Recorded on Skeins. An Irish song dating to the Napoleonic Wars, circa 1810. From the singing of Tommy Makem, with lyrics collated from various traditional versions.
“Now, Mrs. McGrath,” the sergeant said,
“Would you like to make a soldier out of your son Ted?
With a scarlet coat and a three cocked hat,
Now Mrs. McGrath, wouldn't you like that?”
Wid your too-ri-ah, fol the- diddle-ah Too-ri, oo-ri, oo-ri-ah…
Now Mrs. McGrath lived on the seashore
For the space of seven long years or more,
Till she saw a big ship sail into the bay,
“Here's my son Ted, wisha clear the way.”
“Oh captain, dear, where have you been,
Have you been sailing the Meditereen,
Have you any news of my son Ted,
Is the poor boy living or is he dead?”
Then up comes Ted, without any legs,
And in their place there was two wooden pegs.
She kissed him a dozen times or two,
Crying, “Holy Moses, is it you?”
“Now was you drunk, or was you blind,
When you left your two fine legs behind?
Or was it a-walking upon the sea,
Wore your two fine legs right down to the knee?”
“No, I wasn’t drunk, and I wasn’t blind
When I left my two fine legs behind,
A cannon ball on the fifth of May,
Tore my two fine legs from the knees away.”
“Oh Teddy, my boy,” the widow cried,
“Your two fine legs were your mammy’s pride.
The stumps of a tree won't do at all,
Why didn't you run from the cannon ball?
“All foreign wars, I do proclaim,
Between Don John and the King of Spain,
By herrins I'll make them rue the time,
They took two legs from a child of mine.
“Well Ted, if I had it back again,
I'd never let you go to fight the King of Spain,
For I'd rather have me Ted as he used to be,
Than the King of France and his whole navy.”