The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #152267   Message #4009135
Posted By: Steve Gardham
16-Sep-19 - 02:03 PM
Thread Name: Mrs. McGraw - origins
Subject: RE: Mrs. McGraw - origins
Teddy O'Gra. Catnach of London, c1830

O come all you sons of Hibernia,
I'll tell you how the world begun,
I'll take you where the wars begun,
And you shall have a share when the victory's won.

O Mrs O'Gra to the captain said,
My son shall be a boatswain's mate,
And on his head place a gold lac'd hat,
Here Teddy my child should you like that.

As mistress O'Gra sat watching on the shore,
For the space of seven long years or more,
Till she spied a ship sailing on the sea,
here blood an ounds philleugh clear the way.

O now Teddy's landed without any legs,
For the loss of them he's gained two wooden pegs,
And after she had give him a kiss or two,
Here Teddy my child it can't be you.

O my son Teddy was tall and slim,
And he had a leg for every shin,
But now he's got no legs at all,
Why the devil didn't you fly from the cannon ball.

O, was you lame, or was you blind,
How came you to leave your two legs behind,
or was it walking across the sea,
You wore your two legs down to your knee.

No I was not lame nor I was not blind,
When I left my two legs far behind,
But it was a fighting on the sea
that I wore my two legs off to my knee.

A mighty was I will proclaim,
Against the king and the queen of Spain
And I will make them rue the day,
They shot my son Teddy's legs away.

What you need to take into account here to put this piece in context is that the British Isles had just been engaged in a long and bloody war and survivors were arriving home in large numbers maimed in some way. It would have numbed the senses to such tragedy, and the street singers could easily get away with skits like this. Even today soldiers arriving home wounded from foreign wars are thrown on the scrap heap and have to rely on charities.

Apart from other less obvious clues to its 'comic' elements, look at the 4th line of verse 3, and the mother's ridiculous responses.

Mick, I was obviously being ironic with my statement 'an attack on those maimed'.

As for it being a warning...well in my opinion it was written after the wars had ended, but I wouldn't disagree on the effect later versions might have produced.