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Monday, April 9, 2018

The Story of Dicey Reilly : The Woman Who Walked Along Fitzgibbon Street with an Independent Air

The story of Dicey Reilly would be significant enough for two reasons; first, that it is a story far more than a song ( who knows if a story is always a song, in the end? ) and second, it is a beautiful Irish story/song. 
Everything that I hear about the Irish culture leaves me dwelling with a memory that I never consciously acquired in this lifetime. And I am being the most truthful I possibly can be. This song, in particular, is savagely feministing in a sea of patriarchal waves and the approach is so evidently socio-cultural, that you just can't deny what it says deep within. 
Moreover, the introduction that Ronnie Drew provides at the beginning of the song is a challenge to institutional advocacy in music in one of the most easygoing methods one has ever had a chance to perceive. 





Dicey Reilly Lyrics
Source: Genius

Oh poor old Dicey Reilly she has taken to the sup
Oh poor old Dicey Reilly she will never give it up
For it's off each morning to the pop
And then she's in for another little drop
For the heart of the rowl is Dicey Reilly

Oh she walks along Fitzgibbon street with an independent air
And then it's down Summerhill and as the people stare
She says it's nearly half past one, and it's time I had another little one
Ah the heart of the rowl is Dicey Reilly

Long years ago when men were men and fancied May Oblong
Or lovely Beckie Cooper or Maggie's Mary Wong
One woman put them all to shame, just one was worthy of the name
And the name of the dame was Dicey Reilly

Oh but time went catching up on her like many pretty whores
And it's after you along the street before you're out the door
The balance weighed and they look all fade, but out of all that great brigade
Still the heart of the rowl is Dicey Reilly


The song belongs to more of a spoken-word genre, with hardly any significant melody you can boast about and the semi-argumentative approach in the lyrics leaves you wuthering from one place to the other before you have a chance to gather what's going on.

The structure of the song is not one of the symmetrical, pretty pieces you see stacked on the shelves of modern music record labels but is highly unpolished, abrased in a way you're supposed to enjoy - very much like the effect of whiskey in Irish coffee. 


At that point of time, the rebels, and the grassroot level workers - as well as those charged with criminal cases (most of which were false - in order to demoralise the spirit of the rebellion) and prostitutes refused to identify with the institutions such as the court and the people associated with it - including the jury and the judges. As the popular saying goes, when asked if Dicey Riley agreed to recognise the court and those who were associated with its administration, after being charged with prostitution (recognised as a crime at that time) - Riley replied, "Yes, your honour, I do. I recognise every bloody one of you." 

The song in itself reminds me somewhat of an intersectional space shared by the character of Maniac from 'The Accidental Death of an Anarchist' and that of a stronger rendition of the character of Simone de Beauvoir more rooted in reality. Anyone interested in Irish music in general or who's a fan of the Dubliners/the Pogues/Sinead O'Connor, this one's for you!

Continue reading about the song here on Irish Music Daily.
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