"Oh, Mrs. McGrath," the sergeant said
"Would you like a soldier out of your son Ted
With a scarlet coat and a big cocked hat
Oh, Mrs. McGrath, would you like that?"

With your too-ri-ay fo-diddle-de-ay
too-ri-oo ri-oo ri-ay
With your too-ri-ay fo-diddle-de-ay
too-ri-oo ri-oo ri-ay

Now, Mrs. McGrath lived on the shore
And after seven years or more
She spied a ship come into the bay
With her son from far away

"Oh, Captain dear, where have you been
You've been sailing the Mediterranean
Have you news of my son Ted
Is he living or is he dead?"


Up came Ted without any legs
And in their place two wooden pegs
She kissed him a dozen times or two
And said "My god, Ted, is it you?"

"Now were you drunk or were you blind
When you left your two fine legs behind
Or was it walking upon the sea
That wore your two fine legs away?"


"No, I wasn't drunk and I wasn't blind
When I left my two fine legs behind
A cannon ball on the fifth of May
Tore my two fine legs away"

"Oh, Teddy boy," the widow cried
"Your two fine legs were your mother's pride
Stumps of a tree won't do at all
Why didn't you run from the cannon ball?"


"All foreign wars I do proclaim
Live on the blood and the mother's pain
I'd rather have my son as he used to be
Than the King of America and his whole navy"


Lyrics submitted by Zero_The_Hero

Mrs. McGrath song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +3
    General CommentWhy hasn't anyone commented? So this song's about how this Irish guy, Ted McGrath, joins the British Army, and gets sent down to Iberia to fight Napoleon in the Peninsular War. While in Portugal, he loses his legs to a cannon ball, probably in either the Battle of Barrosa, or the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro (Both having taken place on and around May 5. The song ends with with a statement which can be applied to America's current situation in Iraq, and Springsteen probably chose the song for exactly that reason.

    "All foreign wars I do proclaim
    Live on the blood and the mother's pain
    I'd rather have my son as he used to be
    Than the King of America and his whole navy"

    Hope I helped.
    Communism57on June 30, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWhat a fantastic song! The Live in Dublin Version of this is stunning, I was ended up completely still listning to every word ^^

    Obviously Anti-War and quite rightly so, I think the last verse is very telling
    Lederinon August 29, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a lyric to a different song that describes alot of peoples belief of Irish men fighting in British causes.

    "You fought for the wrong country, died for the wrong cause and your Ma even said it was Irelands great loss" Not sure if this song has anything to do with this really for americans today fighting for someone elses cause when there are plenty of problems to be dealt with at home first?
    Squirt_gunon August 28, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBruce was already made aware that his pronuciation of Mrs McGrath was wrong. But just for all those not blessed with being Irish its pron: McGra

    You drop the "th"
    setanta1on December 30, 2008   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top