Niamh Ní Charra (Vocal, Concertina), Tony O Flaherty (Piano), taken from Niamh's 2nd album "Súgach Sámh / Happy Out", released September 2010.
This song is set during the tragic and turbulent years of the Irish Famine, and the subsequent mass exodus to America. While in many songs of this nature the message to friends and family at home is one of hope and invitation, this song, written just a few years after the America Civil War, is a rare example of the flip side of the coin. Irish immigrants, weak and exhausted were recruited as soon as they landed, enticed by promises of food and pay for themselves, and pensions for their families should they be killed. These tactics were highly effective and a large volume of young men joined both sides. Sadly casualties were high and the pensions were rarely if ever paid.
As a footnote, the Indian Buck mentioned in the poignant last verse was a type of maize which was sent in foreign aid from America to Ireland during the famine. Tragically, the Irish had no idea how to cook it and it was often given in its raw form to the starving people, who ended up suffering agonising deaths as a result, their seriously malnourished bodies unable to digest the wheat.
Well it's by the hush, me boys, be still and hear my voice
Come listen to poor Paddy's sad narration
I was by hunger pressed, and in poverty distressed
So I took a thought I'd leave the Irish nation
Well I sold my horse and plough, my little pig and sow
My barren plot of land I soon did part with,
And my sweetheart Brid McGee, I'm afraid I'll never see
For I left her there that morning broken-hearted
Here me boys, heed now my advice
To America don't you be coming,
For there is nothing here but war,
And the thundering cannons roar
And I wish I was back home in dear old Dublin
Well myself and a hundred more, to America sailed o'er
Our fortunes to be made we were a thinking
But when we got to Yankee land, they shoved a gun into our hands
Saying "Paddy, you must go and fight for Lincoln"
General Meagher to us he said, if you get shot or lose your head
Every mother's son of you will get a pension
Well myself I lost me leg, and all I got was a wooden peg,
And by God this is the truth to you I mention
Well I'd think myself in luck, if I were fed on Indian buck
And back home in the country I delight in
By the devil, I do say, it's curse America
For I think I've had enough of your hard fighting