Alfred Perceval Graves.

Songs of Irish wit and humour online

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)ADDY McCabe was dying one day,

And Father Molloy he came to confess him ;
Paddy pray'd hard he would make no delay,
But forgive him his sins and make haste for to

bless him.

' First tell me your sins,' says Father Molloy,
'For I'm thinking you've not been a very good boy.'
1 Oh,' says Paddy, ' so late in the evenin', I fear
'Twould throuble you such a long story to hear,
For you've ten long miles o'er the mountains to go,
While the road / ve to travel's much longer you know.
So give us your blessin' and get in the saddle,
To tell all my sins my poor brain it would addle ;
And the docther gave ordhers to keep me so quiet
'Twould disturb me to tell all my sins, if I'd thry it ;


And your Reverence has towld us, unless we tell #//,
'Tis worse than not makin' confession at all.
So I'll say in a word I'm no very good boy
And, therefore, your blessin', sweet Father Molloy.'

1 Well, I'll read from a book,' says Father Molloy,

1 The manifold sins that humanity's heir to ;
And when you hear those that your conscience annoy,
You'll just squeeze my hand, as acknowledging


Then the father began the dark roll of iniquity,
And Paddy, thereat, felt his conscience grow rickety,
And he gave such a squeeze that the priest gave a


1 Oh, murdher !' says Paddy, 'clon't read any more,
For, if you keep readin', by all that is thrue,
Your Reverence's fist will be soon black and blue ;
Besides, to be throubled my conscience begins,
That your Reverence should have any hand in my sins,
So you'd betther suppose I committed them all,
For whether they're great ones, or whether they're


Or if they're a dozen, or if they're fourscore,
'Tis your Reverence knows how to absolve them,

astore ;

So I'll say in a word, I'm no very good boy
And, therefore, your blessin', sweet Father Molloy.'


1 Well,' says Father Molloy, ' if your sins I forgive,

So you must forgive all your enemies truly ;
And promise me also that, if you should live,

You'll leave off your old tricks, and begin to live


* I forgive ev'rybody,' says Pat, with a groan,
Except that big vagabone Micky Malone ;

And him I will murdher if ever I can '

1 Tut, tut ! ' says the priest, ' you're a very bad man ;
For without your forgiveness, and also repentance,
You'll ne'er go to Heaven, and that is my sentence.'
' Poo ! ' says Paddy McCabe, ' that's a very hard case
With your Reverence and Heaven I'm content to

make pace ;
But with Heaven and your Reverence I wondher^-

Och hone
You would think of comparin' that blackguard


But since I'm hard press'd and that I must forgive,
I forgive if I die but as sure as I live
That ugly blackguard I will surely desthroy !
So, now for your blessin', sweet Father Molloy ! '



f MARRIED a wife for to sit by me, which
makes me sorely to repent :
Matches, they say, are made in heaven, but

mine was for a penance sent.
I soon became a servant to her, to milk the cows and

black her shoon :

For woman's ways, they must have pleasure, and the
poor man's labour's never done.

The very first year that we were married, she gave to

me a pretty babe :
She sat me down to rock its cradle, and give it cordial

when it waked :
If it cried, she would bitterly scould me, and if it

bawled, away I should run ;
For women's ways, they must have pleasure, and the

poor man's labour's never done.



So all ye young men that are inclined to marry, be

sure and marry a loving wife,
And do not marry my wife's sister, or she will plague

you all your life ;
Do not marry her mother's daughter, or she will

grieve your heart full sore ;
But take from me my wife, and welcome and then

my care and trouble is o'er.




vvPIMMY, aghar, hand me my pipe,

In truth I'm as wearied as man can be ;
My eye is as dim as the winter sea,
And my nose as sharp as the bill of a snipe ;
For here for a week, a week and more,
I have been labouring body and sowl,
Just sustained by whisky and sassages,
While I touch the finishing passages
Of my Donnybrook rigmarole.

Saints be about us ! what are they driving at ?

All sorts of people are taking their share
All have their heads together conniving at

At the destruction of Donnybrook Fair.
Once in the good ould times of the city,

M.P.'s, farmers, the rich, and the rare,


Gentlemen, nobles, the wise and the witty,

Went for a trifle of element there.
Then was the rale indulgement in jollity,

Devil a one of them cared who was who !

All took their glass of the old mountain dew,
And their hop in the tent on the ground of equality.
But now it is over, this is the last of them

This is the last ould fair that we'll see ;
Now we must live as we can on the past of them

Such is the Corporation's decree.

Ah, never again in this isle shall be seen

The rale boys up to the sweet oaken science !

Trailing their coats in courageous defiance,
And shouting the pillalu over the green.
Never again shall we see the shillelagh

Joyously splintering forehead and limb,
Or hear Molly Finucane crying, ' Oh, mela

Murder ! what have you done with my Jim ? '
Never again 'mid the turmoil or rattle

Shall we assemble to shoulder the door,
Bearing dear friends, through the thick of the battle,

Faithfully home to their widows, asthore :

Leaving the pleasant old ground, when the short night
Of August was melting in matinal dew,
With a rib or two dinged or an eye black and blue,

Or a wound that would lay us up snug for a fortnight ;


While a rattle of sticks in the distance behind
Made old Donnybrook look like a wood in a wind.
Now all is over, this is the last of them,

This is the last ould fair that we'll see ;
Now we must live as we can on the past of them
Such is the Corporation's decree.



fHE night before Larry was stretched,
The boys they all paid him a visit ;
A bit in their sacks, too, they fetched,

They sweated their duds till they riz it ;
For Larry was ever the lad,

When a friend was condemned to the squeezer,
But he'd pawn all the rags that he had
Just to help the poor boy to the sneezer,
And moisten his gob 'fore he died.

1 I'm sorry now, Larry,' says I,

' To see you in this situation ;
Ton my conscience, my lad, I don't lie,

I'd rather it had been my own station.'
4 Och hone ! it's all over,' says he ;

4 For the neckcloth I'm forced to put on !


And by this time to-morrow you'll see,
Your Larry will be dead as mutton :

Bekays why, dear, his courage was good.'

The boys they came crowding in fast ;

They drew all their stools round about him.
Six glims round his crap- case they placed ;

He couldn't be well waked without 'em. f
I axed if he was fit to die,

Without having first duly repented ?
Says Larry, { That's all in my eye,

It's only what gownsmen invented
To get a fat bit for themselves.'

Then the cards being called for, they played,

Till Larry found one of them cheated.
He made a smart blow at his head,

The boy being easily heated.
' Oh ! be de Holy, you teef,

I'll scuttle your nob with my daddle ;
You cheat me bekays I'm in grief,

But soon I'll demolish your noddle,
And leave you your claret to drink.'

Then in came the priest with his book,
He spoke him so smooth and so civil,

Larry tipped him a Kilmainham look,
And pitched his big wig to the devil.


Then stooping a little his head,

To get a sweet drop of the bottle,
And pitiful sighing, he said,

1 Oh, the hemp will be soon round my throttle,
And choke my poor windpipe to death ! '

So moving these last words he spoke,

We all vented our tears in a shower ;
For my part, I thought my heart broke

To see him cut down like a flower.
On his travels we watched him next day ;

Oh, the hangman, I thought I could kill him !
Not one word poor Larry did say,

Nor change till he came to ( King William,'
Och, then, dear, his colour turned white.

When he came to the nubbling chit,

He was tucked up so neat and so pretty ;

The rumbler jogged off with his feet,
And he died with his face to the city.


1 This famous song has been long cruelly attributed to Dean
Burrowes of Cork ; but I have indisputable evidence before me
that the Dean had no hand at all in the writing of it. Yet
another ecclesiastic, the Rev. Francis Mahony (Father Prout),
took a great deal of trouble to touch up the song, altering
passages, and even adding five lines of his own to the original,
which I now reproduce verbatim from an early ballad edition
furnished me by one of the leading living authorities on Irish
humorous verse. EDITOR.



WOMAN of Three Cows, agragh ! don't let

your tongue thus rattle !
Oh, don't be saucy, don't be stiff, because you

may have cattle.
I have seen and, here's my hand to you, I only say

what's true

A many a one with twice your stock not half so proud
as you.

Good luck to you, don't scorn the poor, and don't be

their despiser ;
For worldly wealth soon melts away, and cheats the

very miser :
And death soon strips the proudest wreath from

haughty human brows.
Then don't be stiff and don't be proud, good Woman

of Three Cows !


See where Momonia's heroes lie, proud Owen More's

'Tis they that won the glorious name and had the

grand attendants !
If they were forced to bow to fate, as every mortal

Can you be proud, can you be stiff, my Woman of

Three Cows ?

The brave sons of the Lord of Clare, they left the

land to mourning ;
Movrone ! for they were banish'd, with no hope of

their returning
Who knows in what abodes of want those youths were

driven to house ?
Yet you can give yourself these airs, O Woman of

Three Cows !

Oh, think of Donnell of the Ships, the chief whom

nothing daunted
See how he fell in distant Spain, unchronicled, un-

chanted !

He sleeps, the great O'Sullivan, where thunder cannot

Then ask yourself, should you be proud, good Woman

of Three Cows !


O'Ruark, Maguire, those souls of fire, whose names

are shrin'd in story
Think how their high achievements once made Erin's

greatest glory
Yet now their bones lie mouldering under weeds and

cypress boughs,
And so, for all your pride, will yours, O Woman of

Three Cows !

Th J O'Carrolls also, famed when fame was only for

the boldest,
Rest in forgotten sepulchres with Erin's best and

oldest ;

Yet who so great as they of yore in battle or carouse ?
Just think of that, and hide your head, good Woman

of Three Cows !

Your neighbour's poor, and you, it seems, are big with

vain ideas,
Because, inagh ! youVe got three cows one more, I

see, than she has ;
That tongue of yours wags more at times than charity

But, if you're strong, be merciful, great Woman of

Three Cows !


The summing up.

Now, there you go ! You still, of course, keep up

your scornful bearing,
And I'm too poor to hinder you but, by the cloak

I'm wearing !
If I had but four cows myself, even though you were

my spouse,
I'd thwack you well to cure your pride, my Woman of

Three Cows !

( Translated from the Celtic by
James Clarence Mangan. )



f'M a brand from the burning, a genuine saint,
Newly purged and set free from Papistical taint ;
Yea, I'm one of that holy, that sanctified troop
Whose souls have been chastened by flannel and soup

I'll tell how so blessed a change came about :

I always was lazy, a slouch, and a lout ;

I never was willing to delve or to dig,

But I looked for support to my wife and the pig.

My spirit was never confused or perplexed

By the talk in this world about things in the next ;

But I felt I'd be certain of one life of bliss,

If some one would feed me for nothing in this.

And so by a ditch near my cabin I lay,
With my front to the sun, on a hot summer day,
When the Reverend Oliver Stiggins came by,
And attracted my gaze by the white of his eye.


He spoke, and he said : 1 1 perceive by your face,
Wretched man, that you're much unacquainted with


' Very true, sir,' said I, ' sure I scarce know the taste
Of the broth or the flesh of a four-footed baste.'

Then he bade me arise and proceed with him home,
Till he'd give me some proofs of the errors of Rome.
I went, and the clinchers that Oliver chose
Were a full and complete suit of second-hand clothes.

I felt at the moment the breeches went on
That half of my ancient religion was gone ;
Much was done by a vest buttoned up to the throat,
But the grand hit of all was a rusty black coat.

The hat was convincing, as one might expect,
The necktie itself had a certain effect ;
Then to pluck away error right out from the roots,
He covered my croobs with a new pair of boots.

Then he raised up his hands and his eyes, and began
To declare, through his nose, I'd ' put off the Old


And he hoped to my newly-found faith I'd hold fast ;
Which I said that I would while his garments would



Then he bade me go talk unto Biddy, my wife.
About ribbons and cotton and Protestant life ;
And to ask her, with dear Mrs. Stiggins' regards,
What stuff would convert her, and how many yards.

I hurried to Biddy she shrieked with affright,
She laughed and she cried at the comical sight ;
She called me an assal^ a rogue, and a fool,
And fell combing my head with a three-legged stool.

She pitched me right out and she bolted the door,
I knocked and I shouted, I cursed, and I swore ;
But soon I grew meek, and I made up my mind
I could fare very well leaving Biddy behind.

From town unto town have I travelled since then,
Giving good British Scripture to women and men,
And indulging at times in a bit of a freak,
But, sure, Stiggins himself knows the flesh is but weak.

Well, my clothes are supplied, and secure is my pay,
But my wages are settled at so much per day ;
And I boldly contend that my friends have no right
To heed what a Souper may do through the night.



.. Orator Puff had two tones in his voice,
The one squeaking thus, the other down so !
In each sentence he uttered he gave you your

For one was B alt. and the rest G below.

Oh ! oh ! Orator Puff !
One voice for one orator 's surely enough.

But he still talked away spite of coughs and of frowns,
So distracting all ears with his ups and his downs,
That a wag once, on hearing the orator say,
' My voice is for war,' asked him, ' Which of them,
pray ? '

Oh ! oh ! &c.

Reeling homewards one evening, top-heavy with gin,
And rehearsing his speech on the weight of the


He tripped near a sawpit and tumbled right in,

' Sinking Fund/ the last word as his noddle came

Oh ! oh ! &c.

* Help ! help ! ' he exclaimed in his he and she tones,

* Help me out ! help me out I have broken my

bones ! '
6 Help you out ? ' said a Paddy who passed, ' what a

bother !

Why, there's two of you there, can't you help one
another ? '

Oh ! oh ! &c,


u 2


ROCADES and damasks and tabbies and gauzes
Are by Robert Ballantine lately brought over,
With forty things more : now hear what the law

says :

Whoe'er will not wear them is not the king's lover.
Though a printer and Dean
Seditiously mean

Our true Irish hearts from old England to wean,
We'll buy English silks for our wives and our daughters,
In spite of his Deanship and journeyman Waters.

In England the dead in woollen are clad,

The Dean and his printer then let us cry * fie on ; '

To be clothed like a carcass would make a Teague

Since a living dog better is than a dead lion.


Our wives they grow sullen
At wearing of woollen,

And all we poor shopkeepers must our horns pull in.
Then we'll buy, &c.

Whoever our trading with England would hinder,

To inflame both the nations does plainly conspire ;
Because Irish linen will soon turn to tinder,
And wool it is greasy, and quickly takes fire.
Therefore, I assure ye,
Our noble grand jury,

When they saw the Dean's book they were in a great

They would buy, &c.

That wicked rogue Waters, who always is sinning,
And before Coram Nobis so oft has been called,
Henceforward shall print neither pamphlets nor linen,
And, if swearing can do 't, shall be swingingly
mauled ;

And as for the Dean
You know whom I mean

If the printer will 'peach him he'll scarce come oft

Then we'll buy, &c.



"E people of Ireland, both country and city,
Come listen with patience and hear out my

ditty :

At this time I'll choose to be wiser than witty :
Which nobody can deny.

The halfpence are causing the nation's undoing,
There's an end of your ploughing, and baking and


In short, you must all go to wreck and to ruin :
Which nobody can deny. ;

Both high men and low men, and thick men and tall

And rich men and poor men, and free men and thrall



Will suffer ; and this man, and that man, and all
men :

Which nobody can deny.

The soldier is ruin'd, poor man, by his pay ;
His five pence will prove but a farthing a day,
For meat, or for drink, or he must run away :
Which nobody can deny.

When he pulls out his twopence, the tapster says not,
That ten times as much he must pay for his shot ;
And thus the poor soldier must soon go to pot :
Which nobody can deny.

If he goes to the baker, the baker will huff,
And twenty pence have for a twopenny loaf,
Then c dog, rogue, and rascal,' and so kick and cuff :
Which nobody can deny.

Again, to the market whenever he goes,
The butcher and soldier must be mortal foes,
One cuts off an ear, and the other a nose :
Which nobody can deny.

The butcher is stout and he values no swagger ;
A cleaver 's a match any time for dagger,
And a blue sleeve may give such a cuff as may stagger :
Which nobody can deny.


The squire who has got him twelve thousand a year,
O Lord ! what a mountain his rents would appear !
Should he take them, he would not have house-room,
I fear :

Which nobody can deny.

Though at present he lives in a very large house,
There would then not be room in it left for a mouse ;
But the squire is too wise, he will not take a souse :
Which nobody can deny.

The farmer who comes with his rent in this cash,
For taking these counters and being so rash,
Will be kick'd out of doors both himself and his trash :
Which nobody can deny.

For in all the leases that ever we hold,
We must pay our rent in good silver and gold,
And not in brass tokens of such a base mould :
Which nobody can deny.

The wisest of lawyers all swear, they will warrant
No money but silver and gold can be current ;
And, since they will swear it, we all may be sure on \ :
Which nobody can deny.

And I think, after all, it would be very strange,
To give current money for base in exchange,


Like a fine lady swapping her moles for the mange :
Which nobody can deny.

But read the king's patent, and there you will find
That no man need take them but who has a mind,
For which we must say that his Majesty 's kind :
' Which nobody can deny.

Now God bless the Drapier who open'd our eyes !
I'm sure, by his book, that the writer is wise ;
He shows us the cheat from the end to the rise :
Which nobody can deny.

Nay, farther, he shows it a very hard case,
That this fellow Wood, of a very bad race,
Should of all the fine gentry of Ireland take place :
Which nobody can deny.

That he and his halfpence should come to weigh down
Our subjects so loyal and true to the crown ;
But I hope, after all, that they will be his own :
Which nobody can deny.

This book, I do tell you, is writ for your goods,
And a very good book 'tis against Mr. Wood's,
If you stand true together, he's left in the suds :
Which nobody can deny.


Ye shopmen, and tradesmen, and farmers, go read it,

For I think in my soul at this time that you need it ;

Or, egad, if you don't, there's an end of your credit :

Which nobody can deny.



' OW justly alarmed is each Dublin cit

That he'll soon be transformed to a clown,


By a magical move of that conjuror Pitt,
The country is coming to town, sir !

Give Pitt, and Dundas, and Jenky a glass,
Who'd ride on John Bull, and make Paddy an ass.

Through Capel Street soon, as you'll rurally range,
You'll scarce recognise it the same street ;

Choice turnips shall grow in your Royal Exchange,
Fine cabbages down along Dame Street.
Give Pitt, &c.

Wild oats in the college won't want to be tilled ;
And hemp in the Four Courts may thrive, sir !


Your markets again shall with muttons be filled
By St. Patrick, they'll graze there alive, sir !
Give Pitt, &c.

In the Parliament House, quite alive, shall there be
All the vermin the island e'er gathers ;

Full of rooks, as before, Daly's club-house you'll see,
But the pigeons won't have any feathers.
Give Pitt, &c.

Our Custom House quay full of weeds oh ! rare

sport !

But ministers' minions, kind elves, sir !
Will give us free leave all our goods to export,
When we've got none at home for ourselves, sir !
Give Pitt, &c.

Says an alderman ' Corn will grow in your shops ;

This Union must work our enslavement.'
* That's true,' says the sheriff, ' for plenty si crops l

Already I've seen on the pavement.'
Give Pitt, &c.

1 ' Crop,' or ' Croppy, was a common term for the rebels of


Ye brave, loyal yeomen, dressed gaily in red,

This minister's plan must elate us ;
And well may John Bull, when he's robbed us of bread

Call poor Ireland ' The land of Potatoes' \
Give Pitt, &c.



JjT/^AST night, as I slept all alone in my bed,
Jl^ The full moon was shining just over my head,
Such a knocking and thumping I heard at the


That I jumped out of bed in a fright on the floor ;
And what should I see, to my dread and surprise,
But the Devil himself, when I opened my eyes !
I was sure it was he, by the horns and the tail,
His feet they were cloven, his beard like a flail.

A coat like the parson's hung down from his back
(Sure the Devil has always been painted in black :
And since but for him they'd have little to do,
These parsons by right wear his livery too !)
But when I recovered my wits from the fright,
I bid him, ' in God's name,' get out of my sight ;


But there he stood staring, nor minded it more
Than his tithe-hunting friend thought about it before.

Suspecting from this 'twas the parson himselt,
Come to rob me of tithe (though detesting the pelf),
To oust the intruder I seized on his coat,
But soon was set right by a puck from the goat :
By my mother's old petticoat solely perplexed
And entangled, no wonder the creature was vexed ;
Let alone that I called him 'Your Rev'rence,' I

When I bid him 'get out for a robber and thief. '

To make such a mistake I confess was a shame,
Where the parson or Devil was neither to blame ;
But if people for kicking up rows are well known,
They are oftentimes charged when the fault 's not their

own ;

So the only excuse I will offer you now,
Is a fact that occurred not long after the row,
For the parson came down at the dawn of the day,
And all he could seize on he carried away.




) ARRY O'Gaff was a brave boy for marching,

His instep was large but his income wag

small ;

So he set up one day as a soldier of fortune
The meaning of which is no fortune at all.
In battles, bombardments, and sieges he grew up,
Till he didn't much care if towns flourish'd or blew up ;
And his maxims in life for he pick'd one or two up
Were short, sweet, and simple, for Larry O'Gaff.

1 If your purse it is slender/ says Larry, ' 'tis better
To owe a small trifle than want a great deal ;

If, .soliciting cash, a solicitor's letter,

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Online LibraryAlfred Perceval GravesSongs of Irish wit and humour → online text (page 8 of 9)