No Irish Need Apply
DESCRIPTION: "I'm a decent boy just landed From the town of Ballyfad; I want a situation, yes, And want it very bad." He applies for various jobs, but is told time and again, "No Irish need apply." (At last he attacks one of the bosses and gains a job)
AUTHOR: unknown (see NOTES)
EARLIEST DATE: 1922 (Dean)
KEYWORDS: emigration discrimination Ireland nonballad work fight
FOUND IN: US(MW)
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Dean, p. 65, "No Irish Wanted Here" (1 text)
Greenway-AFP, pp. 41-42, "No Irish Need Apply" (1 text, 1 tune)
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #1607, p. 109, "No Irish Need Apply" (4 references)
Darling-NAS, pp. 364-366, "No Irish Need Apply" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 292, "No Irish Need Apply" (1 text)
Pete Seeger, "No Irish Need Apply" (on PeteSeeger07, PeteSeeger07a, AmHist1)
cf. "An Irish Laborer" (subject)
cf. "The Honest Irish Lad" (subject)
cf. "What Irish Boys Can Do" (subject)
No Puppies Need Apply ("Gentlemen who seek a wife, pray just look at me") (WolfAmericanSongSheets p. 110)
Victorious General Grant ("'Tis of a noble soldier that now I am going to sing") (WolfAmericanSongSheets p. 165)
NOTES: This is a bit of a conundrum, because this song seems to occur in two fairly distinct forms, which we might call "No Irish Need Apply" and "No Irish Wanted Here." In many of the former versions, the Irishman attacks the prejudiced employer. In some of the latter, there is none of that; the worker appeals to the work the Irish did in the Civil War to save the Union.
I was seriously tempted to split the two. But they have common lyrics; while I suspect a deliberate rewrite somewhere along the line, it is not really possible to tell where to draw the line.
WolfAmericanSongSheets, p. 109, lists two distinct songs printed in the nineteenth century with the title "No Irish Need Apply." The more frequently-printed began "I'm a dacint boy, just landed from the town of Ballyfad"; it is credited to John F. Poole and sung by Tony Pastor. The other, uncredited, begins "Oh 'twas yesterday that I was led on such a wild goose chase."
Jon W. Finson, The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 290, says that a song "No Irish Need Apply" was published and sung by a self-proclaimed "Irish Vocalist" named Kathleen O'Neil in 1863, but it is has references to Sebastopol, which hints that it might be an expansion of a Crimean War original to which O'Neil added a reference to (Philip) Sheridan and the Civil War). It concludes by saying that, based on their war service, "All Irish may apply" -- which is hardly the common ending.
Finson, pp. 290-291, says that "The title of [O'Neil's] song originated in an advertisement from the London Times, according to a preface reprinted in the sheet music: 'WANTED. -- A smart active girl to do the general house work of a large family; one who can cook, clean plate, and get up fine linen preferred. N.B. -- No Irish need apply.'" This is curious, since the song is generally about a man.- RBW
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