The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #40584   Message #3940777
Posted By: Thompson
01-Aug-18 - 06:06 AM
Thread Name: The Mero (explanation wanted)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
Is it a song about the war between North-Ireland and the Republic?

When was this war? I must have missed it.

Here are the lyrics; it's a nostalgic song that kind of starts as a skipping rhyme and goes on to cite cultural references from the city ("longers" are trousers worn by adolescence as opposed to the shorts little boys wore; "langers" means drunk, for instance). A "Stater" was a supporter of the Free State, the compromise government of the 1920s; a "Tan" was a Black-and-Tan, a member of a British paramilitary army remembered for its atrocities during the War of Independence in the early 1920s. A fancy man is a married woman's lover. Haffeners were Hafner's sausages. Jacob's was a biscuit factory and one of the sites occupied by the rebels during the Easter Rising of 1916. On the town means prostitution. Transport Union was James Connolly's Irish Transport & General Workers' Union; a brown nose suggests that you're licking the arse of the management. Brendan Behan was a Dublin writer who wrote in Irish and in English; póg mo thón means "kiss my arse". Ginger Man is a reference to a book about post-WWII Dublin by JP Donleavy. A tanner, sixpence in old money, was the price of a cinema ticket in the 1950s or 1960s, the era referenced by the song. Confo money is "confirmation money" - the tips given to a child by relatives and family friends at the time of Confirmation into the Catholic Church aged around 12; to have your Confo money (or worse, your Communion money) saved was jokingly considered the sign of an over-thrifty person. Con Martin was a GAA football star. The phrasing "We all went up to the Mero" references a song about Monto, the prostitution district of 1900s Dublin, but contrasts it with the innocence of the 1950s. The Cisco Kid was a western hero in films, radio serials and later TV shows. Hairy Lemon was another of the many Dublin "characters" who wandered the streets annoying the bourgeoisie at the time. I don't know what a Primo is; scapulars were religious symbols worn around the neck to show your commitment to a particular Catholic group. The Black Babies were starving African babies supposedly saved from hunger and introduced to religion and education by Irish children giving their halfpennies (pronounced hayp'nies) to the Catholic Church as well as collecting huge amounts of the silver paper that surrounded chocolate bars and rolling it into giant balls to give to the Church, which monetised it in some mysterious way. In the Irish worldview of the time such African politicians as Patrice Lumumba were to the credit of Ireland because they had supposedly been "black babies" educated and westernised in mission schools. Dolly Fossett's was a brothel. Alfie Byrne was a Lord Mayor of Dublin and beloved character (featured in a James Joyce story written for Joyce's grandson, The Cat and the Devil). Fasting before Communion proved you were holy. Olivia de Havilland was a ladylike sex goddess of the silver screen. Mandrake the Magician was a newspaper strip cartoon syndicated all over the anglophone world. Nelson's Pillar was the centre of Dublin - a 134-foot-tall pillar with a statue of Horatio Nelson on the top, erected by the grateful capitalists of Dublin and hated as a symbol of imperialism by Dublin socialists. In the idealistic nostalgia of the song, quarrels were solved by a fist fight followed by a drink, whereas nowadays drug families are wiping each other out with guns. The guardian angel was a Catholic concept of the time which suggested that every human had a specific angel whose job was to mind them and keep them safe - a children's prayer has the lines "Garda na n-aingeal ós mo chionn, Dia romhainn, agus Dia liom" - a guard of angels over my head, God before us and God with me. The "holy hour" was a two-hour break in the middle of the day when pubs were shut by law, originally designed to stop all-day drinking. A large one is a double whiskey. A plenary indulgence is a concept whereby Catholics who performed particular rites of prayer could win time off for good behaviour for themselves or others from Purgatory, a kind of way-station of Hell before admission to Heaven. A baby Power is a tiny bottle of Power's Gold Label whiskey (the corked bottles were often used to bring milk to school once they had been emptied of whiskey).

The Mero
By Pete St John

Somebody`s under the bed, whoever can it be?
I feel so very nervous, I call for Joanee
Joanee lights the candle but there’s nobody there
He Hi, Diddeleedai and out goes she

Skipping rope still turning, children at their play
In and out of Clarendon Street, in and out to pray
I haven’t prayed for twenty years or sung a happy song
Since praying went with innocence and the devil played along

And we all went up to the Mero; hey there, who’s your man?
It’s only Johnny Forty Coats, sure he’s a desperate man
Bang Bang shoots the buses with his golden key
He Hi, Diddeleedai and out goes she

Me father was a Stater and me mother loved a Tan
She loved her Haffenner’s sausages and her soldier fancy man
Our Nora’s up in Jacobs, and Mary’s on the town
And I joined the Transport Union when they said me nose was brown

And we all went up to the Mero; hey there, who’s your man
It’s Brendan Behan out walking, sure he’s the ginger man
A fainne up his arse hole and he’s shouting póg-mo-hone
Do you think you’re bleedin’ Mandrake, why don’t ya write a poem

I’ve a tanner for the Mero and me Confo money’s hid
If Mary’s in the family way, she can blame the Cisco Kid
I’ll be langers in the morning, me longers need a patch
Ah, Jesus – there’s Con Martin, I hope ya won the match

Me uncle had a wolfhound that never had to pee
But Hairy Lemon snatched it down on Eden Quay
Now I have me Primo and me Scapulars of Blue
For helping the black babies and Dolly Fossett too

And we all went up to the Mero; hey there, who’s your man
It’s Alfie Byrne out walking, now there’s a decent man
Communion every morning, here’s to the fastin spit
Olivia De Havilland has a freckle on her tit

It’s true that Dublin’s changing since the pillar was blown down
By the winds of violence that are buggerin’ up the town
We used to solve a difference with a diggin’ match and jar
But now they’re all playin’ Bang Bang, that’s goin’ too bleedin’ far

So we’ll all go up to the Mero; hey there, who’s your man
It’s only me Guardian Angel, get a large one for yer man
There’s no use bleedin` rushin’, sure now’s the holy hour
A plenary indulgence and another baby-power