McAlpine’s Fusiliers

Dominic Behan

As down the glen came McAlpine’s men
With their shovels slung behind them
It was in the pub they drank the sub
And up in the spike you’ll find them
They sweated blood and they washed down mud
With pints and quarts of beer
And now we’re on the road again
With McAlpine’s Fusiliers

I stripped to the skin with the Darky Flynn
Way down upon the Isle of Grain
With the Horseface Toole I knew the rule
No money if you stop for rain
When McAlpine’s god was a well filled hod
With your shoulders cut to bits and seared
And woe to he who looks for tea
With McAlpine’s Fusiliers

I remember the day that the Bear O’Shea
Fell into a concrete stairs
What the Horseface said, when he saw him dead
Well, it wasn’t what the rich call prayers
I’m a navvy short was the one retort
That reached unto my ears
When the going is rough, well you must be tough
With McAlpine’s Fusiliers

I’ve worked till the sweat near had me bet
With Russian, Czech and Pole
On shuddering jams up in the hydro dams
Or underneath the Thames in a hole
I grafted hard and I’ve got me cards
And many a gangers fist across me ears
If you pride your life, don’t join, by Christ
With McAlpine’s Fusiliers

This song was written by Dominic Behan (brother of Brendan). It concerns Irishmen who emigrated to England to work on the building sites and motorways.