b Papa Dog's Blog: December 2006

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Irish Rovie

Baby Dog’s new favourite song (as of the last couple weeks) is The Irish Rover. That’s one I’ve sung to her now and again since she was very very small, but which she never seemed to latch onto until now. When Baby Dog latches on to a song, though, she latches firmly. This song is now required every time I put her down for bedtime or naptime. It figures on the Napster playlist at every meal (the version she knows is the one by The Pogues and The Dubliners). It’s part of every car trip and every neighbourhood walk. For those who don’t know the song, it’s a very spirited Irish sing-a-long, a shaggy dog story about the strange voyage of a strange ship with a strange crew and a stranger cargo. It’s hardly a lullaby, but that’s Baby Dog for you.

The reason I’m moved to post about it now is this: since the song’s renaissance in her playlist, she’s enjoyed taking part in the singing. Each verse ends with the phrase “The Irish Rover!” I’ll pause at that part, and she’ll sing it out – pronouncing it “The Irish Rovie,” true, but that’s the way her ares sound now. Anyway, at bedtime last night, Baby Dog sang along with me for the entire song – all five verses. I knew she could fill in blanks if I paused in the song, but I never realised she had the whole thing memorized. And it’s no simple stuff, either. Check out the lyrics:

On the Fourth of July, 1806
We set sail from the sweet cove of Cork
We were sailing away with a cargo of bricks
For the Grand City Hall in New York
'Twas a wonderful craft
She was rigged fore and aft
And oh, how the wild wind drove her
She stood several blasts
She had twenty seven masts
And they called her The Irish Rover

We had one million bags of the best Sligo rags
We had two million barrels of stone
We had three million sides of old blind horses hides
We had four million barrels of bones
We had five million hogs
And six million dogs
Seven million barrels of porter
We had eight million bails of old nanny-goats' tails
In the hold of the Irish Rover

There was awl Mickey Coote
Who played hard on his flute
When the ladies lined up for a set
He was tootin' with skill
For each sparkling quadrille
Though the dancers were fluther'd and bet
With his smart witty talk
He was cock of the walk
And he rolled the dames under and over
They all knew at a glance
When he took up his stance
That he sailed in The Irish Rover

There was Barney McGee
From the banks of the Lee
There was Hogan from County Tyrone
There was Johnny McGurk
Who was scared stiff of work
And a man from Westmeath called Malone
There was Slugger O'Toole
Who was drunk as a rule
And Fighting Bill Treacy from Dover
And your man, Mick MacCann
From the banks of the Bann
Was the skipper of the Irish Rover

We had sailed seven years
When the measles broke out
And the ship lost its way in the fog
And that whale of a crew
Was reduced down to two
Just myself and the Captain's old dog
Then the ship struck a rock
Oh Lord! what a shock
The bulkhead was turned right over
Turned nine times around
And the poor old dog was drowned
And the last of The Irish Rover

I’m compelled to point out in the spirit of full disclosure that Baby Dog’s renderings of many of these lines are best classed as approximate, but she’s for the most part very close. It’s no doubt a handicap that practically the only words in the whole thing that have a concrete meaning for her are “dog,” “goat,” and “horse” (for all of which she supplies appropriate sound effects when I sing the song otherwise unaccompanied). And besides – I haven’t any more clue than she does what “fluther’d and bet” means, and she pronounces it at least as well as I do.