New York 1849

© Maria Dunn, 1998 (SOCAN)

“In 1988, when I was visiting family in Co. Dublin, Ireland, my Uncle Martin showed me several letters that my great-great-grandfather, Dominick Dunne, had received from his brother and sisters who had emigrated to New York near the end of the Great Famine (1845-1850). The most poignant and most frequent letters were from his youngest sister, Anne.”

Well it’s no trouble in New York
Dear brother, it’s no trouble at all
But Ireland seems so far away
And you know, sometimes I feel so small

Dominick, it’s your dear sister Anne,
and it’s long past time I took up my pen
I know it’s a poor one, my writing’s a scrawl,
but I haven’t heard from you at all

My situation’s no goldmine,
but I tell you I am doing fine
Four dollars a month and a place to sleep,
and a poor bit of joy at the end of the week

And it’s no trouble in New York
Dear brother, it’s no trouble at all
There’s husbands here at every turn
It’s the finding of a sober one is all

Your brother Mark’s been coming around,
with nothing less than scowl or frown
And the whiskey speaking on his breath,
and his two fists raised to bring me down

And Peggy–she and I don’t speak,
she has turned her face from me
And you know I’m still not seventeen,
and I’m all alone in this strange country

And it’s no trouble in New York
Dear brother, it’s no trouble at all
There’s harsh words here at every turn
When a kind one’s all I’m asking for

Thank God, Mary she’s been good to me,
when I couldn’t work she took me in
Were it not for her or her husband fine,
who knows where I might now be lying

This is not the country people think,
I never worked ’til I worked here
And there’s paupers are as badly off
as ever Ireland’s poor I’ve seen

And it’s no trouble in New York
Dear brother, it’s no trouble at all
There’s hard work here at every turn
It’s the finding of a decent job is all
And it’s no trouble…
There’s harsh words here at every turn
When a kind one’s all you’re looking for
And it’s no trouble…
There’s husbands here at every turn
It’s the finding of a sober one is all

Maria Dunn vocal · Shannon Johnson violin, harmony vocal ·
Dawn Anderson harmony vocal Jeremiah McDade low D whistle ·
Solon McDade upright bass · Andy Illig guitar · Gary Koliger guitar