The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside ballad entitled 'Barney Get Up From the Fire!'


This ballad begins: 'My name is Paddy M'Guire, I belong to sweet Tralee, / I fell in love with an Irish girl, the name of Katy M'Gee / I went one night to court her in the pleasant month of May.'

Mr McGuire, it is revealed, owns a farm, and as a result Katy's mother is desperate for the courtship to go well. Katy, however, has a smaller brother, who unaware perhaps of the gravity of the situation, sees this as an opportunity to blackmail Mr McGuire so Katy will not 'hear' of his previous courtships. Nowhere in the song is Katy given a voice! Although set in Ireland, the nature of the topic and humour used would probably have appealed to wide audience.

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

previous pageprevious          
Probable period of publication: 1840-1850   shelfmark: L.C.1270(020)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Barney Get Up From the Fire!'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland