This broadside begins: 'The particular account of old Mother Clifton's door, that was locked by the roasted rib of a chew of tobacco, and burst open by a gale of wind from a sow gelder's horn, and blew the old woman seven hundred and [s]eventy-seven miles beyond the moon.' It was published by Sanderson of the High Street, Edinburgh, and probably sold for one penny.
This ballad offers the reader a journey through the ridiculous. Peppered with paradoxical and fantastical events, this tale would have provided entertainment for the broadside-reading public. Although light-hearted, it actually plays on people's negative attitudes towards the Irish by highlighting the stereotypical notion of Irish logic as topsy-turvy. The arrival of the Irish in Scotland during the years of industrialisation was met with some resistance. Many people, in their ignorance, were highly suspicious and afraid of these newcomers.
Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.
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