Mudcat Café message #1053943 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #8951   Message #1053943
Posted By: GUEST,Patrick Sheehan
14-Nov-03 - 10:09 PM
Thread Name: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
As far as translations of the rumbelows goes, I have another one:

m'uisce rinneadh me/ di/obh amada/n (sounds a lot like: musha ringa ma doo um a da, when said quickly) means literally

my whiskey made me, for them, a fool. (or, more conversationally, my whiskey made me stupid and then they got me in my drunken state)

There is a song called "Sporting Hero - or, Whiskey in the Bar" from an early 1850s broadside on Bodleian that is very very similar to Whiskey in the Jar and has the additional verses

1. I am a sporting hero, I never yet was daunted
In treating pretty girls in places where I haunted
In gin and rum and brandy I would spend all my store
I when that is done I would boldly rob for more

4. I being wet and weary and for to take a slumber
I laid my self down all in my Molly's chamber
She unloaded my pistols and loaded them with water
I was taken like a lamb going to the slaughter

8. Some take great delight in their fishing and their fowling
and others take delight in their carriage rolling
but I take great delight in being brisk and jolly
Filling up strong liquors for you deceitful Molly.

Taken in the context of these additional verses, it now makes some sense to me why the song is even CALLED whiskey in the jar. It seems to be based on a story where this drunk highwayman robs this Captain but is so sloshed that when he gets back to his girlfriend's place, she's finally had enough of him coming home trashed and so she decides to hand him over to the authorities. He passes out in her room ("I being wet and weary" possibly a reference to being drunk) and she disarms him so that he wont kill anyone when the police come for him in the morning. Then he escapes and in the end, in this version at least, is still in love with Molly, but seems to wish that he wasn't.

I think my attempt at an Irish-English translation of this fits in nicely with the broader story of the "Sporting Hero" and iknowitall's comment about "whacking the bar to get the bartender's attention" and give an understandable, consistent possible reading of the chorus which is commonly just brushed aside as nonsense. The story of the chorus is that the highway man is in a pub telling this story to the other people in the bar, saying "what I fool I was when drunk, now get me another drink." This is both a more intersting chorus in this light, it is lightly ironic and humorous too.

What do you all think?

- Patrick Sheehan