2/10/2020

Whiskey in the Jar

This is one of the best known Irish folk songs, and it dates to the 17th century. It’s a story of a highwayman (a bandit) and his not so faithful lover. The song came to colonial America and became popular as a way of disrespecting British officials.

As I was a goin' over the far famed Kerry mountains
I met with Captain Farrell and his money he was counting
I first produced my pistol and I then produced my rapier
Saying "stand and deliver" for he were a bold deceiver

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o
Whack for my daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar

I counted out his money and it made a pretty penny
I put it in me pocket and I took it home to Jenny
She sighed and she swore that she never would deceive me
But the devil take the women for they never can be easy

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o
Whack for my daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar

I went up to my chamber, all for to take a slumber
I dreamt of gold and jewels and for sure 't was no wonder
But Jenny drew me charges and she filled them up with water
Then sent for captain Farrell to be ready for the slaughter

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o
Whack for my daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar

'Twas was early in the morning, just before I rose to travel
Up comes a band of footmen and likewise captain Farrell
I first produced me pistol for she stole away me rapier
I couldn't shoot the water, so a prisoner I was taken

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o
Whack for my daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar

Now there's some take delight in the carriages a-rollin'
And others take delight in the hurling and the bowling
But I take delight in the juice of the barley
And courting pretty fair maids in the morning bright and early

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o
Whack for my daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar

If anyone can aid me 't is my brother in the army
If I can find his station in Cork or in Killarney
And if he'll go with me, we'll go rovin' through Killkenny
And I'm sure he'll treat me better than my own a-sporting Jenny

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o
Whack for my daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar



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2/07/2020

Finnegan's Wake

In the ballad, Finnegan's Wake, the hod-carrier Tim Finnegan, born "with a love for the liquor", falls from a ladder, breaks his skull, and is thought to be dead. The mourners at his wake become rowdy, and spill whiskey over Finnegan's corpse, causing him to come back to life and join in the celebrations.



Tim Finnegan lived in Walkin Street
A gentle Irishman, mighty odd
He'd a beautiful brogue so rich and sweet
And to rise in the world he carried a hod
You see he'd a sort of the tipp' lin' way
With the love of the liquor, poor Tim was born
And to help him on with his work each day
He'd a drop of the craythur every morn
Whack fol the da, now, dance to your partner
Welt the floor your trotters shake
Wasn't it the truth I tell you
Lots of fun at Finnegan's wake

One mornin' Tim was rather full
His head felt heavy, which made him shake
He fell from the ladder and he broke his skull
And they carried him home his corpse to wake
They rolled him up in a nice clean sheet
And laid him out upon the bed
With a gallon of whiskey at his feet
And a barrel of porter at his head
His friends assembled at the wake
And Mrs. Finnegan called for lunch
First they brought in tay and cake
Then pipes, tobacco and whiskey punch
Biddy O'Brien began to cry
"Such a nice clean corpse did you ever see?
Tim Mavourneen why did you die?"
"Arrah hold your gob" said Paddy McGee
Then Maggie O'Connor took up the job
"O Biddy, " says she "you're wrong I'm sure"
Biddy gave her a belt in the gob
And left her sprawling on the floor
Then the war did soon engage
It was woman to woman and man to man
Shillelagh law was all the rage
And a row and a ruction soon began
Then Mickey Maloney raised his head
When a bucket of whiskey flew at him
It missed and falling on the bed
The liquor scattered over Tim
Tim revives, see how he rises
Timothy rising from the bed
Said "Whirl your whiskey around like blazes
Thundering Jesus, do you think I'm dead?"



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2/04/2020

In Dublin's Fair City

Molly Malone is the enigmatic heroine of the famous song of the same name, widely recognised as Dublin’s unofficial anthem. Immortalised in bronze during the 1988 Dublin Millennium celebrations, her statue takes pride of place in the heart of Dublin’s historic Georgian Quarter. Though regularly upheld as a traditional Irish ballad, it is not known for certain where the song originated, or if Molly Malone ever actually existed. According to the lyrics of the undeniably catchy tune – also known as ‘Cockles and Mussels’ – Molly was a young and beautiful fishmonger who sold her yield from a cart on the streets of Dublin. The song’s final verse states that after dying of a fever she went on to haunt the city.

Molly Malone Lyrics

In Dublin's fair city
Where the girls are so pretty
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheelbarrow
Through the streets broad and narrow
Crying "cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh"
Alive, alive, oh
Alive, alive, oh
Crying "cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh"

She was a fishmonger
And sure, t'was no wonder
For so were her mother and father before
And they wheeled their barrow
Through the streets broad and narrow
Crying "cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh"
Alive, alive, oh
Alive, alive, oh
Crying "cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh"

She died of a fever
And sure, so one could save her
And that was the end of sweet Molly Malone
Now her ghost wheels her barrow
Through the streets broad and narrow
Crying "cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh"
Alive, alive, oh
Alive, alive, oh
Crying "cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh"
Alive, alive, oh
Alive, alive, oh
Crying "cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh"



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2/01/2020

Her Eyes They Shone Like Diamonds

The story behind the song Black Velvet Band

The narrator is bound apprentice in a town (which varies in different versions). He becomes romantically involved with a young woman. She steals a watch and places it in his pocket or in his hand. The apprentice appears in court the next day, and is sentenced to seven years penal servitude in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). In the broadside versions the young woman's motivation is more obvious - she has met a sailor and wants to get rid of her lover.

In the broadsides the action takes place in Ratcliffe Highway, a street in the East End of London, but in collected versions various locations are mentioned - London, Belfast, Tralee, a town in Bedfordshire, and in Dunmanway, Co. Cork. Some East Anglian singers place the action in Belfast and others in London.

Black Velvet Band Lyrics

In a neat little town they called Belfast
Apprentice to trade I was bound
And many an hour's sweet happiness
I spent in that neat little town
Til bad misfortune came over me
Which caused me to stray from the land
Far away from me friends and relations
Betrayed by the black velvet band

Her eyes they shown like diamonds
You'd think she was queen of the land
And her hair hung over her shoulders
Tied up with a black velvet band

As I was out strolling one evening
Not Meaning to go very far
I met on a ficklesome damsel
She was selling her trade in the bar
When a watch she took from a customer
And slipped it right into me hand
Then the law came and put me in prison
Bad luck to her black velvet band

Her eyes they shown like diamonds
You'd think she was queen of the land
And her hair hung over her shoulders
Tied up with a black velvet band
Next morning before judge and jury
For trial I had to appear
The judge, he says me young fellow
The case against you is quite clear
And seven long years is your sentence
You're going to Van Dieman's land
Far away from your friends and relations
To follow the black velvet band"

Her eyes they shown like diamonds
You'd think she was queen of the land
And her hair hung over her shoulders
Tied up with a black velvet band
So come all you jolly young fellows
I'll have you take warning by me
Whenever you're out on the liquor, me lads
Beware of the pretty Colleens
They'll feed you with whiskey and porterv 'Til you are unable to stand
And the very next thing that you'll know is
You've landed in Van Diemens Land

Her eyes they shown like diamonds
You'd think she was queen of the land
And her hair hung over her shoulders
Tied up with a black velvet band



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I've Been a Wild Rover

Historically, the song has been referred to in Irish folklore and, since the late sixteenth century, it has been noted in written records—although it is likely that some northern Atlantic fishing crews knew the song before these historical accounts were made.

The song is a staple for artists performing live music in Irish pubs. It is often considered to be a drinking song rather than a temperance song. For many people, the Wild Rover is the stereotypical Irish drinking song. In the twentieth century the location of the song became a major concern due to its popularity, spurring continued debate amongst several European nations.

"The Wild Rover" is the most widely performed Irish song, although its exact origins are unknown.

The song tells the story of a young man who has been away from his hometown for many years. Returning to his former alehouse the landlady refuses him credit, until he presents the gold which he has gained while he has been away. He sings of how his days of roving are over and he intends to return to his home and settle down.

Wild Rover Lyrics

I've been a wild rover for many's the year
I've spent all me money on whiskey and beer
But now I'm returning with gold in great store
And I never will play the wild rover no more

And it's no, nay, never
No, nay, never, no more
Will I play the wild rover
No never no more
I went to a tavern I used to frequent
And I told the landlady me money was spent
I asked her for credit, she answered me "nay
Such a custom as yours I can get any day"

I took up from my pocket ten souvereigns bright
And the landlady's eyes opened wide with delight
She says "I have whiskeys and wines of the best
And the words that you told me were only in jest"

I'll go home to my parents, confess what I've done
and I'll ask them to pardon their prodigal son
And when they've caressed me as oft times before
I been a wild boy but I'll be so no more

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5/25/2019

O Danny Boy

“Danny Boy” is a popular ballad that was written in 1910. Many people associate the song with Ireland, even though lyricist Frederic Weatherly was a British lawyer. The connection came when his Irish-born sister-in-law sent him a copy of the tune “Londonderry Air” in 1913. Upon receiving it, Weatherly modified his lyrics to fit the meter of the tune.

“Londonderry Air” was discovered by Jane Ross in 1851 when she heard a traveling fiddler playing on the street of Limavady, Ireland. Ross asked if she could notate the music for her friend in Dublin who was trying to preserve the ancient music of Ireland. A video on the history of the song states, “Sadly [Ross] did not note the fiddler’s name, and he may forever remain anonymous.”

Throughout the years “Danny Boy” has been considered an unofficial anthem by Irish Americans and Irish Canadians. It became popular for funerals and memorial services despite not being an official part of the ceremony and was even banned from funeral masses by some churches. A retired Irish American police officer, Charlie McKenna, from Rhode Island said, “I want ‘Danny Boy’ sung at my funeral mass, and if it isn’t, I’m going to get up and walk out.”

Oh Danny Boy lyrics

Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer's gone, and all the roses falling
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide
But come ye back when summer's in the meadow
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow
'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so

But when he come, and all the flowers are dying
If I am dead, as dead I well may be
You'll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an "Ave" there for me.
And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above me
And all my grave will warm and sweeter be
For you will bend and tell me that you love me
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me

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3/03/2019

Julie Gallaher and B.T. Collins, Election Night 1991
I've Never Liked Any Politician More
Mark Shields
Washington Post April 3, 1993

Let me confess: I generally like politicians: they're willing to openly risk public rejection. And of all the politicians I've known and liked, I never liked any one of them any more than California Assemblyman B.T. Collins, who died much too soon at 52 after a massive heart attack last month in Sacramento.




B. T. Collins Tribute


This is a reposting of a series of blogposts I did in 2005, on the 12 year anniversary of B.T. Collin's death. It'll be 25 years this month. We all still miss him.



  • Of Better Men - Geoff Metcalf
  • The Courage of Sam Bird - by B.T. Collins - Reader's Digest
  • The California Viet Nam Veterans Memorial
  • My Friend in Need - by B.T. Collins - The Wall Street Journal
  • Burying Tradition: More People Opt for "Fun" Funerals - The Wall Street Journal
  • B.T. Collins Captain Hook Scholarship - Santa Clara University
  • Joseph Galloway's Speech at the Wall
  • B.T. Collins: A Simple Truth by Assemblyman Jim Nielsen
  • He Always Remembered Your Birthday
  • If B.T. Were Here, He'd Call Me a Candy-Assed Marine and Tell Me To Pull Myself Together


  • I've Never Liked Any Politician More
    Mark Shields
    Washington Post April 3, 1993

    As a Green Beret captain during his second tour in Vietnam, B.T. lost his right arm and right leg to a grenade. He spent 22 months in seven military hospitals. I never heard him complain about the pain that was his daily fate. Instead, he would cancel his schedule to drive hours to comfort and counsel someone he had never met who had just lost a limb.

    Loud, brash, irreverent and funny, B.T. (he was baptized Brien Thomas, named for an uncle killed at Tarawa in 1943) first won press attention - which he candidly and thouroughly enjoyed - for his controversial and successful 1979 leadership of the California Conservation Corps. Appointed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, Collins enlisted high school dropouts for his boot camp, where every recruit was required to rise at 5 a.m., run two miles, work eight hours and take classes three nights a week. He even gave it a slogan: Hard work, low pay, miserable conditions.

    B.T. touched and changed hundreds of lives. One of them, John Banuelos, a reform school graduate, told the Sacramento Bee's John Jacobs, "He taught me how to live. He became and uncle to my children and a brother to me. I have tried to model my life after his."

    A mostly conservative Republican who believed passionately in public service, B.T. was an old fashioned pol who knew all the cops and elevator operators and waitresses and secretaries by their first names. In 1991, when Republican Gov. Pete Wilson appointed Collins to head the California Youth Authority, the ex-Green Beret demanded that the young prisoners put any complaints to him in writing and in English. Aware that some would see this policy as discriminating against the many Spanish-speaking prisoners, B.T. challenged, "I hope the ACLU sues me for depriving these people of their right to be ignorant."

    He practically built the breathtakingly beautiful California Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the state capitol grounds, where, last week. a crowd of 5,000 including Democrat Brown and Republican Wilson, turned out for B.T.'s memorial service. Earlier that morning, 1,000 people had attended a Mass at Blessed Sacramento Cathedral in Sacramento for Collins, who called himself an atheist but who throughout his working life gave 10 percent of his gross income to the Catholic college of Santa Clara from which he graduated.

    Only after constant urging by Gov. Wilson did B.T. run for and win a California assembly seat, defeating the organized right wing to do so. At the memorial service, ex-leatherneck Pete Wilson cried openly and remarked afterward that for such an emotional display, B.T. would have labled him a "candy-ass Marine."

    In a business where "on deep background" and "not for attribution" are the only conditions under which so many timid public figures will even comment on the NCAA basketball tournament, Collins was blunt, candid, quotable and honest. He never trimmed, and he never truckled.

    B.T. dunned me and everybody else on his bulging Rolodex to help WEAVE (Women Escaping a Violent Environment), a center to shelter and counsel battered women. Because he needed 39 pints of blood after his Vietnam wounds, he became the Sacramento Valley blood bank chairman and a regular donor. His charges at the California Conservation Corps were "encouraged" to become donors by their director who told them, "You will give blood because there's no black blood, no white blood, no Mexican-American blood. There's only red blood."

    One day over lunch, B.T. gave me his basic rules: You stand up for your people. You dig your own foxhole. You take the heat. Don't tell your best friend who to marry. Never argue with a cop. Always send handwritten thank-you notes. The best friends you're ever going to make are the ones you don't like in the beginning. The best friend that will never let you down is integrity."

    At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Sacramento, somebody last week left his own medals and a note for B.T.: "You more than anybody made us proud to have worn these."

    B.T. Collins was 52, and when he died he left thousands much better for having known him. The world is a better, more humane and more fun place for his having been here.

    UPDATE
    I won the Sacramento Area 1 Toastmaster's Table Topics Contest last night. The question: "Who is your hero?" My answer - B.T. Collins!

    Here's info about the book

    Outrageous Hero, The B.T. Collins Story

    Washington Post article by Mark Shields from the Santa Clara University archives.

    10/11/2018

    Best Irish Pubs in America

    Who doesn’t love a good Irish pub? There’s just something about that welcoming Irish-inspired décor, a well-pulled pint of fresh Guinness and some of that good old-fashioned Irish craic that makes a visit to a lively Irish pub a great way to spend an evening. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and virtually every other day of the year, we’re rounding up America’s very best. On this post, which I'll be updating, we'll be finding the best irish pubs in America.

    Like pizzerias and Chinese restaurants, it seems like just about every town in America has an Irish-inspired pub of some sort. And if you’ve been to your fair share of them, you’ll know that it’s fairly easy to tell a good one from a bad one. It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is about a pub that makes it welcoming versus one to avoid at all costs, but in our opinion the one thing that makes an Irish pub great is its authenticity.

    "Authenticity" is a tricky concept, but authentic Irish pubs, by our measure, have a good selection of Irish (and non-Irish) beers, whiskies, and other beverages; a solid selection of Irish and American pub fare; and perhaps most importantly, roots. This doesn't necessarily mean they've been around for decades (though some have — in some cases for more than a century), but they somehow capture the spirit of Ireland, whether through the heritage of the owners and bartenders; the history of the building or the interior (some pubs actually import actual bars and furnishings from the old country); the character of the clientele; and, often, the presence of live music.

    So read on to learn which of America’s many Irish pubs are the most authentic, the most welcoming, the most dedicated to serving quality food and drink, and the most, well, Irish. Sláinte!

    1/14/2018

    Let's Go to Ireland for a Krispy Kreme

    American doughnut chain Krispy Kreme has reportedly chosen a site for its first outlet in Ireland, according to Dublin Live. The massive company is understood to have selected Blanchardstown Centre for its first Irish project. Estate agents working for the chain announced it was looking for Irish locations last year, reports Independent.ie. The company, which has its headquarters in North Carolina, was founded way back in 1937. Krispy Kreme has over 1,200 stores across the globe, two thirds of which are outside the United States. If you're looking for a Krispy Kreme in Sacramento or Roseville, we love 'em here.