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Muggie Sha’

Muggy Sha

Turning real life experiences into song

Many of singer Michael Marra’s songs portrayed real or fictional characters, and he often sang about local pubs where people socialised – one of these songs was called ‘Muggie Sha’. This panel reflects the hard life of working women like Margaret Shaw (Muggie Sha’ in Dundee dialect), and acknowledges the role that Dundee’s pubs have always played in bringing local people together.

muggie sha cartoon

1. Muggie Sha’

Michael Marra’s song was the story of a fictional character, but Muggie was inspired by real women. In Edwardian times, many women in Dundee were the main breadwinner and they had the means, and the confidence, to socialise in the city’s bars. Some of the more disorderly women appeared on a blacklist of barred individuals or ‘known inebriates’ that were circulated by Dundee police at that time. Later, the posters were compiled in a book which Michael saw, and he used them as the starting point for his song. Although down on their luck, troubled, and banned from the city’s pubs, Michael felt these women deserved sympathy and recognition.


2. Book of Inebriates

The ‘Known Inebriates’ book was published in 1905, and it included the names of people who had been convicted three times in a 12-month period, under the Inebriates Act of 1898. Those pictured in the book could be fined up to 40 shillings if they tried to buy alcohol again, and landlords could be fined up to £20 for serving them. Some of the women are shown on this panel in order to acknowledge the hard lives that they led and celebrate them as the ‘breadwinners’ in their day.


3. Lyrics from ‘Muggie Sha’

This is the chorus from Michael Marra’s song:

“But eh’m no as bad as Muggie Sha

She hiz tae drink at the tap of the La’

Barred from Bissells, me ana

But eh’m no as bad as Muggie Sha”

4. Local bars

Around the edges of the panel are some of the pubs in Dundee that participated in the ban:

Bissells (The Polepark Bar) – Polepark Road

The Old Toll Bar – Lochee

The Phoenix – Nethergate

The Pillars – Crichton Street

Mennies (The Speedwell Bar) – Perth Road

Fisherman’s Tavern – Broughty Ferry

Taybridge Bar – Perth Road

Ladywell Tavern – Victoria Road


5. Beers produced at the time

With the current craft beer revival, it’s interesting to look back at what was being brewed in the Dundee area and served up in bars the early 1900s. They included:

Ballingall’s Dundee Strong Ale

George Willsher & Co. Bitter Table Beer

Robb’s Bitter Beer

WH Brown Imperial Stout

This panel was stitched by

Jane McCool

Margaret Purvis

Sheila Watson 

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