Willie Clancy And The Pipes

from Winsome Ways by Maurice McGrath

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Tells the story of a man from Miltown Malbay, County Clare who, along with many thousands of Irishmen in the nineteen-fifties, emigrated to London to seek work as a labourer. Life was rough for these men, with early starts, heavy work and harsh weather. Some of them married and had families, but some of them grew old on their own, still renting bedsits in places such as Kilburn High Road. I could see them still there in the early nineties when I was in London.

Drinking was an escape from the harsh realities of labouring long hours on the new motorways. Irish music, then as now, reminded people of home. The wild sound of the pipes must have seemed exotic in 1950's London. Willie Clancy was a renowned Uileann Piper from Clare who himself took the boat to London. He played in pubs such as The Crown in Cricklewood.


Willie Clancy And The Pipes

In Miltown Malbay I was born
And from that place I soon was torn
With no work I made no pay
To Camden town I sailed away
I fell into the building trade
And on the roads I earned my wage
Working hard from break of dawn
Til forty years have come and gone

Gone like the morning dew, all the people I knew
Who laboured on roads all the winter through
Gone like the morning dew, times in The Crown
When Willie Clancy and the pipes echoed all around

When morning came with head in hand
We hopped into that Bedford van
And where we drove we did not care
Along the road to God knows where
Building England’s motorways
For the nights, we lived our days
Monday was the worst of all
But there was hope from tuesday on


On Friday night out drinking hard
We cashed our cheques behind the bar
In The Crown in Cricklewood
We drank away the sweat and blood
We sang the songs and heard the reels
The wind that shakes the barley fields
We asked the girls out on the floor
Dancing in the Galtymore

© Copyright 2016 Maurice McGrath


from Winsome Ways, released December 7, 2016
Written. performed and recorded by Maurice McGrath. Backing vocals by Michelle Burrowes.


all rights reserved



Maurice McGrath Dublin, Ireland


Songwriter based in Dublin Ireland. writing songs which are influenced by traditional folk songs and singers. Plays guitar, banjo, mandolin, low whistle, and sing. Influences include Nic Jones, Christy Moore, Andy Irvine, Martin Carthy, Niamh Parsons.

Also influenced by the singers at the various traditional music and unaccompanied singing sessions.
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