Dominic Behan   •   McCafferty (Irish Folk Songs)

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  • McCafferty (Irish Folk Songs)
    • 1959 - Collector JEI (15)02 EP (UK)
  • Side One
    1. Dicey Riley (solo)
    2. Kelvin Lass
    3. McCafferty
  • Side Two
    1. Bucket Of Mountain Dew
    2. Van Diemen's Land
    3. Wearing Of The Green

  • Musicians
    • Dominic Behan
    • Robin Hall: Guitar
  • Credits
    • Engineer: Bernard Mattimore
    • Supervised: Colin Pomroy
    • Recorded, London, November 5th, 1958

Sleeve Notes

Dicey Riley: Dicey, Maggie, Biddy, Lizzy. All Riley's. Who was she? Probably some old soul sick and tired of ekeing out an existence, and now, in the last stages of despair, driven to accept the warm glow of a public-house in preference to the cold ugliness of an empty tenement grate. For two-pence halfpenny, she can sit in Brady's Butt Bridge hostelry, idly contemplating her pint of Porter, listening to the dreams of other displaced 'Dublinese', unaware that some Music Hall script-writer is preparing to caricature their innocent conversation for Dan Lowry's, or the Queen's Theatre. I got it some Saturday or another when some person or another, was being dismissed from some pub or another, during my childhood. (Origin and transition: Music-hall to folk tradition. Author: Your Grandfather, or his, maybe.)

Kelvin Lass: No one outside 'Glasgow', ever hears much about the River Kelvin, or lovely Kelvin Grove Park, the beauty spot — stuck on the smoke blackened cheek of 'Scotland's industrial centre. The great Clyde is the profit-spinner, and only courting couples (lovers for love and nowhere to go) can appreciate the green velvet glade, patiently watched over by the wonderful sandstone monument that is the University of Glasgow. I courted my wife by the banks of the Kelvin, and it gave me an excuse for using the tune of 'Cailin Deas' (Wonderful girl) to the words which you hear on this record, and which are my own. (Sing them for money and pay me. Sing them because you like them, and I shall be delighted.)

McCafferty: Extra verses have, in recent years, been added to this 'typical-of-the-Army' soldiers ballad which was written around the shooting of a NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICER in Liverpool in 1896. He did not die, nor was McCafferty hanged, but the song maker could not resist the inclination to what we now know as twentieth-century news mongering. (Origin and transition: Song of protest into folk tradition. Tune: 'My Boy Willie'. I collected this song from a Mr. House, himself a retired Sergeant Major of the McCafferty period. He (Mr. House) died in 1938.)

Bucket of Mountain Dew: "The more I tasted, the more I liked it; the more I liked it I tasted more. The more I tasted, the more I liked it, till all my senses were swum ashore." The Scots poet responsible for those lines certainly gave the best appreciation of whiskey that I, for one, have ever heard. This song dates from 1900. A 'gauger' was the name commonly used for the hated excise man.

Van Diemen's Land: After Britain lost her penal settlements (by virtue of America's successful claim to independence) they decided to use the newly discovered colony of New South Wales, and set about transforming the whole of Tasmania into a huge prison. Here they housed all types of unfortunate people, thieves, murderers, Army deserters, and possibly anyone who might look hungry enough to even contemplate committing a crime. One of its first governors was Captain William Bligh of Bounty fame. (Origin and transition: Irish based: into Scottish folk tradition. Tune: 'Ta mo croide briste' (old Irish keening song). Collected from my mother, Kathleen Behan, of Dublin.)

Wearing of the Green: Until the early 1900's it was a crime to speak, write, or read in the Irish language. It was also criminal to wear Ireland's National colours or emblems, hence the song. This only a snatch of the very popular (in Ireland) street song. (Origin and transition: Street into street. Tradition? Considerably lucky to find its way into James Joyce's 'McCafferty (Irish Folk Songs)'. Tune: Some 'folk' say it's to 'The Rising of the Moon', but since that song was written afterwards, it's a great pity I'm not writing about 'The Rising of the Moon'.)

Notes by Dominic Behan