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Lyr Req: My Son in Americay

15 Aug 97 - 11:08 PM (#10517)
Subject: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: dennis

looking for the lyrics to a song about a mother in Ireland writing a letter to her son in the usa. don meade are you out there?


15 Aug 97 - 11:36 PM (#10524)
Subject: RE: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: Alex

Could it be "Kilkelly, Ireland" based on a series of letters, that you are looking for?


16 Aug 97 - 01:36 AM (#10533)
Subject: RE: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: BK

Kilkelly sounds like a possible fit, but in it the letters are from the father; I wonder if there is another song, from the mother's point of view...? There is the ballad, I think by Tommy Makem, about ireland's four provinces, in which they are allegorically referred to as "four strong sons," with Ireland being the mother..... prob not much help....?

cheers, BK


17 Aug 97 - 07:59 PM (#10590)
Subject: RE: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: Rosie

BK, The full lyrics to the song you referred to is in the DIGITAL TRADITIONS data base and it is called "Four Green Fields". It's no help to Dennis, though :-( Bobby O'Brien, can you help????? Regards, Rosie


18 Aug 97 - 01:04 AM (#10615)
Subject: RE: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: Teru

Dennis:

The song may be "Sprig of Irish Heather" which begins with "An Irish mother writing to her son so far away...". I don't know where HER SON lives. I once requested this song in this forum, and Bobby posted the lyrics.

I hope this message helps you.

Regards


18 Aug 97 - 07:00 AM (#10634)
Subject: RE: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: dick greenhaus

Actually, there's a rather lengthy tradition dealing with snail-mail between Ireland and the US. I'll try to dig up some examples and include them in the October edition of the DT,


18 Aug 97 - 06:31 PM (#10709)
Subject: RE: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: alison

Hi

Look up a sprig of Irish heather in the missing thread link.

Slainte

Alison


23 Aug 97 - 11:38 PM (#11101)
Subject: RE: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: dennis

Thanks for all your help but those are not the ones. the one i'm looking for is a comical story about a letter who writes a letter to her son in america and addresses the envelope "to my son in amerikay" I'll keep trying. keep singing dennis


31 Aug 97 - 07:09 PM (#11593)
Subject: RE: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: dennis

any help out there?


01 Sep 97 - 12:27 PM (#11619)
Subject: RE: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: Martin Ryan

Thought I had submitted this to DT as "My Son in America" I'll stick a copy here when I get a chance.

Regards


01 Sep 97 - 04:37 PM (#11628)
Subject: RE: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: Martin Ryan

I did! I did! It's there as "My son in Amerikay".

Regards


19 Sep 97 - 07:37 PM (#12592)
Subject: RE: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: dennis

Martin, I'm looking for it in DT but it is not listed. Lyrics, PLEEEESE? dennis


22 Sep 97 - 11:30 AM (#12815)
Subject: RE: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: Martin Ryan

Dennis

Search on "in the county Mayo"! Don't ask me why it woun't come up on "My Son in Amerikay", which is the title!

Regards


22 Sep 97 - 11:43 AM (#12816)
Subject: RE: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: dick greenhaus

Martin- Maybe because you sent it in as "My Son in Americay", with a c and not a k. Titles are a snare and a delusion. you'd do better to search for [My son in]


23 Sep 97 - 06:33 AM (#12943)
Subject: RE: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: Martin Ryan

Dick

Maybe!

Regards


29 May 99 - 10:40 AM (#82634)
Subject: My son in Americay /Amerikay
From: Philippa

The DT doesn't note the author of the song, Alf MacLochlainn. He was a librarian in Dublin, then Galway - probably retired now. County Derry source singer Eddie Butcher recorded the song and didn't know where he got it from, so the folklorists were confounded when they learned its authorship. I think the story is that someone who got the song from Eddie sang it at a party and Alf was present and surprised to hear his song passing into the tradition.


30 May 99 - 09:03 AM (#82859)
Subject: RE: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: John Moulden

In the interests of restricting myths to their proper place (that of informing political activity) let me clarify Alf MacLochlainn and Eddie Butcher and the folklorist's view of "My son in Amerikay."

Hugh Shields describes the episode and its sequels in a slighly arch style in a paragraph in an article "Printed Aids to Folk Singing 1700-1900" in Mary Daly and David Dickson (eds) The Origins of Popular Literacy in Ireland: Language change and Educational Development 1700 - 1920 (Dublin, published jointly by the Depts of Modern History at Trinity College and University College, 1990.) [My explanations. JM]

"In the summer of 1968 a Dublin Librarian A sang a comic song in traditional style, a song of his own making, in my house in Dublin when a traditional singer E from Co Derry was staying with me. E was greatly taken with the song and wanted to learn it; A resisted blandishment as though exercising rights of ownership. The conversation moved on and the song was temporarily forgotten. I met another Dublin librarian P known for the hand printing of ephemera, whom I asked to get and print the song text. Which was done. [and published in Dublin by St Sepulchre's Press] I sent a copy to E which included comically amibuous indication of an air, ["To the air of the Rocks of Knockanure" - Rocks of Bawn? Valley of Knockanure?] and the next year I recorded the song from him sung very much in his customary style. When E became so well known that 'they' came looking for him form over the water, A's song found its way onto a record of E's singing, the label of which proclaimed 'all tracks traditional'. The record was published in 1976 from tapes made about a year earlier." ["I once was a Daysman" Free Reed FRR003]

So the whole story is really an "insider" folklorist's joke about "outsider folklorists. Or is it really a story which reduces the concept of traditionality to its proper absurdity?

John Moulden


01 Jun 99 - 04:33 AM (#83166)
Subject: RE: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: Wolfgang

I enjoyed reading this paragraph, John

Wolfgang


13 Apr 05 - 07:04 PM (#1460468)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: GUEST,Alf MacLochlainn

I wrote this song, based on a Pat-and-Mike joke told to me by a young jesuit from a jesuit college in NY, who had been introduced to me by a mutual friend, Dr. Maurice O'Connell I sang it at a party in the home of Hugh Shields, a well-known authority on folksong and a diligent collector, particularly well-known for his work on the repertoire of his principal informant, Eddie Butcher. Eddie was present at that party and when, later, a bibliographical friend of mine and Hugh's, MPPollard, was producing broadsides on an antigue printing press, she included a printing of my song in the broadside manner. Hugh gave Eddie a copy of this printed broadside and I was very flattered that Eddie chose to add it to his repertoire, even though he did not use the same air as I did. On the original broadside the song is described as 'To the air of The Rocks of Knockanure.' That is to say, half of the lines are to the air of lines in the well-known The rocks of bawn, and the other half are to lines from another well-known Irish ballad, The Valley of Knockanure.
Other singers copied the song from Eddie's published recording notably Andy Irvine and his group, using it in recording and at concerts, making a dog's dinner of some of the lines and copying Eddie's air. The song quickly grew legs and we have had the embarassing yet flattering experience of having it sung by visitors to private song-fests in our own home by people who did not know that their host for the night had composed it. Of course I never got a cent in royalties but their anren't many people can boast that they have written a song which has passed into the purest folk-tradition of anonymity and change. (Come to think of it, I did get a small fee from Beacon Press, Boston, when My Son ... was included in Christopher Cahill's Gather round me: the best of Irish popular poetry (2004).)


13 Apr 05 - 07:19 PM (#1460484)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: Louie Roy

It isn't A Letter From Home To My Dearest Son that you are looking for?


13 Apr 05 - 09:27 PM (#1460568)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

My Son in Americay" is in the DT, song ID 4163, not credited as noted above. File name "SONAMERK"
The song was not posted in a thread, either with 'c' or 'k'

Here is another, from the "Osgood Township Historical Society Newsletter." It could be the basis of another song.

A letter from Home- Dublin, Ireland to Ottawa, Canada

Dear Son:
Just a few lines to let you know I'm still alive. I'm writing this letter slowly because I know you can't read fast.
You won't know the house when you get home - we have moved.
About your father - he has a lovely new job. He has 500 men under him. He cuts the grass at the cemetery.
There was a washing machine at the new house when we moved in but it doesn't work too good. Last week I put in 14 shirts, pulled the chain, and I haven't seen the shirts since.
Your sister Mary had a baby this morning but I haven't found out if it's a boy or a girl, so I don't know if you're an aunt or an uncle.
Your uncle Patrick drowned last week in a vat of whisky in the Dublin Brewery. Some of his workmates tried to save him, but he fought them off bravely. They cremated him and it took three days to put out the fire.
I went to the doctor on Thursday and your father went with me. The doctor put a small tube in my mouth and told me not to talk for ten minutes. Your father offered to buy it from him.
It only rained twice this week, once for three days and once for four days. Monday was so windy, one of the chickens laid the same egg four times.
We had a letter from the undertaker. He said if the last payment on your grandmother's plot wasn't paid in seven days, up she comes.

Your loving mother
XXX
P. S. I was going to send you five pounds but I had already sealed the envelope.

Letter from Home


13 Apr 05 - 11:34 PM (#1460652)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: a mother's letter to her son in the u
From: Bev and Jerry

We learned this song in a pub in County Clare in 1990. It was sung by a man from Perth, Austaralia who was born in Dublin. We've been singing it ever since but we had no idea where it came from. Thanks, Alf, for writing it and for posting here so we would know whom to credit when we sing it.

Bev and Jerry


14 Apr 05 - 11:14 AM (#1461095)
Subject: Lyr Add: MY SON IN AMERICAY
From: ossonflags

There you go Dennis!

MY SON IN AMERICAY

A long time ago in the county Mayo, this story it first began,
Before emigration was finally cured by the First Economical Plan.
A brave young lad had to leave his home and travel across the sea,
But he got well paid in the building trade when he got to Americay.

He got on very well but he sent nothing home and his mother began to think
That he'd run away with a blonde, or worse, he'd spent all his money on drink!
So she wrote him a letter and folded it up and sent it on its way
And on the cover she clearly wrote, "To my son in Americay."

Well, the postman collected this letter she wrote and he drove in his van to Cork
Where he placed it on a liner at Cobh which landed it then in New York.
Sure there was the whiskey and everything else - the mailbags lay on the quay,
And among the rest was this letter addressed "To my son in Americay."

Well, American postmen, I needn't relate, they are rather like me and you,
And when they came to this letter at last, sure they didn't know what to do.
Well, they looked up all the official lists, ah, but those had nothing to say.
There was no directory could help them to find her son in Americay!

Well, it hung round the office for years and years and it gave all the boys a laugh,
Until at length sure it got some use - in the training of the staff.
And to every new postman that came on the job it was shown as Example Three
As "Insufficiently addressed to 'Me Son in Americay'"!

Now the son he got older and wiser too and at last to himself he said,
"How are things going with me mother at home? Now is she alive or dead?"
So he walked round the block to the GPO, there he stood with his cap in his hand.
"Well, be any chance would there be a letter for me from me Mother in Ireland?"

"Oh, Yes! Kind sir - and here it is - we've been waiting for you for years!
We knew that someday someone would come from Cork or old Donegal
Sure its two hundred million are living here in the whole of the USA (??)
But for Mother in Ireland, at last we have found - her Son in Americay!"


15 Nov 12 - 12:46 PM (#3436959)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Son in Americay
From: GUEST

I was at Crusheen singers club last night.

When Colm Mac Lochlainn said I'll sing my father's song.... I didn't realise that he meant his father wrote it.

All I can say is he did the song proud!!!!


16 Nov 12 - 05:42 AM (#3437325)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Son in Americay
From: GUEST,hullygully(might join)

was at a concert at hulltruck last night and a big fat old bloke sang this......he want bad..does anyone know who he may be?


31 Dec 18 - 02:13 PM (#3969095)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Son in Americay
From: keberoxu

Alf MacLochlainn, the author of this song lyric, has died.
The news of his death has been posted by his daughter
to a Mudcat thread about his widow, Fionnuala MacLochlainn.
No exact date was disclosed,
only the general information
that Alf MacLochlainn died December 2018.


31 Dec 18 - 02:36 PM (#3969108)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Son in Americay
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan

Ha! I see I’ve posted a slightly different version of my story on the Obit: thread!

Regards


09 Jan 19 - 07:24 PM (#3970856)
Subject: Lyr Add: MY SON IN AMERIKAY (from Patrick Street)
From: Jim Dixon

You can hear this on YouTube. I have boldfaced the words that are different from those posted by ossonflags above. As far as meaning goes, the differences are insignificant, but in some cases they improve the rhyme.


MY SON IN AMERIKAY
As recorded by Patrick Street on “Live from Patrick Street” (2006)

A long time ago in the county Mayo, me story it first began,
Before this country was finally cured by the First Economical Plan.
A brave young man had to leave his home and sail far over the sea,
But he got well paid in the job and he stayed on the shores of Amerikay.

He got on very well but he sent nothing home and his mother began to think
That maybe he'd run away with a blonde, or was spending his money on drink.
She wrote him a letter inquiring the news and sent it straight away,
And upon the cover she carefully wrote: "To me son in Amerikay."

Well, the postman collected the letter she wrote and he drove in his van to Cork
Where he placed it upon a liner in Cobh that landed in New York.
And there was the whiskey and everything else; the mailbags lay on the quay,
And among the rest was a letter addressed: "To me son in Amerikay."

Ah, American postmen, I needn't relate, they are rather like me and you,
And when at last to this letter they came, they didn't know what to do.
They looked up all the official lists, but these had nothing to say.
There was no directory could help them to find her son in Amerikay.

And, it lay round the office for years and years, and it gave all the boys a laugh,
Until at length it found some use in training of the staff.
To every new postman who came on the job, it was shown as Example A:
Oh,
"Insufficiently addressed: ‘To me son in Amerikay.’”

Well, the son he got older and wiser too, and at last to himself he said:
"Oh, how are things going with me mother at home? Or is she alive or dead?"
He walked round the block to the GPO, where he stood with his cap in his hand.
"By any chance would there be a letter for me from me mother in Ireland?"

"Oh, yes, kind sir, and here it is; we've been waiting for you to call.
We knew someone someday would come from Cork or old Donegal,
From the two hundred million that’s living now in the whole of the USA.
For a mother in Ireland, at last we have found a son in Amerikay."