Last Winter Was a Hard One

(Words by Jim O’Neil, music by Jack Conroy; originally titles “When McGuinness Gets a Job.” Based on the version in Dean, slightly modified)

Recording by Walking on Air: 

Last winter was a hard one, Missus Reilly, did you say?
Faith, myself it is that knows it for many a long day.
Your old man wasn’t the only one that sat behind the wall;
My old man McGuinness didn’t get a job at all.

Then cheer up, Missus Reilly, don’t give way to the blues.
You and I will cut a shine, with bonnets and new shoes.
Hear the young ones cry, neither sigh nor sob,
But I’ll wait till times get better and McGuinness gets a job.

The contractors* they promised him work on the boulevard,
To handle the pick and shovel and throw dirt in the car;
Six month ago they promised him that work he’d surely get,
But believe me, my good woman, they are promising it yet.

The Ey-talians, devil take them, why don’t they stay at home?
We have enough of our own sort to eat up all our own!
They come like bees in summer and in winter they go away,
The contractors hire hundreds for sixty cents a day.

They work upon the railroad, they shovel dirt and slush,
There is one thing in their favor, Ey-talians never get lush.
They always bring their money home, they drink no beer or wine.
That’s something I would like to say about your old man and mine!

The springtime it is coming and soon we’ll all get work;
McGuinness will go back to his trade, sure he’s a handsome clerk.
You should see him climb the ladder, as nimble as a fox,
Faith, he’s the boy can juggle the old three-cornered box.

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