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My Son in Amerikay

[ Roud 2970 ; Alf McLoughlin]

Eddie Butcher of Magilligan, Co. Derry, sang My Son in Americay in July 1969 to Hugh Shields. This recording was included on the 3 CD set that accompanied Shields’ 2011 book on Eddie Butcher, All the Days of His Life. Another recording made by Neil Wayne and Lyn Murfin in 1975 was included in the following year on Butcher’s Free Reed album I Once Was a Daysman.

Andy Irvine sang My Son in Amerikay in 1999 on Patrick Street’s Green Linnet album Live From Patrick Street.

Matt Quinn and George Sansome sang My Son in Amerikay in 2023 on their duo album Sheffield Park. Matt Quinn noted:

Written by Alf McLoughlin, coming via Eddie Butcher and then Andy Irvine in Patrick Street, this excellent song tells about the perils of not correctly labelling your outgoing post.

Matt Quinn and George Sansome sing My Son in Amerikay

A long time ago in the county Mayo, this story it first began,
Before this land was finally cured by the First Economical Plan.
A brave young man had to leave his home and sail far over the sea
But he got well paid on the job and he stayed at the shores of Amerikay.

He got on very well but he sent nothing home and his mother began to think
That maybe he’d run away with a blonde or spent all his money on drink!
She wrote him a letter enquiring a news and sent it straight away
And upon the cover she carefully wrote “To me son in Amerikay”.

And the postman collected the letter she wrote and drove in his van to Cork
Where he placed it upon a ship at Cobh that landed it in New York.
And there with the whiskey and everything else the mailbags lay on the quay,
And upon the rest was a letter addressed “To my son in Amerikay”.

Now American postmen, I needn’t relate, they are rather like me and you,
And when at last to this letter they came, they didn’t know what to do.
They looked up all the official lists, and these had nothing to say,
There was no directory could help them to find her son in Amerikay.

And it laid at the office for years and years, it gave all the boys a laugh,
Until at length it found some use in the training of the staff.
To every new postman that came on the job it was shown as Exhibit A
That was “Insufficiently addressed to ‘My Son in Amerikay’”.

And the son he got older and wiser too, at last to himself he said,
“Oh, how are things going with my mother at home, and is she alive or dead?”
He walked ’round the block to the GPO, where he stood with his cap in his hand
“By any chance there’s a letter for me from my Mother in Ireland?”

“Oh yes, kind sir—and here it is—we’ve been waiting for you to call!
We knew that someday someone might come from Cork or old Donegal.
For the two hundred million that’s living now in the whole of the USA,
For a mother in Ireland we finally found a ‘Son in Amerikay’.”