I first heard "Take me up to Monto" on a Dubliners recording sometime in the early eighties and the version I sing can be found in Soodlums. The lyrics are dated and belong to the late Victorian period. According to Soodlum's 100 Irish Ballads Volume 1
the Monto was reputed to be the biggest red light district of its kind and was closed down in 1925. The song is extremely disrespectful to the monarchy, "The Czar of Rooshia", "The King of Prooshia" and Vicky of course. Three things I would love to know, dear surfer:
- a) what does "pog mo thoin" mean?
- b) what does "Liathroidi" mean?
- c) and finally how do you pronounce a) and b).
Since writing the above, I've received an e-mail on 18.6.99 from Henry Kirwan, an Irishman formerly of Dublin now living in Penrith, NSW, Australia. In it he says that:
- "pog mo thoin" means "kiss my arse" and
- "Liathroidi" means "balls".
Many thanks for this vital piece of erudition Henry! Dear surfer, if you want to learn more of Henry's pearls of wisdom then please check out his website at Irish Jokes, An Alternative Web Site
The story does not end here. On 14.08.00, Jeremy Stacey sent me the following:
- "pog mo thoin" is pronounced "Pogue Muh Hone" and
- "Liathroidi" is pronounced "Lia' Roadie".
(in "school RP" anyhow [ie, Dublin/Munster hybrid], you purists!!!) He goes on to say that Shane McGowan's band got their original name and record label name (Pogue Mahone) from the Gaelic ...
According to Urban Legend (as fostered by SMcG himself) this was shortened to The Pogues after the BBC refused to play the band's first single:
Thanks a lot Jeremy!