Alfred Perceval Graves.

Songs of Irish wit and humour online

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I have looked abroad o'er the beach alone :
But till to-day on the bursting brine
Saw I never a bark like thine ! '
On the tide top, &c.

' God of the air ! ' the seamen shout
When they see us tossing the brine about ;
Give us the shelter of strand or rock,
Or through and through us she goes with a shock ! '
On the tide top, c.

( Trans, from the Celtic by Sir Samuel Ferguson. )


Connal, acushla, turn the clay,
And show the lumpers the light, gossoon !
For we must toil this autumn day,

With Heaven's help, till rise of the moon.
Our corn is stacked, our hay secure,

Thank God ! and nothing, my boy, remains,
But to pile the potatoes safe on the flure,
Before the coming November rains.
The peasant's mine is his harvest still ;
So now, my lads, let's work with a will ;
Work hand and foot,
Work spade and hand,
Work spade and hand

Through the crumbly mould ;
The blessed fruit
That grows at the root
Is the real gold
Of Ireland


Och ! I wish that Maurice and Mary dear

Were singing beside us this soft day ;
Of course they're far better off than here :

But whether they're happier who can say ?
I've heard when it's morn with us, 'tis night
With them on the far Australian shore ;
Well, Heaven be about them with visions bright,
And send them childer and money galore.
With us there's many a mouth to fill,
And so, my boy, let's work with a will ;
Work hand and foot,
Work spade and hand,
Work spade and hand

Through the brown dry mould ;
The blessed fruit
That grows at the root
Is the real gold
Of Ireland.

Ah, then, Paddy O'Reardan, you thundering Turk,

Is it coorting you are in the blessed noon.
Come over here, Katty, and mind your work,

Or I'll see if your mother can't change your tune.
Well, youth will be youth, as you know, Mike,

Sixteen and twenty for each were meant ;
But, Pat, in the name of the fairies, avick,

Defer your proposals till after Lent ;



And as love in this country lives mostly still
On potatoes dig, boy, dig with a will ;
Work hand and foot,
Work spade and hand,
Work spade and hand

Through the harvest mould ;
The blessed fruit
That grows at the root
Is the real gold
Of Ireland.

Down the bridle road the neighbours ride,
Through the light ash shade, by the wheaten

sheaves ;
And the children sing on the mountain side

In the sweet blue smoke of the burning leaves.
As the great sun sets in glory furled,

Faith, it 's grand to think, as I watch his face,
As he never sets on the English world,
He never, lad, sets on the Irish race.

In the West, in the South, new Irelands still
Grow up in his light. Come, work with a will ;-
Work hand and foot,
Work spade and hand,
Work spade and hand

Through the native mould ;


The blessed fruit
That grows at the root
Is the real gold
Of Ireland.

But look ! the round moon, yellow as corn,

Comes up from the sea in the deep blue calm ;
It scarcely seems a day since morn ;

Well, the heel of the evening to you, ma'am !
God bless the moon ! for many a night,

As I restless lay on a troubled bed,
.When rent was due, her quietest light

Has flattered with dreams my poor old head.
But see the basket remains to fill :
Come, girls, be alive; boys, dig with a will ;
Work hand and foot,
Work spade and hand,
Work spade and hand

Through the moonlit mould ;
The blessed fruit
That grows at the root
Is the real gold
Of Ireland.


o 2


h F priests we can offer a charmin' variety,
Far renowned for larnin' and piety ;
Still, I'd advance ye, widout impropriety,

Father O'Flynn as the flower of them all.
Here's a health to you, Father O'Flynn,
Slainte, and slainte, and slainte agin ^
Powerfulest preacher, and
Tinderest teacher, and
Kindliest creature in ould Donegal.

Don't talk of your Provost and Fellows of Trinity,
Famous for ever at Greek and Latinity,
Dad, and the divils and all at Divinity,
Father O'Flynn 'd make hares of them all !
Come, I venture to give ye my word,
Never the likes of his logic was heard,


Down from mythology
Into thayology,

Troth ! and conchology, if he'd the call.
Here's a health, &c.

Och ! Father O'Flynn, you've the wonderful way

wid you,

All ould sinners are wishful to pray wid you,
All the young childer are wild for to play wid you,
You've such a way wid you, Father avick.
Still, for all you're so gentle a soul
Gad ! you've your flock in the grandest control :
Checking the crazy ones,
Coaxin' onaisy ones,
Lifting the lazy ones on wid the stick.
Here's a health, &c.

And though quite avoidin' all foolish frivolity,
Still at all seasons of innocent jollity,
Where was the play-boy could claim an equality
At comicality, Father, wid you ?

Once the Bishop looked grave at your jest,
Till this remark set him off with the rest ;
' Is it lave gaiety
All to the laity ?

Cannot the clergy be Irishmen too ? '
Here's a health, &c.


all knew Tom Moody, the whipper-in, well ;
The bell just done tolling was honest Tom's


A more able sportsman ne'er follow'd a hound,
Thro 7 a country well known to him fifty miles round.
No hound ever open'd with Tom near the wood,
But he'd challenge the tone, and could tell if 'twere


And all with attention would eagerly mark
When he cheer'd up the pack, c Hark ! to Rookwood,
hark ! hark !

High ! wind him ! and cross him !
Now, Rattler, boy ! Hark !'

Six crafty earth-stoppers, in hunter's green drest,
Supported poor Tom to an * earth ' made for rest ;


His horse, which he styled his * Old Soul,' next appear'd,
On whose forehead the brush of the last fox was

rear'd ;

Whip, cap, boots, and spurs, in a trophy were bound,
And here and there follow'd an old straggling hound.
Ah ! no more at his voice yonder vales will they trace,
Nor the welkin resound to the burst in the chase !

With ' High ovei ! now press him !

Tally-ho ! Tally-ho ! '

Thus Tom spoke his friends ere he gave up his breath :
1 Since I see you're resolved to be in at the death,
One favour bestow 'tis the last I shall crave
Give a rattling view-holloa thrice over my grave ;
And unless at that warning I lift up my head,
My boys, you may fairly conclude I am dead ! '
Honest Tom was obey'd, and the shout rent the sky,
For every voice joined in the tally-ho cry,
c Tally-ho ! Hark, forward !
Tally-ho ! Tally-ho ! '



T3) Y your leave, Larry Grogan,

Enough has been spoken ;
'Tis time to give over your sonnet, your sonnet.

Come, listen to mine,

'Tis far better than thine,
Though not half the time was spent on it, spent on it.

Oh ! 'tis of a buck slain

In this very campaign :
To let him live longer 'twere pity, 'twere pity ;

For fat and for haunches,

For head and for branches,
Exceeding the mayor of a city, a city.


A council assembled

(Who'd think but he trembled ?)
Of lads of good spirit, well mounted, well mounted ;

Each with whip and with cap on,

And spurs made at Ripon,
To the number of twenty were counted, were counted.

Off, a score, we went bounding,

Sweet horns were sounding,
Each youth filPd the air with a whoop and a halloo ;

Dubourg, were he there,

Such sweet music to hear,
Would leave his Cremona, and follow, and follow.

Knockaderk and Knockaney,

And hills twice as many,

Saw us fly o'er their stone walls, and hedges, and

He skimmed o'er the grounds,

But to baffle our hounds
Was ne'er yet in any buck's breeches, buck's breeches.

Four hours he held out

Most surprisingly stout,
Till at length to his fate he submitted, submitted ;

His throat being cut up,

The poor culprit put up,
To the place where he came was remitted, remitted.


A place most enchanting,

Where nothing was wanting

That .poor hungry huntsman could wish, sir, could
wish, sir.

Though our number was there,

Yet of delicate fare
For every man was a dish, sir, a dish, sir.

We fell-to with fury,

Like a long-famish'd jury,
Nor stay'd we for grace to our dinner, our dinner ;

The butler a-sweating,

The knives all a- whetting ;
The edge of each stomach was keener, was keener.

Oh ! the bumpers went round,

With an elegant sound,

Chink, chink, like sweet bells, went the glasses, the

We drank Queen and King

And each other fine thing,
Then bumper'd the beautiful lasses, sweet lasses.

There was Singleton (Cherry),
And sweet Sally Curry,

Miss Croker, Miss Bligh, and Miss Prittie, Miss
Prittie ;


With lovely Miss Persse,
That subject for verse,
Who shall ne'er be forgot in my ditty, my ditty.

With a great many more,

From fifteen to a score ;
Oh ! had you but seen them together, together,

Such charms you'd discover,

You'd pity the lover,
And look on St. James's a feather, a feather.

Long prosper this county,

And high-sheriff's bounty,
Where thus we indulge, and make merry, make merry ;

For, jovial as we are,

We'll puff away care
To poor busy Robin, and Fleury, and Fleury.


^'RYAN was a man of might

Whin Ireland was a nation,
But poachin' was his heart's delight

And constant occupation.
He had an ould militia gun,

And sartin sure his aim was ;
He gave the keepers many a run
And wouldn't mind the game laws.

St Pathrick wunst was passin' by

O'Ryan's little houldin',
And, as the saint felt wake and dhry,

He thought he'd enther bould in.
1 0'Ryan,' says the saint, ' avick !

To praich at Thurles I'm goin',
So let me have a rasher quick,

And a dhrop of Innishowen.'


c No rasher will I cook for you,

While betther is to spare, sir,
But here's a jug of mountain dew,

And there's a rattlin' hare, sir.'
St. Pathrick he looked mighty sweet,

And, says he, ' Good luck attind you,
And, when you're in your windin' sheet,

It's up to heaven I'll sind you.'

O'Ryan gave his pipe a whiff

* Them tidin's is thransportin' ;
But may I ax your saintship if

There's any kind of sportin' ? '
St. Pathrick said, 'A lion's there,

Two bears, a bull, and cancer ?
1 Bedad,' says Mick, ' the huntin's rare ;

St. Pathrick, I'm your man, sir.'

So, to conclude my song aright,

For fear I'd tire your patience,
You'll see O'Ryan any night

Amid the constellations.
And Venus follows in his track,

Till Mars grows jealous raally,
But, faith, he fears the Irish knack

Of handling the shillaly.



ELL, never a pleasanter meal I've eat,
Thank God, than this that now is done :
Come, boys and girls who love the sun,
And let us go out into the wheat.
Mary, alanna, hand me quick

My bran-new sickle down from the thatch,
And take this kiss for handsel. Dick,

Just put a string about the latch,
Lestways the pig should burst the door,

And in the cradle fright the child,
The purtiest your mother bore.

As 'tis the last 'twould drive her wild
If ill-luck happened him. All right :
With hearts as light as sun is bright,
Now for a happy harvest day,
Reapers and binders, young and gay :
Bend in the heat,
And close to your feet


Cut down the wheat

We sowed in spring ;
And lay it bound
Light on the ground,
While lads around

And lasses sing.

A glorious morning, hot and still,
There's not a cloud, and scarce a sound,
Except where yonder from the mound

Drums the wheel of the whitewashed mill.

How strong the great sun showers his rays
Upon the corn they've turned to gold !

If it could hear us sing its praise,
As once the people did of old,

Its ears would better like the tune
Chiefly if young Rose yonder sung

Than any breeze of morn or noon
That ever moved its stems among ;

For there's no music like the voice

Of a colleen that's glad, my boys ;

And we have reason just to drop

Upon our knees for this fine crop :
Bend in the heat,
And close to your feet
Cut down the wheat

We sowed in spring ;


And lay it bound
Light on the ground,
While lads around
And lasses sing.

Hurrah ! my friends, you've done your best
Half the field cut with half the day !
Let us be gay : all work is play
When it brings profit. Now for a rest,
And drink beside the streamlet blue.
How pleasantly the thrushes sing,

And see, from town the sparrows, too,
Have come to join our harvesting :

How close the whistling swallows fly
Not one of them that hasn't come

Up from the far hot Southern sky,
Perhaps from Greece or holy Rome.
If from America they flew,
I'd like them more 'twixt me and you,
For they'd have seen our friends oghone !
Well, the sun sees them, and the moon :
But, up ! and beat,
My boys, complete
This field of wheat

We sowed in spring ;
And lay it bound
Light on the ground,


While lads around
And lasses sing.

For politics I don't much care
Upon a day so fine, because
Better are Nature's old Corn Laws
Than them whose chaff was wonst our share ;
In Peter's heart young Kate at least

Has fixity of tenure eh ?
And for improvements made, the priest
Will put them in the lease some day ;
And if ever we had a Parliament

In College Green, Rory, my boy,
Sure you'd be sent to represent

The reapers but for Ellen Hoey :
Such whispering ! and how long, you thief,
Two sweethearts take to bind a sheaf !
But as you're both in want of brogues,
And even love's path has thorns, ye rogues
Bend in the heat,
Close to your feet,
Cut down the wheat

We sowed in spring ;
And lay it bound
Light on the ground,
While lads around
And lasses sing.


Yon sun which sinks the hills behind
A finer harvest never saw ;
The wheat will feed us, and the straw
Will shield us from the winter wind.
And now the last thrush leaves the tree,

Our cottage turf-smoke rises blue
Up to the sickle moon, as we

Plod homeward in the heavy dew ;
No other Race can work so much

On little, as we can, they say,
And would we had to reap as rich
A field all night, as this to-day.
But now for a dance, and then to rest

After a taste of true potheen ;
To drink to friends in the East and West
And to old Ireland's isle of green !
For all the heat,
Our work was sweet ;
Now with our feet

The floor shall ring ;
And friend with friend
Their songs shall blend,
To happily end

Our harvesting !



SbT OW) thin> what has become of Thad Y O'Farrell?
The honest poor man, what's delay in* him,

<~_ >

Oh, the thrush might be dumb, and the lark cease to

Whin his music began to comether the sky.

Three summers have gone since we've missed you,

From the weddin', and patron, and fair on the

green ;

In an hour to St. John we'll light up the tar-barrel
But ourselves we're not flatter'n' that thin you'll be

O'Thady, we've watched and we've waited for ever,
To see your ould self steppin' into the town

p 2


Wid your corduroys patched so clane and so clever,
And the pride of a Guelph in your smile or your

Till some one used say, f Here's Thady O'Farrell ; '
And, 'God bless the good man ! let's go meet him,'

we cried
And wid this from their play, and wid that from their

All the little ones ran to be first at your side.

Soon amongst us you'd stand, wid the ould people's

As they lean'd from the door to look out at you


Wid the colleen's kiss-hand, and the childer's caressin',
And the boys fightin', sure, which 'd stand your first

Thin you'd give us the news out of Cork and Kil-

Had O'Flynn married yet ? Was ould Mack still at

work ?

Shine's political views Barry's last bit of blarney
And the boys you had met on their way to New


And when from the sight of our say-frontin' village
The far-frownin' Blasquet stole into the shade,

And the warnin' of night called up from the tillage
The girl wid her basket, the boy wid his spade :

By the glowin' turf-fire, or the harvest moon's glory,
In the close- crowded ring that around you we


We'd no other desire than your heart-thrillin' story,
Or the song that you'd sing, or the tune that you

Till you'd ax, wid a leap from your seat in the middle,
And a shuffle and slide of your foot on the floor,

1 Will we try a jig-step, boys and girls, to the fiddle ; '
* Faugh a ballagh,' we cried, ' for a jig, to be sure. 7

For whinever you'd start jig or planxty so merry,
Wid their caperin' twirls, and their rollickin' runs,

Where's the heel or the heart in the kingdom of Kerry
Of the boys and the girls wasn't wid you at once ?

So you'd tune wid a sound that arose as delightin'
As our old colleen's voice, so sweet and so clear,

As she coyly wint round, wid a curtsy invitin'
The best of the boys for the fun to prepare.


For a minute or two, till the couples were ready,
On your shoulder and chin the fiddle lay quiet ;

Then down came your bow so quick and so steady,
And away we should spin to the left or the right !

Thin how Micky Dease forged steps was a wonder,
And well might our women of Roseen be proud

Such a face, such a grace, and her darlin' feet under,
Like two swallows skimmin' the skirts of a cloud !

Thin, Thady, ochone ! come back, for widout you
We are never as gay as we were in the past :

Oh, Thady, mavrone, why thin I wouldn't doubt you.
Huzzah ! boys, huzzah ! here's O'Farrell at last !


ruT EAVE at the windlass ! Heave O, cheerly,

men !

Heave all at once, with a will !
The tide's quickly making,
Our cordage is creaking,
The water has put on a frill,
Heave O !

Fare-you-well, sweethearts ! Heave O, cheerly, men !
Shore gambarado and sport !
The good ship all ready,
Each dog-vane is steady,
The wind blowing dead out of port,
Heave O !

Once in blue water Heave O, cheerly, men !
Blow it from north or from south ;


She'll stand to it tightly,
And curtsy politely,
And carry a bone in her mouth,
Heave O !

Short cruise or long cruise Heave O, cheerly, men !
Jolly Jack Tar thinks it one,
No latitude dreads he
Of White, Black, or Red sea,
Great icebergs, or tropical sun,
Heave O !

One other turn, and Heave O, cheerly, men !
Heave, and good-bye to the shore !
Our money, how went it ?
We shared it and spent it ;
Next year we'll come back with some more,
Heave O !



k H, where are you going so early? he said ;
Good luck go with you, my pretty maid ;
To tell you my mind I'm half afraid
But I wish I were your sweetheart.
When the morning sun is shining low,
And the cocks in every farmyard crow,
I'll carry your pail,
O'er hill and dale,
And I'll go with you a-milking.

I'm going a-milking, sir, says she,
Through the dew, and across the lea ;
You ne'er would even yourself to me,
Or take me for your sweetheart.
When the morning sun, &c.


Now give me your milking-stool a while,
To carry it down to yonder stile ;
I'm wishing every step a mile,
And myself your only sweetheart.
When the morning sun, &c.

Oh, here's the stile in under the tree,
And there's the path in the grass for me,
And I thank you kindly, sir, says she,
And wish you a better sweetheart.
When the morning sun, &c.

Now give me your milking-pail, says he,
And while we're going across the lea,
Pray reckon your master's cows to me,
Although I'm not your sweetheart.
When the morning sun, &c.

Two of them red, and two of them white,
Two of them yellow, and silky bright :
She told him her master's cows aright,
Though he was not her sweetheart.
When the morning sun, &c.

She sat and milk'd in the morning sun,
And when her milking was over and done,


She found him waiting, all as one
As if he were her sweetheart.
When the morning sun, &c.

He freely offer'd her his heart and hand :
Now she has a farm at her command,
And cows of her own to graze the land :
Success to all true sweethearts !
When the morning sun, &c.



kJ ARK ! hark ! jolly sportsmen, a while to my tale,
Which to gain your attention I'm sure cannot


'Tis of lads and of horses, and dogs that ne'er tire,
O'er stone walls and hedges, thro' dale, bog, and brier ;
A pack of such hounds, and a set of such men,
Tis fifty to one if you meet with again ;
Had Nimrod, the mightiest of hunters, been there,
Fore-gad he'd have shook like an aspen for fear.

In seventeen hundred and forty and four,
The fifth of December, I think 'twas no more,
At five in the morning, by most of the clocks,
We rode from Kilruddery in search of a fox.
The Leighlinstown landlord, the brave Owen Bray,
And Johnny Adair, too, were with us that day ;
Joe Debil, Hal Preston those huntsmen so stout
Dick Holmes, some few others : and so we set out.


We cast off our hounds for an hour or more ;

When Wanton set up a most tuneable roar,

'Hark ! Wanton,' cried Joe, and the rest were not

slack :

For Wanton 's no trifler esteemed by the pack ;
Old Bounty and Collier came readily in,
And every hound joined in the musical din :
Had Diana been there, she'd been pleased to the life,
And one of the lads got a Goddess to wife.

Ten minutes past nine was the time of the day
When Reynard broke cover, and this was his way
As strong from Kilegar, as tho' he feared none,
Away he brush'd round by the house of Kilternan,
To Carrickmines thence, and to Cherrywood then,
Steep Shankhill he climbed, and to Ballyman glen,
Bray Common he crossed, leap'd Lord Anglesey's wall,
And seemed to say, ' Little I care for you all.'

He ran Bushes Grove up to Carbury Byrns
Joe Debil, Hal Preston, kept leading by turns ;
The earth it was open, yet he was so stout,
Tho' he might have got in, still he chose to keep out ;
To Malpas high hills was the way that he flew,
At Dalkey's stone common we had him in view ;
He drove on to Bullock, then slunk Glenagarry,
And so on to Monkstown, where Laura grew weary.


Thro' Rochestown wood, like an arrow he passed,
And came to the steep hills of Dalkey at last ;
There gallantly plunged himself into the sea,
And said in his heart, ' None can now follow me ; '
But soon, to his cost, he perceived that no bounds
Could stop the pursuit of the staunch-mettled hounds :
His policy here did not serve him a rush,
Five couple of Tartars were hard at his brush.

To recover the shore then again was his drift ;
But ere he could reach to the top of the clift,
He found both of speed and of daring a lack,
Being waylaid and killed by the rest of the pack.
At his death there were present the lads I have sung,
Save Larry, who, riding a garron, was flung :
Thus ended at length a most wonderful chase,
That held us five hours and ten minutes space.

We returned to Kilruddery's plentiful board,
Where dwelt hospitality, truth, and my Lord ; ]
We talked o'er the chase, and we toasted the health
Of the man who ne'er struggled for place or for

' Owen Bray balked a leap,' says Hal Preston ; 'twas

"Twas shameful,' cried Jack, 'by the great L - -

G - !'

1 Lord Meath.


Said Preston, ' I holloa'd, " Get on, tho' you fall ;
Or I'll leap over you, your blind gelding and all." '

Each glass then we quaffed to freedom and sport,
For party affairs we consigned to the Court :
Thus we finished the rest of the day, and the night,
In gay flowing bumpers and social delight.
Then till the next meeting bid farewell each brother,
And we went on our way, well pleased with each

other ;

As Phoebus befriended our earlier roam,
So Luna took care of conducting us home.




send round the wine, and leave points ot

To simpleton sages and reasoning fools ;
This moment's a flower too fair and brief,

To be wither'd and stain'd by the dust of the

schools :

Your glass may be purple, and mine may be blue,
But while they are fill'd from the same bright


The fool, who would quarrel for difference of hue,
Deserves not the comfort they shed o'er the soul.

Shall I ask the brave soldier who fights by my side
In the cause of mankind, if our creeds agree ?

Shall I give up the friend I have valued and tried,
If he kneel not before the same altar with me?

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