DESCRIPTION: Twang hawker and rag-picker Mickey Baggs courts a girl who "kep' a Traycle Billy depot." Baggs wins her heart taking her to play "Billy-in-the-bowl." So "with his twang kni-ef [twangman] tuk the li-ef Of the poor ould gather'em-up!"
AUTHOR: probably Michael J. Moran (Zozimus)
EARLIEST DATE: 1929 (OLochlainn)
KEYWORDS: courting homicide humorous
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (4 citations):
OLochlainn, pp. 231-232, "The Twangman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Behan, #91, "The Twangman's Revenge" (1 text, 1 tune, modified)
ADDITIONAL: Frank Harte _Songs of Dublin_, second edition, Ossian, 1993, pp. 44-45, "The Twangman" (1 text, 1 tune)
NOTES: In response to queries in earlier editions of the Index, Tom O'Leary informs me that "twang" is toffee. He adds that a "'Traycle depot' [was] a sweet shop, which in this case, was near to, or on one side of the Carlisle Bridge, Dublin."
Harte, on the other hand, says that it was Treacle Billy that was the toffee and twang another sort of sweetmeat. It makes little difference; the twangman certainly sold toffee.
The song says that the twangman only sells his wares "when the mileetia wasn't wantin'"; this is no particular constraint on his schedule, as miltitia in this period was a very part-time organization except when there was a rebellion in process. - RBW, (BS)
I might add that Eric Partridge A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (combined fifth edition with dictionary and supplement), Macmillan, 1961, in his supplement says that "twang" means opium in twentieth century Australian slang. But this usage seems to be more recent than O Lochlainn's text of the song.
Note also that Harte questions whether this is actually by Zozimus. But his evidence is negative: The song is not mentioned in the Zozimus memoirs. For background on Zozimus, see the notes to "The Finding of Moses." - RBW
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