After recently hearing somebody sing one of blind Zozimus' songs The Finding of Moses (The singer was Norman at the Open Door who had learned it from Frank Harte), I thought I might retaliate another night with The Twang Man. However the necessary accent is only achievable by those who grew up in a smoky pub down by the Liffeyside so I may pass on this one.
Surprisingly the lyrics aren't in the DT although Aidan Crossey (né Derrymacash) has posted a useful précis here Story behind 'The Twang Man' . After listening to recordings of Dominic Behan and of Ronnie Drew this effort is the best I can come up with, but any corrections are welcome. Ronnie Drew sings a fourth verse to Dominic Behan's three but otherwise the versions are similar. I'll leave the full explanation of the words to better qualified experts, apart from noting that Seamus Ennis (I think it was him) said that in all his life he'd only once been asked the meaning of the phrase "playing billy in the bowl" by a sweet young American lassie to whom he'd suggested it had something to do with beachcombing.
The Twang Man
Composed by Zozimus (Michael Moran) 1794-1846
Come listen to my story, its about a nice young man,
When the militia wasn't wanting him he dealt in hawking twang,
He loved a lovely maiden, as fair as any miss,
She kept a treacle depot on one side of the Carlisle Bridge.
Another one came courting her; his name it was Mickey Baggs,
He was a commercial traveller, he dealt in bones and rags.
He took her out to Sandymount for to see the waters roll,
He won the heart of the twang man's girl playing billy in the bowl.
But when the twang man heard of this he flew into a terrible rage,
He swore by the contents of his twang cart on him he'd have revenge,
He lay in wait by James Gate and when poor Baggs came up
With his twang knife he took the life of the poor old gather-em-up.
Now you'll have heard my story and I hope youse 'll be good men,
And not go chasing a twang man's mot or any old hen,
For she'll leave you without a brass farthing not even an old pack of rags,
And that's the end of the story and poor old Mickey Baggs.
twang - a hard toffee
mot - sweetheart or girlfriend