Sample Scene

The Mulligan Guard Ball (1879)

Libretto by Edward Harrigan

Music by David Braham

Act I, Scene (partial)

Edited by John Kenrick

The Setup: Popular neighborhood leader Dan Mulligan (Edward Harrigan) is throwing a ball for the younger members of his cronies, The Mulligan Guard. He does not know that the owner of the ballroom has booked a ball for the Mulligan's arch enemies, the all-Negro Skidmore Guards, into the same room on the same evening. Dan shares plans with his longtime crony, McSweeney (one of several roles played by Tony Hart).

This scene, with its heavy use of Irish pronunciations and Bowery colloquialisms, offered Harrigan and Hart an opportunity to reprise the song that had brought them stardom in their variety days. The question, "Do you remember the old tune?" would have set their fans cheering in anticipation of "The Mulligan Guard March."

(Slightly tipsy) McSweeney, you're a friend of mine, you're one of the old Mulligans.

I was First Leftenant when we licked the Dutch Brewery Light Guard at Communipaw.

That's the year I gave you four tons of coal for a prize, and burnt coke meself at home.

Yes, and I had four shots and won it, but I never give it away.

I have fixed it all right for you and Gilmartin to go with the young Mulligans to the ball tomorrow night, Walsingham. It's dead level, I got it from Tommy.

It's a favor you'll never be sorry for.

There's one man going to that ball tomorrow night, Mc, I'm sure.

Who is he, Dan?

A Dutch butcher, named Lochmuller. I'd lick him, Mc, but I owe him thirty-five dollars.

I'll lick him for you.

No, let it go. Wait till the young Mulligan Guard Ball is over.

Very well.

What's the name of the hall the young Mulligans have for the ball?

The Harp and Shamrock.

I want to see the hall look nice. Will you do what I say?

Yes, sling on anything, Dan, I'm with you.

No, but fix the ball the way I want it. Get a row of American flags on the right hand, with the Irish flags blending between them. Then get a row of wax candles on the balcony, and put a sign on it, "Look out for the drip." Get about thirty-three canaries, and some blackbirds, in cages, and hang them on the chandeliers, and give word to the leader of the band, if a Dutch tune is played the whole night, he'll not get a cent. Will you do this?

I will, you bet your life, Dan.

Now come over to McQuade's, and I'll play you a game of hand ball for a five.

I'm with you, Dan.

Come on. Do ye remember the old tune?

(Editor's Note: Mention of "the old tune" would have ignited cheers from audiences waiting to hear Harrigan & Hart reprise their signature hit.)

We crave your condescension,
And we'll tell you what we know
Of marching in the Mulligan Guards,
From the Seventh Ward below;
And our Captain's name was Hussey,
A Tipperary man --
He carried his sword like the Russian Duke,
Whenever he took command.

We shouldered guns,
And marched, and marched away,
From Jackson Street
Way up to Avenue A;
Drums and fifes did sweetly, sweetly play, 
As we marched, marched,
Marched in the Mulligan Guards.

When the band played Garryowen
Or the Connemara pet,
With the rub, dub, dub, we marched in the mud
To the military step.
With the green above the red, boys, 
To show where we came from;
Our gun's we'd lift, with the right shoulder shift,
As we marched to the beat of the drum.

We shouldered guns, etc.

When we'd get home at night boys,
The divil a wink we'd sleep;
We'd all sit up and drink a sup
Of whiskey, strong and neat.
Then we'd all march home together,
As slippery as lard;
The solid men would all fall in,
And march in the Mulligan Guard.

We shouldered guns, etc. (Both exit)

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