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Jim Carroll Origins: 'Browned Off' (Ewan MacColl) (18) RE: Origins: 'Browned Off' (Ewan MacColl) 26 May 20


Peggy calculated that Ewan had forgotten nearly as many of the songs he never wrote down than he left behind

One he did that doesn't get sung nowadays

E9 THE GRAVEDIGGER'S SONG                
(1965)

'About a hundred gravediggers at Mount Jerome's and two other Dublin graveyards are to go on strike from finishing time today. Pickets will be placed on Monday. The dispute has arisen from a claim for another week's holiday a year.' (The Guardian, June 12, 1965:
Jim

tune: traditional Irish ('The Kerry Recruit)
new words and trad arr.: Ewan Maccoll

O, come all you gravediggers in Erin's green isle,
Put down your owld spades, boys, and rest for awhile;
Sit down on a headstone and listen to me,
While I sing of the wrongs done in this cemetery.

Chorus:        With me toorin an ya,
        With me toorin an ya,
        With me toorin an yoorin and yoorin an ya.

For forty-five years now I've wielded the spade,
A craftsman I am in the gravedigger's trade;
The stiffs of owld Dublin all the year round,
I plant nice and decent in this holy ground. (chorus)

The cut's seven feet long and almost as deep,
Two feet wide at the shoulders and less at the feet;
You may travel this country around and around,
But a finer bone-orchard will never be found. (chorus)

I've seen the fine funerals, people in droves,
Dressed up in their mourning just like bloody crows,
All full of Jamieson's, boiled ham and cake -
But not once have I ever been asked to the wake. (chorus)

Back in the twenties, sure that was the time,
When the Tans were around and we worked overtime;
His Majesty's guns knocked down Dubliner's homes -
But he gave 'em free lodgings in old Mount Jerome. (chorus)

I once buried a gent, he was thirty-two stone,
I dug for two days, I was worked to the bone;
I flung from the shoulder and flicked with the wrist -
And his widow stuck one lousy bob in me fist. (chorus)

We've buried the poor and we've buried the rich,
The hardworking man and the son of a bitch,
The old and the young, sure they all end up here -
Six thousand we plant in an average year. (chorus)

Yes, an average year and by no means the peak,
One-hundred-and-twenty-five stiffs every week;
By my calculations that's eighteen a day -
Sure, they give us no peace with their passing away. (chorus)

The customers come here by day and by night;
I sometimes think Dubliners die out of spite.
But we're organised now and the union is here,
And we've struck for an extra week out every year. (chorus)        

The relatives come here with shovel and pick,
And the mourners have gone on a do-it-yourself kick;
They're cursing' and swearin' and flingin' up clay -
Bejasus, you'd swear all their wits were away (chorus)

Then stand fast, all diggers that in Dublin dwell;
From Deans Grange, Mount Jerome and Glasrevin as well.
They're parking their corpses all over the place -
But we'll fight until Dublin has run out of space. (chorus)





The Gravedigger's Song


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