On Springthyme SPRCD 1029
Billy Ross & John Martin - Braes of Lochiel

Billy Ross: vocal, guitar; John Martin: fiddle, whistle, vocal harmony

The song paints what is probably a fairly accurate picture of the rough, tough life of the Irish navvy at the turn of the century. In Patrick McGill's book The Children of the Dead End the song is attributed to an Irish navvy called Two Shift Mulholland, and is said to have been popular amongst navvies working in Scotland at that time. The old words have been set to music by Davy Stuart.

1: I've navvied here in Scotland and I've navvied in the south,
Without a drink to cheer me or a crust to cross me mouth,
I fed when I was working and starved out on the tramp,
The stone has been me pillow and the moon above me lamp.

2: And I've drunk me share and over when I was flushed with tin,
For the drouth without was nothing to the drouth that burned within,
But where'er I've filled me billy and where'er I've drained me can,
I've done it like a navvy like a bold navvy man.
Oh the bold navvy man and an old navvy man,
I’ve done me graft and stuck it like a bold navvy man.

3: And I've met a lot of women and I've liked them all a spell,
They drive some men to drinking and others off to hell,
But never have I met her yet the women cute who can,
Learn a trick to Old Nick or the bold navvy man.
Oh the fly navvy man, the sly navvy man,
Sure a woman's always running to the bold navvy man.

4: And I do not care for ladies grand who are of high degree,
A winsome wench and willing she is just the one for me,
And I will live till lusty life runs out its normal span,
The end of which is in the ditch for many's the navvy man.
The bold navvy man, an old navvy man,
Straight in the ditch with feet cocked up so dies the navvy man.

5: Well I've splashed a thousand models red and raised up fiery kane,
From Glasgow down to Dover pier and back that road again,
It's women, work and fun and fight and drink whene'er I can,
That makes this life of stress and strife that suits the navvy man.
Oh the bold navvy man, an old navvy man,
For fun and fight are damn all right for any navvy man.

Old words set to music by Davy Stuart
Springthyme Music © 1990