Reviews of Irish Songster Barney Williams’s ‘Paddy’ character

Barney Williams
Barney Williams

In 1853, The Spirit of the Times maintained that Barney Williams, “as a representative of the Irish character, excels chiefly in the impersonation of the rustic peasant: poor in pocket, yet rich in humor, with a smile for his own troubles and a sign for another’s grief.” A reviewer for the New Orleans Picayune in 1854 claimed that “in the presentation of the genuine Paddy, the true Irish peasant,” Barney Williams gave his audiences “the broad, unmistakable, wide awake ‘broth of boy,’ alike ready to fight or shake hands, equally at home with the girls or the boys.” In 1858 the Cork Examiner stated that Irish themselves regarded Williams as a “real Paddy, and a true son of the sod.” While the stage Irishman often appeared as a cross between a buffoon and a savage, the Examiner claimed to see in Williams’s impersonation “the genuine Irishman of humble life – brave, honest, warm hearted, up to all kinds of fun, with no conscientious aversion to a ‘drop of the native,’ a decided taste for getting into scrimmages, and a willingness to go any and every length for a friend. “How his black eyes twinkle, and what fun there is in his face!” marveled one reviewer. “He seems brimful, and running over, with good humour, and looks as if care never had or could touch him . . . “

Source: ‘Twas Only an Irishman’s Dream, p. 86-7.

Also see:

Barney Williams (1823 – 1876), Irish songster, comedian and performer, played for the troops

Barney Williams, Irish songster performed for the soldiers during the Civil War

Barney Williams as "Ragged Pat"

Source: Gleason’s Pictorial, Oct 22, 1853 (p. 264).

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