Mary Anne McGuinan
DESCRIPTION: Mary Anne McGuigan: if your "pritties" are good you must spray them again with bluestone. John James leads the dance with her and buys her a blouse of silk. Who will help her fix her house and thresh her oats? She is "swiggin'" her porter.
EARLIEST DATE: 1979 (Tunney-StoneFiddle)
KEYWORDS: farming dancing drink humorous nonballad clothes home
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Tunney-StoneFiddle, p. 68, "Mary Anne McGuinan" (1 text)
NOTES: Each verse is independent of the others and of the chorus. Bluestone is sprayed as a potato fungicide. - BS
"Bluestone" in this case is not lapis lazuli, which is sometimes called by that name, but rather copper (II) sulfate, or chalcanthite, a copper mineral (CuSO4.5H2O), also known as blue vitriol. According to Emsley, p. 124, "Copper in the form of Bordeaux mixture(a blue gelatinous suspension of copper sulfate and lime in water) was one of the first agrochemical pesticides, developed to control downy mildew on vines."
Heiserman, p. 120, says that "Copper(II) sulfate, CuSO4, is the best known and most popular of the copper compounds. It is a white crystal in its pure, anhydrous (waterless) form. It is better known in its pentahydrate form, CuSO4.H20, which is a deep blue crystal. Sometimes called blue vitriol, the primarey commercial applications of hydrated copper sulfate are in fungicides and algicides, and in ink pigments."
Schwarcz, p. 69, notes that copper sulfate was first used on grapes to discourage theft, but that Pierre-Maris-Alexis Millardet, a professor of botany at Bordeaux, observed that the material also prevented the growth of fungus. He went on to offer Bordeaux mixture as the first widely-used fungicide. It is also used to clarify and purify swimming pools.
Schwarcz also makes the ironic note that copper sulfate is no longer sold in home chemistry sets because it is considerd dangerous -- but it is still sold to organic farmers who are allowed to use it as a fungicide!
For another song involving bluestone, see "Sergeant Neill." - RBW
Last updated in version 3.0
- Coogan: Tim Pat Coogan, The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012
- Emsley: John Emsley, Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements, Corrected edition, Oxford, 2003
- Heiserman: David L. Heiserman, Exploring Chemical Elements and their Compounds, TAB Books, 1992
- Schwarcz: Joe Schwarcz, Dr. Joe & What You Didn't Know: 177 Fascinating Questions & Answers about the Chemistry of Everyday Life, ECW press, 2003
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