Dirty Old Town

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"Dirty Old Town"
Dirty Old Town Dubliners.jpg
Single by The Dubliners
from the album Drinkin' and Courtin'
B-side "Peggy Gordon"
Genre Folk, Pop
    Label Major Minor
    Songwriter(s) Ewan MacColl
    Producer(s) Tommy Scott
    The Dubliners singles chronology
    "Maids When You're Young Never Wed An Old Man"
    "Dirty Old Town"
    "Hand Me Down My Bible"

    "Dirty Old Town" is a song written by Ewan MacColl in 1949 that was made popular by the Dubliners and has been recorded by many others.



    The song was written about Salford, Lancashire, England, the city where MacColl was born and brought up. It was originally composed for an interlude to cover an awkward scene change in his 1949 play Landscape with Chimneys, set in a North of England industrial town, [1] [2] but with the growing popularity of folk music the song became a standard. The first verse refers to the gasworks croft, which was a piece of open land adjacent to the gasworks, and then speaks of the old canal, which was the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal. The line in the original version about smelling a spring on “the Salford wind” is sometimes sung as “the sulphured wind”. But in any case, most singers tend to drop the Salford reference altogether, in favour of calling the wind “smoky”.

    A portion of the canal referenced by the song Ladyshore Waterson.JPG
    A portion of the canal referenced by the song
    Salford Docks, another place mentioned in the song Manchester Dock No 9.jpg
    Salford Docks, another place mentioned in the song

    The Pogues' version of the song is played during the team walk-on at Salford City FC. [3]


    The Dubliners version

    Chart (1968)Peak
    Ireland (IRMA) [4] 10


    RegionCertification Certified units/sales
    United Kingdom (BPI) [5]
    The Pogues version

    Double-dagger-14-plain.png Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

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    1. Ewan MacColl Songbook
    2. Rogers, Jude (29 June 2020). "Dirty Old Town — why Ewan MacColl wanted to take an axe to his neighbourhood". Financial Times . Retrieved 16 April 2022.
    3. Brent, Harry. "'Dirty Old Town' is about ENGLAND - not Ireland - as secrets about famous Pogues and Dubliners song are revealed". The Irish Post. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
    4. "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Dirty Old Town". Irish Singles Chart.
    5. "British single certifications – Pogues – Dirty Old Town". British Phonographic Industry . Retrieved 18 February 2022.