Several summers during my college years I worked in the parts department of a heavy construction equipment firm. When I first started the job, I worked with one of the full-time employees named Mike. Mike would often go about the business of the parts department and periodically spout out, “Oh dear bread and beer, if it wasn’t for Momma I wouldn’t be here.” While Mike was Irish, I never equated this little ditty to an old Irish saying or anything, but I can’t recall ever asking Mike where the saying came from either. It has stuck in my head all the years since. So I Googled it one day and learned that my version was only one of many. In fact, Google didn’t raise my version, just these variants listed below.
"Oh dear, bread and beer, if I was home I shouldn't be here!"
"Oh dear, bread and beer, if I hadn't have married I wouldn't be here."
"Oh dear, bread and beer, if I were rich I wouldn’t be here.”
"Oh dear, bread and beer, if I were dead I wouldn't be here!"
Anyone know anything about the origin of this little expression?