William Percy French
Biography of William Percy French
William Percy French was the son of a landlord and a clergyman's daughter. He studied engineering at Trinity College, where he spent a lot of time in song writing, dramatics, banjo playing and watercolour painting. After graduation he was on the verge of emigrating to Canada, but was appointed to a post in a government drainage scheme in Cavan. He was a self-styled 'Inspector of Drains' for seven years.
In 1891, his first wife, Ettie, died in childbirth, as did his baby daughter. he toured the country on his bicycle with a box of paints, painting and performing. He developed a one-man show, where he sang the songs he composed. At fifty, French moved to London and performed on stage until his death in 1920.
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My brother Andy said, that for a soldier he would go,
So great excitement came upon the house of McElroe.
My father sold a bog-hole to equip him for the war.
And my mother sold the cushions of her Sunday jaunting car.
And when brave Andy reach'd the front, 'twas furious
work he made,
They appointed him a private in the Crocodile Brigade.
The sound of Andy's battle cry struck terror thro' the foe.
His foot was on the desert and his name was McElroe.