Scottish-Irish immigrants brought storytelling to America
March 17, Saint Patrick’s Day, is a day where each one of us can claim to be sons and daughters of the “Old Sod.”
Dear old Ireland furnished many of the brave souls that helped develop the American frontier. They say, “If you are lucky enough to be Irish, you are lucky enough!”
The Scotch-Irish immigrants are credited with bringing their story telling abilities to America and spreading them across the western range, especially after the Civil War, known in the South as “The War of Northern Aggression.”
This time period found men moving west to pursue freedom and land. They become the cowboys that helped to tame the west. Thus, St. Paddy’s Day is an important cowboy holiday.
Gathering around the chuck wagons or cook shacks at the end of day, these cowboys entertained themselves and others by telling about the adventures of that day. Next, someone would bring out a musical instrument and play tunes from the old country or bawdy ballads from pubs and saloons. Soon, the stories were put to music or maybe just to rhyme, thus cowboy poetry got its start. These cowboys were away from home and family, so many would use humor in their stories and poems to brighten their day.
Sometimes, one would be singled out as having a knack to “turn a phrase” or maybe being called “windy.” This very likely spawned the old saying, “The first liar doesn’t stand a chance!” Now, most of these ol’ boys possessed the “gift of gab” and probably had “kissed the blarney stone,” and they also were very superstitious and after having a swig or two of “redeye,” they were prone to see the leprechauns, fairies’ and even the “devil hisself.”
Though they were prone to be superstitious, they were also religious. Their sainted old Mothers had reared them right by taking them to church and teaching them how to say their prayers. Churches were scarce on the early western range, but they knew that the God had created the grandeur around them and provided them with a majestic life style and they were thankful for His blessings. I say all of that to say this…I have been told that I am as Irish as Paddy’s pig! That I have all the characteristics (Of the Irish, not the pig.) since I was known to kiss the “Blarney Stone.”
Yes, I could be a bit windy, watched clouds, and daydreamed, I was red headed enough to fight at the drop of a hat, recognized Leprechauns and the occasional devil, and John Barleycorn was never nice to me! My Ol’ Daddy always said, “Lad, ye best put yore mind back in gear, afore my boot meets yore rear!” Now, if you knew my Ol’ Daddy, you would know that this Irish lad would suddenly have a brisk swing to his step! This is a poem I wrote with some humor and I’m not sure if this pig even knew Paddy’s pig.
Thar Jest Ain’t No Accountin’ Fer A Pig
Times wuz hard, an’ money wuz short,
but, we tried to do all we could.
The cow market had fell apart,
an’ things did not look so good.
Our owner was an ornery cuss,
sent his accountant right away.
Our boss shore put up a fuss,
but this scamp had come to stay.
This bean counter was quite citified
an’ was not a friendly dude.
The youngster was to be his guide,
an’ was treated purty rude.
This tinhorn meant to look about,
an’ needed a way to go.
Told the button jest to help him out,
there warn’t a chance to say no.
This Kid was just a new hand
But he meant to clear the air,
fer he was quick to understand
an’ jest figgered it was fair.
Got the riggin’ on a salty hoss
an’ brought it to the bunk house door.
Had not figgered on the Boss,
to come walkin’ ‘crost that floor,
to tell that “towny” he best not ride…
But ‘fore he could have his say,
that greenhorn shoved the Boss aside!
Determined to make his play.
Stepped up on that salty hoss,
with a smirk upon his face.
Seemed to snub his nose at the boss,
as he snapt’ his derby in place.
Just as that Dude stepped on his mount,
a pig run under that hoss.
Time in the saddle you couldn’t count,
as we watched that epic toss.
High in the air, soon, down he came,
an’ landed with a squishy thud.
We all knew the pig was to blame,
as the dude squashed down in that mud.
Wiped off that pig mud as best he could,
as he pondered his disgrace.
He spit an’ sputtered as he stood,
with a pouty look on his face.
Then told the Boss to fetch a rig,
‘cuz he was a- leavin’ these parts.
We all had smiles, as did the pig,
who had won a place in all our hearts.
Thar jest ain’t no accountin’ fer a pig!
God Bless the Irish! May the Lord keep you in His hand and never close His
fist too tight.