Irish Protest Folk Song

Main Piece:

When I was young I used to be as fine a man as ever you’d see;
The Prince of Wales, he said to me, “Come and join the British army.”

When I was young I had a twist of punching babies with me fist
And I thought I would enlist and join the British army.

Too ra loo ra loo ra loo, they’re looking for monkeys up in the zoo
If I had a face like you, I would join the British army.

Sarah Camdon baked a cake; it was all for poor old Slattery’s sake.
I threw me-self into the lake, pretending I was balmy.

Corporal Duff’s got such a drought, just give him a couple of jars of stout;
He’ll kill the enemy with his mouth and save the British Army.
Too ra loo ra loo ra loo, Me curse is on the Labour crew;
They took your darling boy from you to join the British army.

Captain Heeley went away and his wife got in the family way,
And all the words that she would say was “Blame the British Army.”
Too ra loo ra loo ra loo, I’ve made me mind up what to do
I’ll work my ticket home to you and leave the British army

Sarah Comden baked a cake, it was all for poor ‘oul Slattery’s sake
I threw herself into the lake, pretending I was barmy
toora loora loora loo, it was the only thing I could do
to work my ticket home to you and fuck the British army”
Background information about the piece by the informant: Carolina was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland to a strongly anti-British family. They see the British forces as an oppressor for the Irish people, and they have taught Carolina anti-British army protest folk songs since she was a child. She doesn’t necessarily share the sentiment of hating every single British person, but she does think that the country has not treated Ireland well, for which she enjoys singing these songs.

Context of the piece: The song is supposed to be sang in a community whenever there is a manifested anti-British feeling. This could be in more organized events like a street march, to more casual occurrences like an entire pub collectively singing the song while drunk. This is due to the British establishing colonies in the Irish island and still keeping the North as part of the UK. The people who sing these kinds of songs see this as an invasion from an oppressive empire, and their songs serve to represent them as the underdogs against the big authority.

Thoughts on the piece: Singing these kinds of songs with other people creates a strong sense of community, and it this case, it would be of nationalism. They are singing specifically about the British army rather than the British as a people, which already paints the nation in a military dictatorial fashion. Although there is anger shown in the song, it is mostly a ridicule of the idea of joining the British army, which further places the British outside of the trust circle of the Irish.