and fought in the first battle of the war in Bull Run. After the 69th Regiment was decimated at the Battle of Fredericksburg, many Irish soldiers continued to fight under an Irish banner.  Meagher was appointed as one of eight Irish-born generals in the Union Army and helped organize and then lead The Irish Brigade which included many veterans from the 69th.  The Irish Brigade was to become indelibly associated with the heroism of the Irish in the Civil War.  Thousands of Brigade soldiers fought and died in major battles, including Antietam and Gettysburg. Through their heroic sacrifice, they helped quell anti-Irish sentiment in America and paved the path of acceptance for their own families and for future generations of Irish immigrants to the United States in the years to come.  The bravery of the young Irish soldiers was celebrated in hundreds of songs penned during and after the war by writers who found a ready outlet for them on the variety stage. Many of the songs such as "Pat Murphy of the Irish Brigade" expressed the hope that the sacrifice of these brave young Irishmen would not be forgotten while their countrymen back in the homeland still struggled for their freedom.  Versions of the song can be found in John Wright's Irish Immigrant Sons and Ballads (University of Bowling Green, 1973).



Song #3 Skibereen (click to hear this song)


The late Joe Heaney used to call this "the granddaddy of all the emigration songs." In the four years from 1845-49, a million and a half men, women and children died in the Great Irish Famine.  Another million left Ireland for America.  They either sailed directly from Ireland or walked from towns emptied by starvation, typhus, and dysentery to sail to Liverpool and board "coffin ships" on which thousands more would die before ever seeing North America. When the famine struck, Ireland's native population of eight million (nearly four million more than live in the country today) was poverty-stricken and crowded onto scattered land holdings. Most of the native Irish could only afford to rent tiny parcels of poor quality land from their wealthier countrymen, while descendants of Protestant British settlers owned Ireland's most fertile acreage-granted to them during the 16th and 17th century British occupation.  As a result, a typical Irish tenant farmer was barely able to feed a family of up to ten children from potatoes grown on less than one acre of poor land while wealthy descendants from British settlers, like Lord Cunningham in Donegal or his neighbor Lord Leitrim, grazed livestock for profit on their 100,000 acre farms.  When a fungus new to Europe arrived in Ireland in 1845 and killed the potatoes for four consecutive years, the majority of the population faced starvation or death by the diseases that quickly spread through the densely crowded tiny houses on the small tenant farms.  Most disturbing of all is the fact that a combination of indifference, incompetence, prejudice and greed helped ensure that the famine victims did not receive the kind of assistance that would have been extended to mainland British citizens. Food that could have been used to save lives in Ireland contributed to increased prosperity among wealthy absentee landlords in Britain.  As people lay dying all over Britain's closest colony, livestock and grain were being exported to England daily to pay rents and taxes. Consequently, many Irish would prefer to this day to call the catastrophe of those times "The Great Irish Hunger" or "The Great Irish Starvation" rather than the Irish Famine.  Many of those who arrived safely on American shores would work and save to send passage money for other family members still in Ireland.  All the while they would be hoping that those left behind would not end up among the countless thousands buried in mass graves.   Graves like the ones in the grounds of Abbeysrewry Churchyard near the picturesque town of Skibereen. This town in West Cork was the gateway to the starkly beautiful Mizen peninsula where over 80 per cent of the people perished in the famine.  The name "Skibereen" became almost synonymous with the Irish famine mostly due to the many stories that appeared in the London Illustrated News about the horrors seen by reporters in the area.  The song, which was written decades after the famine, is set in America where a young boy asks his father why is left his native land.



Song  #4  The Irish Volunteer (click to hear this song)


I first heard this highly partisan American Civil War song sung by New York singers David Kincaid and Dan Milner.    It was written in 1861 by Joe English, a well-known New York songwriter and performer, to the tune of the popular Irish song "The Irish Jaunting Car."  The patriotism of the Irish volunteer is established early on in the song where his family history is traced to the battle of 1798, a campaign which saw the harp and shamrock become the official symbols of the United Irishman who fought heroically for the cause of Irish freedom and the rights of man.  At the onset of the Civil War, the Irish volunteer eagerly enlists in the 69th Regiment to show his loyalty to the new republic that he now calls home. The 69th New York Volunteers was known by Irish and non-Irish alike as the Gallant 69th.  It was headed by Colonel Michael Corcoran who endeared himself to Irish people everywhere by refusing to parade the 69th Militia for the visit of the Prince of Wales to New York City in the fall of 1860, an action for which he subsequently faced court martial.  The 69th Regiment suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Bull Run and was almost completely wiped out at the Battle of Fredericksburg.  Also mentioned in the song are Thomas Francis Meagher and Colonel Thomas Nugent, both members of the 69th Regiment, whose office battle flags were the Harp of Erin and the Stars and Stripes. Most of the regiment soldiers followed these flags into battle wearing a sprig of green in their caps.



Song  #5  Erin's Green Shore (click to hear this song)


This version is collated from a few different versions I came across in a number of late 19th and early 20th century American songsters and broadsides in the late Kenny Goldstein's matchless collection. The song was widely sung in the Southern and Eastern United States and was a particular favorite in the logging camps of Maine, Massachusetts and upstate New York. The tune I learned from the sing-ing of Appalachian style singer, Hedy West, whose haunting voice and stark 5-string banjo captivated me when I first heard her perform in England in the late 1960s.  The song is classic "aisling," a genre of song writing popular with Ireland's poets from the 17th century onwards in which Mother Ireland is represented allegorically in the form of a woman in bondage to English power.  She appears to a young man in a dream, captivates him and asks for assistance.  She identifies herself in this song unambiguously as the "daughter of Daniel O'Connell" - the legendary early 19th century Irish political activist.  She speaks through the dream of the dangers she faces and of her mission to rally her oppressed brethren who "slumber on Erin's Green Shore."  He awakens sadly to find she has gone but he knows that her memory and her message will linger with him forever.



Song  #6  Green Grows the Laurel


I heard this version of the well-known 19th century love song sung by the great Antrim singer Len Graham who in turn learned it from legendary County Fermanagh flute player and singer Cathal McConnell.  It was carried to America probably by immigrants from the North of Ireland in the early nineteenth century.  Versions have turned up in various parts of the southern Appalachian mountains and also much farther a field in the far west where a variant of the song, "Green Grows the Lilacs," was recorded by Tex Ritter.  It is reputed to have been widely sung by Irish soldiers who served in the U.S. Army in the Mexican American War between 1846 and 1848 and the song was so catchy that it appears to have become quickly part of the army repertoire. Indeed one of the many theories of origin of the term "gringo" is that so many Mexicans heard so many Anglo-Celtic soldiers singing the refrain that they assumed it was kind of important identity marker. None of my friends and colleagues who claim to be experts in Mexican American history can prove that this is not true!



Song #7  You Lovers All


I first heard this sung by the mighty Frank Harte.   The song is set in the context of post famine emigration from Ireland to North America. Versions from various broadsides are published in John Wright's Irish Emigrant Songs and Ballads. By this time land inheritance patterns had changed dramatically from pre-famine arrangements where the land was divided equally among all members of rural families.   This led to tiny and often dispersed land holdings with attendant poverty, but at least everyone had a potential stake in the society and could marry and raise a family. Post-famine land reforms ordained a new situation where land was now inherited by just one son who often received claim to the land late in life when his parents either died or reluctantly passed it on.  Generally he would then enter into an arranged marriage.  His new and often much younger wife would come into his landholding with a dowry furnished by her parents and she would become the new woman of the house.  If a young woman did not have a dowry in post-famine rural Ireland her chances of marriage were slim. Typically, in large families which were poor, only one or two daughters could be furnished with dowries.    There were very few employment opportunities outside the home for unmarried women; so accordingly, huge numbers were forced to emigrate.  For a time, more Irish women than men emigrated to America, making the Irish case unique. During the 19th century in parts of rural Ireland it was rare for a person to marry outside of their class.  However, hundreds of songs in the 19th century followed the tradition about lovers eloping. These attest to the fact that many simply broke the rules and took matters into their own hands. I love the part in the song where the woman pursuing her true love to North America finds him in the first pub she enters after disembarking.    The ultimate definition of a happy ending!



Song  #8  When the Breaker Starts Up Full Time


This was one of the most popular songs from the Eastern Pennsylvania anthracite coal mining region in the 1870s. The song was written by the legendary Con Carbon, one of the most prolific songwriters in the coalfields. It is still sung to this day by performers in the area including the colorful ballad group, The Molly Maguires. Named after the enigmatic secret Irish society whose members included some of the early pioneers of labor organizing in the Eastern United States, the group is quite popular.  I learned this version from their singing.  Most of the mine laborers were Irish emigrants, the majority of them from County Donegal.     They held the hardest and poorest paid jobs from the moment they arrived.  Long workdays, dangerous conditions, and law wages were just a few of the many injustices heaped upon the laborers by the mining companies. The miners were routinely shortchanged for their work and docked wages for such things as the use of necessary mining equipment and impurities in the coal they sent up from below. They were also charged exorbitant sums for basic necessities from the town's company-owned store. Coal for house heating and basic children’s education were often "luxuries" priced beyond a miner's budget. With these oppressive practices, the mining companies kept the flimsy shanties of their company-built towns filled with indebted miners.  "When the Breaker Starts up Full Time" is full of irony; the implicit assumption of the song being that the breaker, which processed the raw coal, will never, in fact, "start up full time," thus keeping the miners in permanent poverty.    There is an oblique reference in the final verse to the tensions between the Irish and the Austrian-Hungarian miners who were prepared to work for lower pay.      This was one of the many areas of inter-ethnic tension between the Irish and other immigrants of differing nationalities, including the Welsh and Cornish miners who arrived as experienced mine workers from the old country and enjoy far higher wages and much better living conditions.



Song #9 No Irish Need Apply


This song was written by the famous New York songwriter, John Poole, a native of Dublin who also wrote the stage Irish classic, "Tim Finnegan's Wake." It was made famous on the American vaudeville stage by Italian American, Tony Pastor, who sang it night after night in his own theater in Manhattan, dressed up imposingly in black tails and tall hat.  It was hugely popular with Irish audiences who had seen No Irish Need Apply signs posted with regularity outside places of employment particularly in east coast urban America.  Prejudice was one of the hardships these new arrivals had hoped they were leaving behind.  Not until they arrived on a distant shore did many Irish realize they would be faced with this formidable challenge. This was in addition to making a new life in a strange country.  Making things worse was that many influential Americans readily accepted the image of the Irish as irresponsible, flawed individuals. This stereotyped portrait had been portrayed on the British popular stage for a century.    Native born Americans, to a great extent, prided themselves on their British ancestry and their liberal Protestantism. They believed - as many British did - that Irish poverty was a sign of laziness and immorality, of ignorance and superstition; traits they considered inseparable from Irishness and Catholicism. Irish men and women were depicted in newspapers and in popular caricatures in magazines such as Harpers and Judge as apelike, sub-human and anarchic.  This attitude gained further credibility from interpretations based on Darwinian research, that some cultures and some societies were inherently less evolved than others and therefore inferior. Ironically while presenting a heartfelt and enduring reaction to the anti Irish bigotry of the day, “No Irish Need Apply “ contains the stereotype of the Irish as pugilists and employs the stage Irish patios, which was often used in public to ridicule the Irish.


Comments that follow are from the ending paragraph of a long essay by Richard Jensen who contends there were never any “No Irish Need Apply” signs, that they were a figment of the Irish community's imagination.  "In conclusion, the Irish are especially important for having risen from the bottom to the top of the ladder over a period of a century and a half. Was it in the face of intense hostility, symbolized by the omnipresent sign, "Help Wanted: No Irish Need Apply?”


They themselves believed the sign appeared on shops and factories in every large city, forcing them downward into the worst jobs, and represented deliberate humiliation by arrogant Protestant Yankees. But what if there were no such signs? The "No Irish" slogan came from John Poole's enormously popular Irish-American song that originated about 1862. The song and slogan had the effect of reinforcing political solidarity. It also strengthened the work gang outlook of Irish workers who tried to stick together at all times.     It warned the Irish against looking for jobs outside their community, and it explained their low upward social mobility. Relatively few moved up the occupational ladder even as the American economy grew explosively. The slogan identified an enemy to blame, and justified bully behavior on the city streets. Irish history is an American success story, and they no longer need myths about No Irish Need Apply."        http://tigger.uic.edu/~rjensen/no-irish.htm



Song #10 Me Uncle Dan McCann


I first heard this delightful song on a 78 rpm recording made in the late 1920s by County Wicklow born singer and Uillean Piper, Shaun O'Nolan.  Nolan was a good traditional musician but at heart he was a vaudevillian who sang in a hearty rough country style with a minimum of finesse but plenty of theatrical enthusiasm.  The late Waterford banjo player, Mike Flanagan, of the famous Flanagan Brothers also knew the song and told me it was very popular in the 1920s and 30s in New York. The song combines a good-humored joviality with a sense of pride in the extraordinary social and political accomplishments of the post-famine immigrant Irish.  Beginning in the 1860s, the Irish began to exert a remarkable effect in American political life gaining power predominantly as members of the Democratic Party political machines in the large urban areas particularly in cities such as Boston, Chicago and New York. Preparing them for their meteoric rise to power in American urban politics was the experience they had gained in political organizing back in Ireland in the years before the famine.  From the 1820s on they had learned first hand about the effectiveness of grassroots political organization through involve-ment in the Catholic Emancipation movement led by Daniel O'Connell. They had learned over and over again the hard lesson of achieving political gains under a repressive regime that denied them fundamental civil rights such as the right to vote and own property.  In their fight against colonialism they had learned how to operate successfully outside conventional legal and political machinery.  This acumen was to prove invaluable in dealing with the fluid world of American urban politics where the rules had yet to be written.     Their political style was based on the notion of hierarchical reciprocity which dominated social relationships in the rural Ireland they had come from -- basically that of favors given and received and favors due.  The story of Uncle Dan McCan's life in America and his continuing affection for Ireland represented the pinnacle of the Irish achievement in 19th century American politics.



Song  #11 Paddy Works on the Railway


Different variants of "Paddy Works on the Railway" appear widely in broadsides in America between 1850 and 1880, though it is likely that the first versions of the song were imported from England.  This is a collated version which includes a tag at the end that I first heard sung by Luke Kelly of the Dubliners in the 1960s.   The treble strike of the pick ax and the bass rumble of rock, soil and earth being blasted out and hauled away to create canals or lay railroad track is brought to mind by many similar songs written in mid-1880s when the sounds, sights, sweat and toil of huge construction projects - like the Transcontinental Railroad - filled the long days of millions of Irish migrant workers new to this country. Men, who left Ireland impoverished, provided much of the raw manpower needed to lay and link the web of iron and water that eventually criss-crossed this wide continent.  Indeed Irish immigrant labor was largely responsible for building the infrastructure that the United States needed to become a highly profitable industrial power in the 1800s.  The toll taken on the lives of these immigrants was enormous and the loss of life incalculable. The average life span of an Irish canal or railroad worker was around seven years as disease, alcoholism and violence ran rampant in the hovels of the shanty towns that sprang up the path of the railroads.



Song #12 The Mulligan Guard


This was one of the most famous songs written by popular dramatist, Ed Harrigan, often described as "the Dickens of America." Born in 1844 in a heavily Irish community on Manhattan's East Side, Harrigan witnessed first-hand the daily drama in New York's patchwork of ghettos, where a multitude of ethnic groups lived side-by-side.  Harrigan portrayed the urban America he knew in a tremendous career that combined writing, acting in, and producing plays and songs.  As a twenty-seven year old actor and singer, Harrigan teamed up with a young Irish American singer and dancer named Anthony Cannon, who soon changed his name to Tony Hart.  Harrigan and Hart became the most celebrated duo of the 1870s and 80s.     In their own Theater Comique on Broadway they produced scores of hugely successful musicals.  Both Harrigan and Hart were great stage performers but Harrigan was the one who wrote the plays. He produced over thirty-six in all, and created more than eighty shorter sketches. He also wrote lyrics for the many songs that filled these plays while the melodies were composed by this musical collaborator and father in law, David Braham.       The many plays and songs that Harrigan wrote about lower class life in city slums represented a unique window into immigrant Irish urban culture.  This was hardly surprising given that in his heyday in the 1870s one out of every two inhabitants of Manhattan was Irish born. The themes of his plays dwelt on the social issues of the day including jobs, occupa-tions, recruiting, ward politics and voting. Also of confidence men and other types of criminals, language prob-lems of immigrants, tenement housing, and landlord-tenant disputes. Some of Harrigan and Hart's most popular characters appeared in a series of plays about, "The Mulligan Guard" -a mythical Irish-American target company of the day headed by Dan Mulligan, a man of enormous integrity who resisted pressures to assimilate and abandon his working class Irish American identity.  Target companies emerged after the Civil War and were often fraternal, ethnic and exclusionary in membership. They organized shooting expeditions and got together for regular week-end picnics, where the rivalry between different companies adorned in elaborate uniforms often erupted into brawls. All this was commented upon and satirized in the Mulligan Guard productions which paraded scores of Irish American characters across the stage to the delight of audiences everywhere. This, the theme song of the series, was one of the most popular hits of the day, sung on every street corner and in every saloon.



Song #13 Maloney The Rolling Mill Man


Positive images of the Irish as hard working decent Americans, the kind of people one would be delighted to have as friends and neighbors, abounded in American popular songs in the late 1800s.  This song, proclaiming the virtues of an upstanding Irish American was written by John Walter Kelly who grew up in an Irish family working in the steel mills around Pittsburgh in the 1880s. He graduated to the position of rolling mill man, an occupation which represented the aristocracy of the profession [eventually the job was suddenly eliminated by mechanization]. Happily unemployed he headed to Chicago and realized his life long dream which was to become a vaudevillian.  He established his own theater on State Street in North Chicago and wrote some of the most popular songs of the 1890s.  Among them were "Slide Kelly Slide," which was a big hit among baseball fans, and "Throw Him Down McCluskey" about a savage fistfight between two Irishman. This became a huge hit in New York where it was performed on the vaudeville stage by the colorful Maggie Cline, who would get stage hands and audience members alike to make banging noises as she thundered out the chorus.  He also wrote "The Great Milwaukee Fire" about the tragic death of scores of young women in a boarding house fire.  Many of the women who died were from County Limerick, staying in cheap lodgings on their way to work as dairymaids in Wisconsin. And another one of his big successes was "Maloney the Rolling Mill Man" no doubt modeled humorously after himself.  Especially in American urban settings, the local parish and Catholic Church became the center of Irish community life and involvement in church activities conveyed a prime measure of respectability.  The fact that Maloney was the one chosen to take up the collection at Sunday mass attests, of course, to the unimpeachability of his character.



Song  #14  Clancy's Wooden Wedding


This prototypical stage Irish song was a favorite of the noted New York singer and comedian, James Porter, who first recorded it in 1910.  It is a classic example of the 19th century "Irish fight" song which commonly presented the Irish as fun loving, good natured but frequently intoxicated pugilists.  All the songs in this vein basically had the same structure.  A party would be arranged.  The occasion might be a wedding, wake, birthday, christening or anniversary - in this case the 5th anniversary of the wedding of Pat Clancy.  Typically the guests arriving would be introduced with a litany of Irish names. Festivities would begin with an abundance of food and drink. Then a verbal repartee would escalate into a fight.  It would begin with fisticuffs and then shillelaghs and other weapons would be produced which might include chair legs or other objects rescued from the debris.  Murder and mayhem would ensue with broken heads and sometimes corpses all around. The police would arrive and sometimes they too became involved in the melee.  They would arrest the participants and frequently the song would conclude with a description of the ensuing court case and the sentencing of the pugilists.        By the time "The Wooden Wedding" became popular most Irish American singers would have performed this kind of song very much tongue-in-cheek from a secure vantage point on the now elevated position on the American social ladder.



Song # 15  The Kellys


This jovial song was extremely popular among Irish American audiences in the early 20th century, judging by the number of performers who recorded 78 rpm versions of it including Shaun O'Nolan and the McNulty family. But the time the song was current the Irish had made a major transition from low status immigrant work to a wide range of occupations in urban America, a phenomenon they celebrated in their songs. As in any large immigrant group, there were Irish Americans, of course, who still worked on the low end of the pay scale as laborers and domestic help.  Now, however, more highly skilled and educated second-and third-generation Irish Americans enjoyed greatly increased opportunities, filling a wide variety of occupations.   They worked in construction, factories, and ware-houses.  They formed and entered religious orders as priests and nuns.   They became clerks, educators, labor leaders, teachers, nurses, policemen, firemen, shopkeepers, sportsmen, entertainers and politicians. By the turn of the century, so accepted were the Irish in America that few avenues in society were closed to them.  The popular culture reflected these changed circumstances portraying Irish men and women in a new, favorable light.



Song  #16  Sweet King Williamstown


This song was written in the early 1900s by Daniel Buckley, a native of King Williamstown in the Sliabh Luachra area of County Cork, now known more by its original name of Ballydesmond.  Buckley was a "character" with a precocious talent for singing and song writing, well known and liked in the locality. He decided to emigrate to the United states in 1912, at the age of 22, along with his 16 year old cousin Nora O'Leary who had received an offer to work as a domestic in New York.  The ship they sailed on out of Queenstown Harbor was none other than the Titanic.  When the ship struck the iceberg Danny Buckley was among those who led the charge from steerage to first class, breaking down the dividing doors in the process.  He made it onto a lifeboat but, when officers with revolvers came to order all the men out of boats, Danny's nerve broke.  As he lay cowering in the corner of a lifeboat, trying to hide, one of the female lifeboat passengers took pity on him and threw her shawl over him.  Thus disguised as a woman, he managed to escape detection and was among those who made it safely to New York. The whole story came out during a U.S. Senate hearing on the tragedy when he was forced to appear and tell of his experiences.   


Indeed there was hardly ever a more reluctant witness subpoenaed to appear before that august body!  Afterwards he was known disparagingly among the New York Irish as "Danny Buckley the girl."  Probably motivated by a desire to prove his manhood, he enlisted in the American army in World War I. He was transferred overseas in 1918 and in the last week of the war was the last American solder to be killed -- ironically while helping wounded fellow soldiers escape the battlefields of France.  "Sweet King Williamstown," his most famous composition, is still sung to the day in his native Ballydesmond where he is buried in the local cemetery right beside his cousin Nora.


Song #17  Daisy Bell


I first heard this song on a 1930s 78 rpm recording of the famed McNulty Family who were the most famous Irish performing song and dance group in the Eastern United States between 1930 and the late 1950s.     It uses the popularity of the well known popular 1890s song of the same name to comment ironically on the changing shape of ethnicity among Irish Americans in the early years of the 20th century. This was a time of great transition in Irish American urban culture as young people, the sons and daughters of immigrants choose to broaden their cultural perspectives and strike out beyond the comfortable boundaries of the ethnic community.  Unlike their forbears in post famine rural Ireland, young Irish Americans in the first quarter of the twentieth century could defiantly assert their right to choose their own partners in romance and marriage, and they did so.    Future generations of Irish Americans would not only choose their husbands and wives from their own community, but look out into the multi-ethnic American population to find their partners, people with faces and cultures very different from their own. Pete McNulty's parody of the popular turn of the century hit, "Daisy Bell," foresees this seismic change in the immigrant culture in gentle, good humored fashion.


CD can be bought on Amazon.com


Thanks to Thomas Travers who put together the postings.


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