Mrs McGrath - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

Recorded by Burl Ives, Bruce Springsteen (on his Seeger Sessions album), The Dubliners, The Clancy Brothers and others, Mrs McGrath is an anti-war song of Irish origin.  Sometimes known as 'Mrs McGraw' or ' My Son Ted', Mrs McGrath is similar in lyric and sentiment to the song 'My Son John' (who also lost a race with a cannonball and came home to be mourned by his mother).  The sergeant in the song's first verse is a recruiting sergeant.  For another song about the perils of enlistment, see The Blue Cockade.  Mrs McGrath dates from some point in the Nineteenth century.

Chords

Capo at 1st Fret


Verse

Em

"Mrs McGrath," the sergeant said,

                                                        D
"Would you like a soldier out of your son Ted?

D
With a scarlet coat and a big cocked hat -

                                   Em
Mrs McGrath would you like that?"




Chorus

Em                                                                                  D

With your too-rye-ay fol-diddle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay

D                                                                 Em
Too-ri-ay fol-did-dle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay

Lyrics

"Mrs McGrath," the sergeant said,
"Would you like a soldier out of your son Ted?
With a scarlet coat and a big cocked hat -
Mrs McGrath would you like that?"

With your too-rye-ay fol-diddle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay
Too-ri-ay fol-did-dle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay

Now Mrs McGrath lived on the shore
And after seven years or more
She spied a ship come into the bay
With her son from far away.

"O captain dear, where have ye been?
You've been sailing the Mediterranean.
Have you news of my son Ted -
Is he living or is he dead?"

With your too-rye-ay fol-diddle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay
Too-ri-ay fol-did-dle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay

Then came Ted without any legs
And in their place two wooden pegs;
She kissed him a dozen times or two
And said, "my God, Ted, is it you?

Now were ye drunk or were ye blind
When ye left your two fine legs behind?
Or was it walking upon the sea
That tore your two fine legs away?"

With your too-rye-ay fol-diddle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay
Too-ri-ay fol-did-dle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay
With your too-rye-ay fol-diddle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay
Too-ri-ay fol-did-dle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay

"Now I wasn't drunk and I wasn't blind
When I left my two fine legs behind:
A cannonball on the fifth of May
Tore my two fine legs away."

"My, Teddy boy," the widow cried,
"Your two fine legs were yer mother's pride;
Stumps of a tree won't do at all -
Why didn't ye run from the cannonball?"

With your too-rye-ay fol-diddle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay
Too-ri-ay fol-did-dle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay
With your too-rye-ay fol-diddle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay
Too-ri-ay fol-did-dle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay

"All foreign wars I do proclaim
Live on blood and a mother's pain.
I'd rather have my son as he used to be
Than the King of France and his whole Navy"

With your too-rye-ay fol-diddle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay
Too-ri-ay fol-did-dle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay
With your too-rye-ay fol-diddle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay
Too-ri-ay fol-did-dle-di-ay too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-ay

Other Irish Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs