Henry's Songbook

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The Kerry Recruit

  • (Trad)

            With me too rin in yah (2x)
            With me too rin in yourin, in yourin in yah

    About four years ago I was digging the land
    With me brogues on me feet and me spade in me hand
    Says I to meself what a pity to see
    Such a fine strapping lad footin' turf in Tralee

    So I buttered me brogues and shook hands with me spade
    I went off to the fair like a dashing young blade
    I met with a sergeant who asked me to 'list
    Arra sergeant a'gragh stuck the bob in me fist

    And the first thing they gave me it was a red coat
    With a wide strap of leather to tie round me throat
    Then they gave me a queer thing, I asked what was that
    They told me it was a cockade for me hat

    And the next thing they gave me they called it a gun
    With powder and shot and a place for me thumb
    First she spat fire and then she spat smoke
    She gave a great leap and me shoulder near broke

    And the first place they sent me was down to the sea
    On board of a warship bound for the Crimea
    Three sticks in the middle all rolled round with sheet
    Faith she walked through the water without any feet

    When at Balaclava we landed quite sound
    All cold wet and hungry we lay on the ground
    Next morning for action the bugle did call
    And we got a hot breakfast of powder and ball

    We fought at the Alma likewise Inkerman
    But the Russians they whaled us at the Redan
    While scaling the walls there meself lost an eye
    And a big Russian bullet ran off with me thigh

    It was there I lay bleeding all on the cold ground
    Heads legs and arms lay scattered all round
    Says I, If me mam and me claveens were nigh
    They'd bury me dacent and raise a loud cry

    But they called a doctor who soon staunched me blood
    They gave me an elegant leg made of wood
    They gave me a medal and ten pence a day
    So contented with Sheila I'll live on half pay

    (as sung by Hamish Imlach)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1964:] Perhaps because so many Irishmen were recruited to fight in England's wars, the song of the recruit who is talked into joining the army by the recruiting sergeant is a popular one in Irish folk tradition. [This is] one of the best known of these, apparently dating from the period of the Crimean War. (Reprint Sing Out 6, 326)

  • [1967:] [...] the whole fund of English songs about soldiering is neither large nor generally impressive. [...] For biting comment on military matters, one must look to Ireland and such splendid compositions as [this]. (Lloyd, England 235)

  • [1969:] This song illustrates another way out for the struggling Irish farm labourers. Having served their purpose in the Army the survivors were given back to their country, often wounded or crippled, with no prospect but to join the begging fraternity. (Notes 'Ian Campbell and The Ian Campbell Folk Group')

  • [1973:] Nowadays it is fashionable for Irish and blacks and other prosecuted minorities to scorn 'stage Irishmen' and 'stage nigger' and 'yiddisher' postures as unworthy of their ethnic dignity and this is understandable. But like so many things which have ended up with a reactionary content, the naivety of the unindustrialised man confronted with the complexities of industrial culture was originally progressive, the holy innnocence of the child unimpressed with the emperor's new clothes - or, as here, with the finery of his soldiers and their gallant exploits. The Kerry Recruit is one of the finest examples of this, underlining the horrors of war by its refusal to take for granted all the palaver of cockades and parades and surgeons and pensions, a veritable Irish Schweik [sic!]. Like many another fine Irish song, it can be heard all over England, brought by migrant workers over for the potato harvest or building the canals and (most recently) the motorways. (Dallas, Wars 157)

  • [1976:] Ich habe diese Version von Joe Heany [sic!] aus Irland, dem wohl besten Sänger der gälischen Landschaft Connemara. In der viktorianischen Zeit waren viele junge Iren durch Armut dazu gezwungen, in die britische Armee zu gehen (das gibt es auch heute noch!). Mehr als 40 % der Soldaten waren damals Iren. Dieses Lied stammt aus dem Krim-Krieg, als Franzosen und Briten wegen der Türkei gegen Rußland kämpften. (Notes Hamish Imlach, 'Scottish Sabbath')

Quelle: Ireland

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aktualisiert am 25.08.2000