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McAlpine’s Crew
Michael Falsey
Seafield, Quilty
Recorded in Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie's home outside Miltown Malbay, April 2007

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Michael Falsey and Junior Crehan

You winsome blades, and comely maids, who planned to emigrate.
On England’s soil to work and toil, and wealth accumulate.
You may not know, before you go, what lies in store for you;
So take my advice, and think twice ere you join McAlpine’s Crew.

From Dun Laoghaire quay, I sailed away, all in the month of June.
The boat she sped, and Hollyhead, came in my view quiet soon.
To Camden town I then went down, employment to pursue.
To carry bricks and mortar mix all in McAlpine’s Crew.

Some digs to find, my course did wind, ere night time it drew near,
But as I read, each notice said, no culchies wanted here!
How could they know, that to Mayo, I had lately bid adieu,
And that in the crown, of high renown, I had joined McAlpine’s Crew.

Some time had passed, and then at last, a Cockney took me in.
The grub was bad but I was glad, so I did not raise a din.
The meat was tough, but good enough, for lads like me and you,
Who had sailed from home, and crossed the foam, to join McAlpine’s Crew.

In hail and snow to work I’d go, all the days that God did send.
To earn a bob, and keep my job, on which I did depend.
Until at length, it broke my strength, bad health did follow too.
A lonely man, lying in a san [sanatorium], far from McAlpine’s Crew.

A year has passed, and now at last, I am back home once more.
Thank God I’m well, the truth to tell, and much wiser than before.
Oh Camden town, on you I frown, no wonder that I do.
So in God’s green land, I’ll take my stand, and forget McAlpine’s Crew.


Michael Falsey talks to Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie about ‘McAlpine’s Crew’

Michael Falsey talks to Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie about Pádraig O’Duffy, composer of ‘McAlpine’s Crew’

“A fairly recent addition to the small repertoire of songs about navvies. The late Frank Harte wrote:

‘This song was written by Seamus Duffy who comes from Aghamore, near Ballyhaunis in County Mayo. Seamus was a schoolteacher in his native parish, and while he himself was not forced to emigrate and work on the building sites and the farms in England, he saw at first hand the detrimental effects of emigration on his own community and amongst his close neighbours. He saw them plant the potatoes and cut the turf before they left, and he listened to them as they returned home for the few days at Christmas and recorded the stories they had to tell of their experiences abroad, both good and bad. He heard them tell of the signs they saw in the windows of some boarding houses, 'No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish', or of how they were mistreated on the building sites and expected to work in all kinds of weather without proper protection, and ultimately he saw some of them return home after years of neglect just to end their days in a tuberculosis sanatorium. He told me that he wrote the song about thirty years ago in less than an hour.’”

There’s Gangs of them Digging, CD and booklet, Daisy Label, 2005.
Jim Carroll

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