What Irish Boys Can Do
Publisher: J. Wrigley, New York
Medium: Print On Paper
The Library’s Civil War songster collection contains over a dozen tunes specifically about Irish–born and descended soldiers fighting in the conflict. The majority of these songs refer to the Irish Brigade and the 69th Infantry Regiment, whose soldiers were predominately Irish–American, and the generals who led them. They also demonstrate a strong sense of national identity whilst fighting for the Union’s preservation.
One lyric states, 'the Stars and the Stripes with the Green did unite', highlighting the fact that for these soldiers, loyalty towards Ireland and Irish heritage was deeply connected their own sense of American patriotism. Present at the start of the main military conflict, the First Battle of Bull Run, Irish–American troops were involved in some of the worst fighting throughout the course of the Civil War. As a result, praise for their fierce bravery is a common theme in these songs.
What Irish Boys Can Do, Answer to ‘No Irish Need Apply’ sought to counter the anti–Irish sentiment present both in America and Britain during the 19th century. The line ‘No Irish Need Apply’ refers to advertisements that first appeared in Britain discriminating against Irish workers. The song praises the strong military action of Irish fighters, from Wellington at Waterloo to campaigns during the American Civil War. There are references to the 69th Infantry Regiment 'who bravely fought at Bull–Run' and the Irish–born General Meagher’s involvement in the 1862 Seven Days Battles in Virginia.