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Bold McCarthy

[ Roud 1800 ; Laws K26 ; Ballad Index LK26 ; trad.]

This song is also know as The City of Baltimore after the ship it took place on. Martin Carthy sang it as Bold McCarthy on the 2003 anthology of traditional Irish-American songs from the Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection, Irish Songs From Old New England. Dan Milner noted:

Sailors often worked at logging during the winter, hauling their maritime ballads to the lumber camps, as happened here. The ports of Liverpool and New York were tightly tied together from the first voyage of the Black Ball Line in 1818 until after World War I. During the 100-year period, many poor Irish tried to stow away to New York, but many, many more paid their passage.

James Rattery, who contributed Bold McCarthy to the Flanders Ballad Collection, lived in Walpole, New Hampshire on the Connecticut River. Martin Carthy MBE, whose forebearers were McCarthys from Ballybunnion, Co. Kerry, has been one of Britain’s foremost solo singers for four decades. His group credits include Waterson:Carthy, Brass Monkey, Steeleye Span and The Watersons


Martin Carthy sings Bold McCarthy

Oh, come all of you trueborn Irishmen, a story I will tell,
Concerning Bold McCarthy, in Liverpool he dwell.
Down by the salt house docks one day McCarthy chanced to stray
And on board of a western ocean boat he stowed himself away.

Oh, it’s early ever the morning the mate he called us too
And it’s early ever the morning he searched the boat all through;
“Where is that slobber of Irishman?” the mate he loudly roar,
“He will rue the day that he stowed away on the City of Baltimore.”

“Oh, here am I”, McCarthy cried, “what do you want of me?
Before I’ll be countdowned by you it’s on this deck I will die.
If you’re a man of courage bold, before me you would stand
And I’ll fight you fair all on the deck of the City of Baltimore.”

Oh, the mate, he being a cowardly man, before him would not stand;
And with an iron belaying pin at McCarthy’s head he flung.
McCarthy, being a smart young man, soon laid him in his gore;
There was bloody murder all on the deck of the City of Baltimore.

Oh, two of the other bosuns went to the mate’s relief;
McCarthy with a handspike he made them both retreat.
And when his Irish blood got up, he like a lion did roar,
Saying, “I’ll fight you both on the deck of the City of Baltimore.”

Our captain, being a Scotsman, McDonald was his name;
And when he saw what McCarthy did, it’s forward then he came.
He took McCarthy by the hand, saying, “Don’t you fight anymore
And I’ll make you an officer of the ship the City of Baltimore.”