Fulwood Barracks – ‘McCafferty’ the folk song.

After my last post, about poor McCaffrey who killed two Officers at Fulwood Barracks and was executed for his crime, reader Martin alerted me to the fact that this terrible event was memorialised in a street-ballad called ‘McCafferty’.  The Officers’ names were likewise altered very slightly, but if this was an attempt to disguise the true identity of the characters in the song, it was a very feeble one.

Martin sent me the lyrics to the song, which was popular in Ireland, McCaffrey’s homeland. The lyrics are below. The song was recorded by many folk artists over the years, including Ewan Maccoll, but as I was unable to find a recording of Maccoll’s version, a link to The Dubliners’ version is below.  Enjoy!

When I was scarcely eighteen years of age,
To join the army I did engage;
To join the 42nd Regiment.
For Captain Hansen took a dislike to me.

To Fullwood Barracks I then did go
To serve a short period in that depot;
But out of trouble I could not be,
For Captain Hansen took a dislike to me.

While standing sentry out one day,
Some soldiers’ children came out to play;
I took one’s name, but not all three –
And with neglect of all duty he did charge me.

In the barracks court-room I did appear,
But Captain Hansen my sad story would not hear;
The sentence it was quickly signed,
And to Fullwood Barracks I was then confined.

For fourteen weeks and fifteen days
The sentence rose and turned my brain;
To shoot my captain dead on sight
Was all that I resolved to do each night.

I saw him standing in the barracks square,
A-walking arm in arm with Colonel Blair;
I raised my rifle, and fired to kill:
I shot my poor colonel against my will.

I did the deed, I shed the blood,
And at Liverpool Assizes my trial I stood.
The judge he says, “McCafferty,
Prepare yourself for the gallows tree.”

I had no father to take my part,
I had no loving mother for to break her heart;
I had one friend, and a girl was she –
She’d lay down her life for McCafferty.

Now all young soldiers take a warning by me:
Don’t have nothing to do with the British Army.
For only lies and tyranny
Have made a murderer out of McCafferty!

In Liverpool City this poor boy died.
In Strangways Manchester his body lies.
Now all good people who do pass by,
Go shed a tear for McCafferty!

About LancashireFolk

Lancashire folklore, legends, ghosts, local history - author of 'Lancashire Folk' published by Schiffer Publishing 2016 - 9780764349836 £19.50. Please visit www.foliatehead.com to see upcoming books. The Enchanted Valley and Manchester Folk will be published in 2020. Cumbria Folk almost ready!
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1 Response to Fulwood Barracks – ‘McCafferty’ the folk song.

  1. John Sprung says:

    The Ewan MacColl version may be found on a wonderful LP called “British Army Songs.” Sadly, it is out of print. I did have a copy transferred onto CD. If you cannot find it anywhere, let me know,


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