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Lyr Req: The Irish Fire Brigade (Jay Hickory Wood)

John in Brisbane 26 Jan 98 - 08:38 PM
Frank from Newfoundland 31 Jan 98 - 09:07 PM
GUEST 01 May 00 - 06:44 PM
Jim Dixon 27 Dec 07 - 08:47 PM
GUEST,Ron H 29 Aug 15 - 12:33 AM
GUEST,leeneia 29 Aug 15 - 12:17 PM
Noreen 29 Aug 15 - 04:50 PM
GUEST 30 Aug 15 - 10:49 AM
GUEST,Trish 20 Feb 16 - 02:34 PM
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Subject: Lyrics Req - Irish Fire Brigade
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 26 Jan 98 - 08:38 PM

Recently met a button accordion player in his 80's on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, who knew snippets of a poem/ditty called The Irish Fire Brigade. He wasn't sure whether there was originally a tune involved.

The story goes something like ... A call from Mrs Murphy whose house is on fire ... they take 3 hours to stoke up the steam boiler on the fire engine ... they eventually wash Mrs Murphy away while the house burns down.

I strongly suspect that this is not traditional and may have originated in Tin Pan Alley.

Any help please?

Regards John

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Subject: RE: Lyrics Req - Irish Fire Brigade
From: Frank from Newfoundland
Date: 31 Jan 98 - 09:07 PM

Hi John, I think You may be right about that Fire Brigade being a Tin Pan Alley Song.I have a collection of Old Irish Songs and I never heard of It. In the meantime I will have a look around for It.You never can tell,It may be out there somewhere. All the best. Frank Maher

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Subject: RE: Lyrics Req - Irish Fire Brigade
Date: 01 May 00 - 06:44 PM

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Subject: Lyr Add: THE IRISH FIRE BRI (Jay Hickory Wood)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 27 Dec 07 - 08:47 PM

Found at

By Jay Hickory Wood

'Twas a stormy winter evenin' at the back-end of the year.
We was sittin' at the station, smokin' pipes and drinkin' beer,
When a telephonic message came along the private wire
That the Fire Brigade was wanted, for the village was on fire.

So we begged a box of matches, and the engine fires we lit,
And we had a glass of whiskey when the water boiled a bit.
We borrowed Mickey's ould blind horse, that didn't shy at light,
And, well within three hours, we'd started out the flames to fight.

Now, Mickey's was an ouldish horse, and, sure, he'd quite forgot
The way a horse should gallop, and he'd nivver larnt to trot.
He had a funny gait wid him, an action all his own.
'Twas somethin' betune walkin' slow, and lavin' it alone.

That's how he wint on level ground but, when he had to climb,
Of course, we all got out to help the craythur ivery time.
We used to tie him on behind when goin' down a hill
For fear we overtook him. He was best at standin' still.

That's why, at fires, we always sent a lad in front to say
They might expect us any time, for we was on the way.
We hadn't gone so far before we shouted out, "Bedad!
It's Mrs. Dooley's shanty, and the chimney's smokin' bad."

And, Mrs. Dooley, dacent soul, was standin' at the door.
We swore we'd save the woman's life, if we could do no more.
We didn't go inside, for fear the smoke would make us cough,
But we pumped on Mrs. Dooley till we'd pumped the water off.

Then Mrs. Dooley disappeared. She hasn't since been found,
And some there are who'll tell you they belave that she was drowned;
But we played upon her shanty till we'd washed it clane away,
And, where the pigsty used to be, there stands a lake this day.

We called on Pat O'Rafferty, and found the boy in bed,
So we woke him up and tould him he was just as good as dead;
And he climbed out of the windy, though he hadn't much to wear,
And then shinned down the water-spout, while we came down the stair.

By this, the population was awake, and shoutin' mad,
And throwin' out of windies ivery blessed thing they had.
'Twas risky work for us below, but, with undaunted heart,
We picked 'em up, and hid 'em safe insoide the salvage-cart.

There were people sittin' on the roofs of ivery house in town,
And so we threw up ropes to them, and then we pulled 'em down.
We dived into their cellars. We were boys that knew no fear,
And we saved ten jars of whiskey and a cask of bitter beer.

Then, when we reached the lawyer's house, he asked us for a match
Bekase he was insured, and was afraid it mightn't catch;
But he wouldn't stand us anythin', and so we hung about
Until he'd got it well alight, and then we blew it out.

Then we tried the "Pig and Whistle," though it hadn't got alight,
But we went inside the tap-room, to be there in case it might.
They said there was no danger, but we thought, at any rate,
As precautionary measure, we would play upon the slate.

So, when we'd washed the slate quite clean, and wiped off all the score,
We spent the night in drinkin' there and runnin' up some more.
And, when the score we're runnin' now has got a little higher,
We'll bring the engine round again, and have another fire.

[Google Book Search indicates that the same poem is to be found in "Recitations: Comic & Otherwise" By Jay Hickory Wood, 1901.]

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Irish Fire Brigade (Jay Hickory Wood)
From: GUEST,Ron H
Date: 29 Aug 15 - 12:33 AM

So delighted to find this. When I was a kid on a farm, my family employed a racontuer and this was one of the many poems he recited.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Irish Fire Brigade (Jay Hickory Wood)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 29 Aug 15 - 12:17 PM

That's an interesting piece, but I'm not sure what use a modern entertainer would have for it.

I have read that early firefighters were viewed with contempt, and it was believed that if they came to your house to put out a fire, they would steal valuable things they came across. That could have been true, I suppose, or at least true of some of them.

In 2009, the house next door to me had a bad fire. It was an old, dried up place, and it went up like tinder. The fire department came, and men suited up and went into that inferno, looking for the two residents. (They were not home, thank God.)

The next day I sent the Chief a letter, thanking the men for their courage in doing that. (I hope the Chief passed it on.) My point is, that after people see and read of firefighters doing things like that, a poem like this old one doesn't sit too well.

But if you want to be comical and historical and use the piece, the Fire Brigade doesn't need to be Irish. The stereotype would fit bygone firefighters of any nationality.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Irish Fire Brigade (Jay Hickory Wood)
From: Noreen
Date: 29 Aug 15 - 04:50 PM

Song is of its time, and best left there.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Irish Fire Brigade (Jay Hickory Wood)
Date: 30 Aug 15 - 10:49 AM

Interesting enough no objections to the outright paddywhackery of the piece, but rather a defence of firefighters. Funny old world.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Irish Fire Brigade (Jay Hickory Wood)
From: GUEST,Trish
Date: 20 Feb 16 - 02:34 PM

Wow! I thought that this monologue was lost for all time!! I am very much a senior citizen and this used to gecone of my party pieces when I was 6 or 7 years old. It had been adapted to " The Reddish Fire Brigade" as my dad was a fireman there around rhe time of WW11 and, with name changes to suit the other serving personnel, it was a huge success.

O.k. It's completely out of date now but it is still good for a chuckle....

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