Granda’s Big Brass Lock
Lyrics: Paddy Berry

This is a true story. In the early 1900’s my grandfather built a new house. Money was scarce at the time and the last item to be finished on his house was his pride and joy – an expensive brass local fitted on the front door. It had a huge big iron key. I remember it well.

During the Troubles money had to be found for the cause, by fair means or foul, to finance the ‘war’.At one stage orders were sent down that all rate collectors were to be robbed. My three uncles, along with many of their neighbours, were greatly involved, unbeknownst to their parents. One of the three happened to be a rate collector who knew himself that he was going to be robbed and as the song says, he helped himself to rob himself. A break-in was organized to throw off suspicion to real robbers then known in the area.  So the three brothers and others attacked the front door and broke the brass lock – my granddads pride and joy. He was furious but as the song says, he came round and joined them in their cause but not before reminding them hat the back door was nearly always open. My father told me this story several times.

My father's teenage days were spent in nineteen seventeen
Listening to grown men talking about the cursed English spleen
They spoke about the GPO which made his heart full sore
But the death of our own leaders stung him to the very core.

It was early in his youthful years a rebel streak did show
Hearing men make solemn promises the British to overthrow
They would sacrifice both life and limb a republic to define
And many an Irish volunteer died sadly in his prime.

My father's house built by his dad was solid and first rate
The front was finished in mortar dash, on the back hung a cladding slate
The roof was covered with Killaloes, the windows slid up and down
On the floor beside the big hall door lay tiles in sam belt brown.

To finish off the house he built my granda couldn't wait
To fit a brass lock to the door on a solid brass lock plate
He paid a fortune for this lock for he knew 'twould be secure
It took Jim Smith a good two days to fit it on the door.

My Granda was a Redmondite and backed his home rule bill
He wore a stiff starched collared shirt and a bowler hat as well
But his politics were old and stale, home rule was not yet won
And Ireland now was changing fast and 'twas time the Brits were gone.

Uncle Mike worked for the government collecting Poor Law Rates
He hid his takings in a box marked  "Willow Pattern Plates"
For well he knew the danger, his collection would tempt men
Who were desperate to fund the cause and cared not from where it came.

Behind the scenes two teenage boys were hatching out a plot
To rob their uncle's Poor Law Rates making sure not to be caught 
But soon they found their uncle Mike supported the rebel cause
And agreed to help them rob himself and to hell with England's laws.

They struck a blow for Ireland then when Granda went to bed
To stave off police suspicion staged a big break-in instead
Then the blame would shift to the highway men seen lately round Kilmore
And with foul aforethought and intent, they attacked the big front door.

With hatchet, bars and hammers too in a hurried mode did wield
But Granda's big brass locking lock was proving slow to yield
A heavy sledge was soon secured, then a stick of dynamite
And according to what my Da told me, there was an awful bang that night.

Poor Granda was blown out from his bed and called out to God for help
My father grabbed the Poor Law Box but he broke the willow delph
A blow was struck for Ireland though, cruel England to frustrate
But sacrificed was the big brass lock and the willow pattern plates.

My Granda incandescent now he quizzed the boys' intent
And why they bombed the front door lock knowing what to him it meant
Could they not see with their own two eyes a break-in to secure
That a flimsy timber thumb latch held the unlocked kitchen door?

The news soon spread like wildfire all around the whole south east
When my grandpa saw the funny side, his support for home rule ceased
Lloyd George recalled the government, new tactics to devise
But the rebel heart of Wexford men, it helped to galvanise.
Video Documentation of Concert
Recorded and Produced by Michael Fortune.

Paddy Berry

Granda’s Big Brass Lock

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