Irish Folk Songbook:

Dirty Old Town
Hand Me Down Me Bible
Kelly The Boy From Killane
McAlpine's Fusiliers
On Raglan Road
Song For Ireland
Streams Of Whiskey
The Auld Triangle
The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
The Black Velvet Band
The Fields Of Athenry
The Foggy Dew
The Irish Rover
The Leaving Of Liverpool
The Parting Glass
The Rising Of The Moon
The Sun Is Burning
The Town I Loved So Well
The Unquiet Grave
The Wild Rover
Whiskey In The Jar
Whiskey You Are The Divil
Will You Go, Lassie Go?

Irish Folk Songbook

collected by Marco Hazlehurst


DIRTY OLD TOWN (1946 Ewan Mc Coll) I met my love by the gas works wall Dreamed a dream by the old canal I kissed my girl by the factory wall Dirty old town, Dirty old town I heard a siren from the docks Saw a train set the night on fire Smelled the spring on the smoky wind Dirty old town, Dirty old town Clouds are drifting across the moon Cats are prowling on their beat Spring's a girl from the streets at night Dirty old town, Dirty old town I'm going to make me a good sharp axe Shining steel tempered in the fire I'll chop you down like an old dead tree Dirty old town, Dirty old town I met my love by the gas works wall Dreamed a dream by the old canal I kissed my girl by the factory wall Dirty old town, Dirty old town HAND ME DOWN ME BIBLE (Phil Coulter) I like my liquor and my livin' hard May the Lord save my soul My salvation was the turn of a card My heart's as black as coal But everybody's got the right to go wrong Everybody's got to sing my song, Everybody's got the right to go wrong Sing my song,sing my song Oh-o glory-o now Im the Lord's disciple Oh-o glory-o now hand me down my bible I dont give a damm for any man As all the world can see The time has come to make a stand To shine your light on me Come on people let your life begin Come on people let the sun shine in Come on people let your life begin Let it in, let it in KELLY THE BOY FROM KILLANE (1904 Patrick Joseph McCall) What’s the news, what’s the news, oh my bold Shelmalier With your long-barrelled gun of the sea? Say what wind from the South blows a messenger here With his hymn of a dawn for the free Goodly news, goodly news, do I bring, youth of Forth Goodly news shall you hear, Bargy man For the boys march at dawn from the South to the North Led by Kelly, the boy from Killanne Tell me who is that giant with the gold curling hair He who rides at the head of your band Seven feet is his height with some inches to spare And he looks like a king in command Oh me boys, that’s the pride of the bold Shelmaliers He’s our bravest of heros, a man So throw your beavers aloft and give three ringing cheers For John Kelly, the boy from Killanne Enniscorthy’s in flames and old Wexford is won And tomorrow the Barrow we wil cross On the hill o’er the town we have planted a gun Which will batter a gateway to Ross All you Forth men and Bargy men will march o’er the heath With brave Harvey to lead in the van But the formost of all in that grim gap of death Will be Kelly, the boy from Killanne But the gold sun of freedom grew darkened at Ross And it set by the Slaney’s red waves And poor Wexford, stripped naked, hung high on a cross With her heart pierced by traitors and knaves Glory-o, glory-o, to her brave sons who died In the cause of long downtrodden man Glory-o to Mount Leinster’s own darling and pride Dauntless Kelly, the boy from Killanne MCALPINE'S FUSILIERS (1960 Dominic Behan) As down the glen came McAlpine's men with their shovels slung behind them It was in the pub they drank the sub and up in the spike you'll find them They sweated blood and they washed down mud with pints and quarts of beer And now we're on the road again with McAlpine's Fusiliers I stripped to the skin with the Darky Flynn way down upon the Isle of Grain With the Horseface Toole I knew the rule, no money if you stop for rain When McAlpine's god was a well filled hod with your shoulders cut to bits and seared And woe to he who looks for tea with McAlpine's Fusiliers I remember the day that the Bear O'Shea fell into a concrete stairs What the Horseface said, when he saw him dead, well it wasn't what the rich call prayers I'm a navvy short was the one retort that reached unto my ears When the going is rough, well you must be tough with McAlpine's Fusiliers I've worked till the sweat near had me bet with Russian, Czech and Pole On shuddering jams up in the hydro dams or underneath the Thames in a hole I grafted hard and I've got me cards and many a gangers fist across me ears If you pride your life, don't join, by Christ, with McAlpine's Fusiliers ON RAGLAN ROAD (1946 Patrick Kavanagh) On Raglan Road on an autumn day I saw her first and knew That her dark hair would weave a snare That I might one day rue I saw the danger and I passed Along the enchanted way And I said: 'Let grief, be a fallen leaf At the dawning of the day' On Grafton Street in November We tripped lightly along the ledge Of a deep ravine where can be seen Song text taken from stlyrics.com The worth of passion's pledge The Queen of Hearts still making tarts And I not making hay Oh I loved too much and by such By such is happiness thrown away I gave her gifts of the mind I gave her the secret signs That's known to the artists who have known The true gods of sound and stone And word and tint did not stint I gave her poems to say With her own name there and her own dark hair Like clouds over fields of May On a quiet street where old ghosts meet I see her walking now Away from me so hurriedly My reason must allow That had I loved not as I should A creature made of clay When the angel woos the clay He'd lose his wings at the dawn of day SONG FOR IRELAND (Phil Colclough) Walking all the day Near tall towers where falcons build their nests Silver-winged they fly They know the call of freedom in their breasts Saw Black Head against the sky Where twisted rocks they run to the sea Living on your western shore Saw summer sunsets, asked for more I stood by your Atlantic Sea And sang a song for Ireland Drinking all the day In old pubs where fiddlers love to play Saw one touch the bow He played a reel which seemed so grand and gay Stood on Dingle Beach and cast In wild foam we found Atlantic bass Living on your western shore Saw summer sunsets, asked for more I stood by your Atlantic Sea And sang a song for Ireland Talking all the day With true friends who try to make you stay Telling jokes and news Singing songs to pass the time away Watched the Galway salmon run Like silver dancing, darting in the sun Living on your western shore Saw summer sunsets, asked for more I stood by your Atlantic Sea And sang a song for Ireland Dreaming in the night I saw a land where no one had to fight Waking in your dawn I saw you crying in the morning light Sleeping where the falcons fly They twist and turn all in your air-blue sky Living on your western shore Saw summer sunsets, asked for more I stood by your Atlantic Sea And sang a song for Ireland. STREAMS OF WHISKEY (1984 Shane MacGowan) Last night as I slept I dreamt I met with Behan I shook him by the hand and we passed the time of day When questioned on his views On the crux of life's philosophies He had but these few clear and simple words to say I am going, I am going Any which way the wind may be blowing I am going, I am going Where streams of whiskey are flowing I have cursed, bled and sworn Jumped bail and landed up in jail Life has often tried to stretch me But the rope always went slack And now that I've a pile I'll go down to the Chelsea I'll walk in on my feet But I'll leave there on my back Because I'm going, I am going … Oh the words that he spoke Seemed the wisest of philosophies There was nothing ever gained By a wet thing called a tear When the world is too dark And I need the light inside of me I'll walk into a bar And drink fifteen pints of beer THE AULD TRIANGLE (1954 Brendan Behan) A hungry feeling came o'er me stealing And the mice were squealing in my prison cell, And the old triangle Went jingle jangle, Along the banks of the Royal Canal. On a fine spring evening, The lag lay dreaming The seagulls wheeling high above the wall, And the old triangle Went jingle jangle, Along the banks of the Royal Canal. The screw was peeping The lag was sleeping While he lay weeping for the girl, Sal... And the old triangle Went jingle jangle, Along the banks of the Royal Canal. The wind was rising And the day declining As I lay pining in my prison cell And that old triangle Went jingle jangle, Along the banks of the Royal Canal. The day was dying and the wind was sighing, As I lay crying in my prison cell, And the old triangle Went jingle jangle, Along the banks of the Royal Canal. In the female prison There are seventy women I wish it was with them that I did dwell, Then that old triangle Could jingle jangle Along the banks of the Royal Canal. THE BAND PLAYED WALTZING MATILDA (1971 Eric Bogle) When I was a young man, I carried my pack, and I lived the free life of a rover. From the Murray's green basin to the dusty outback, I waltzed my matilda all over. Then in nineteen fifteen my country said, "Son, It's time to stop rambling - there's work to be done." So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun, and they sent me away to the war. And the band played Waltzing Matilda, as our ship pulled away from the Quay. And amid all the tears, flagwaving and cheers, we sailed off for Gallipoli. Well I remember that terrible day when our blood stained the sand and the water. And how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay we were butchered like lambs at the slaughter. Johnny Turk, he was ready - oh, he primed himself well. He rained us with bullets, and he showered us with shells. And in five minutes flat, we were all blown to hell - nearly blew us back home to Australia. And the band played Waltzing Matilda, as we stopped to bury our slain. And we buried ours and the Turks buried theirs, and it started all over again. Those who were living, just tried to survive in that mad world of blood, death and fire. And for seven long weeks, I kept myself alive, while around me the corpses piled higher. Then a big Turkish shell, knocked me arse over head, and when I awoke in my hospital bed, And saw what it had done, I wished I was dead - never knew there were worse things than dying. For no more I'll go Waltzing Matilda, all around the green bush far and near; For to hump tent and pegs, a man needs both legs - no more Waltzing Matilda for me. They collected the wounded, the crippled, the maimed, and they shipped us back home to Australia. The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane: those proud wounded heroes of Suvla. And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay I looked at the place where me legs used to be, And thanked Christ there was no one there waiting for me - to grieve and to mourn and to pity. And the band played Waltzing Matilda, as they carried us down the gangway. But nobody cheered; they just stood there and stared - then they turned all their faces away. And now every April, I sit on my porch, and I watch the parades pass before me. I see my old comrades - how proudly they march, renewing their dreams of past glories. I see the old men, all tired, stiff and sore - the weary old heroes of a forgotten war. And the young people ask, "What are they marching for?" And I ask myself the same question. And the band plays Waltzing Matilda, and the old men still answer the call. But year after year, their numbers grow fewer - someday no one will march there at all. Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda, who'll come a'waltzing matilda with me? And their ghosts may be heard as they march along the billabong - Who'll come a'waltzin' Matilda with me? THE BLACK VELVET BAND (Traditional) In a neat little town they call Belfast apprentice to trade I was bound And many an hour of sweet happiness have I spent in that neat little town A sad misfortune came over me which caused me to stray from the land Far away from my friends and relations betrayed by the black velvet band Her eyes they shone like diamonds I thought her the queen of the land And her hair it hung over her shoulder Tied up with a black velvet band I took a stroll down Broadway meaning not long for to stay When whom should I meet but this pretty fair maid come a-traipsing along the highway She was both fair and handsome, her neck it was just like a swan And her hair it hung over her shoulder tied up with a black velvet band I took a stroll with this pretty fair maid, and a gentleman passing us by I knew she meant the doing of him by the look in her roguish black eye A gold watch she took from his pocket and placed it right into my hand And the very first thing that I said was, Bad cess to the black velvet band Before the judge and the jury next morning I had to appear The judge he says to me, Young man, your case it is proven clear We'll give you seven years penal servitude to be spent far away from the land Far away from your friends and relations, betrayed by the black velvet band So come all ye jolly young fellows, a warning take by me When you're out on the town me lads, beware of the pretty colleens They'll feed you with strong drink me lads, till you are unable to stand And the very first thing that you know is, you've landed in Van Diemen's Land THE FIELDS OF ATHENRY (1970 Pete St.John) By a lonely prison wall, I heard a young girl call: "Michael, they have taken you away, For you stole Trevelyn's corn, So the young might see the morn. Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay." Low lie the fields of Athenry Where once we watched the small free birds fly Our love was on the wing, We had dreams and songs to sing It's so lonely round the fields of Athenry. By a lonely prison wall, I heard a young man call "Nothing matters, Mary, when you're free Against the famine and the crown, I rebelled, they cut me down. Now you must raise our child with dignity." By a lonely harbor wall, She watched the last star fall As the prison ship sailed out against the sky For she lived to hope and pray, For her love in Botany Bay It's so lonely round the fields of Athenry. THE FOGGY DEW (1919 Canon Charles O’Neill) As down the glen one Easter morn to a city fair rode I There Armed lines of marching men in squadrons passed me by No fife did hum nor battle drum did sound it's dread tatoo But the Angelus bell o'er the Liffey swell rang out through the foggy dew Right proudly high over Dublin Town they hung out the flag of war 'Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky than at Sulva or Sud El Bar And from the plains of Royal Meath strong men came hurrying through While Britannia's Huns, with their long range guns sailed in through the foggy dew 'Twas Britannia bade our Wild Geese go that small nations might be free But their lonely graves are by Sulva's waves or the shore of the Great North Sea Oh, had they died by Pearse's side or fought with Cathal Brugha Their names we will keep where the fenians sleep 'neath the shroud of the foggy dew But the bravest fell, and the requiem bell rang mournfully and clear For those who died that Eastertide in the springing of the year And the world did gaze, in deep amaze, at those fearless men, but few Who bore the fight that freedom's light might shine through the foggy dew Ah, back through the glen I rode again and my heart with grief was sore For I parted then with valiant men whom I never shall see more But to and fro in my dreams I go and I'd kneel and pray for you, For slavery fled, O glorious dead, When you fell in the foggy dew. THE IRISH ROVER (Traditional) On the Fourth of July, 1806 We set sail from the sweet cohb of Cork We were sailing away with a cargo of bricks For the Grand City Hall in New York 'Twas a wonderful craft She was rigged fore and aft And oh, how the wild wind drove her She stood several blasts She had twenty seven masts And they called her The Irish Rover We had one million bags of the best Sligo rags We had two million barrels of stone We had three million sides of old blind horses hides We had four million barrels of bones We had five million hogs And six million dogs Seven million barrels of porter We had eight million bales of old nanny-goats' tails In the hold of the Irish Rover There was awl Mickey Coote Who played hard on his flute And the ladies lined up for a set He was tootlin' with skill For each sparkling quadrille Though the dancers were fluther'd and bet With his smart witty talk He was cock of the walk As he rolled the dames under and over They all knew at a glance When he took up his stance That he sailed in The Irish Rover There was Barney McGee From the banks of the Lee There was Hogan from County Tyrone There was Johnny McGurk Who was scared stiff of work And a man from Westmeath called Malone There was Slugger O'Toole Who was drunk as a rule And Fighting Bill Tracy from Dover And your man, Mick McCann From the banks of the Bann Was the skipper of the Irish Rover For a sailor it's always a bother in life It's so lonesome by night and day That he longs for the shore And a charming young whore Who will melt all his troubles away Oh, the noise and the rout Swillin' poitin and stout For him soon the torment's over Of the love of a maid He is never afraid An old salt from the Irish Rover We had sailed seven years When the measles broke out And the ship lost its way in the fog And that whale of a crew Was reduced down to two Just myself and the Captain's old dog Then the ship struck a rock Oh Lord! what a shock The bulkhead was turned right over Turned nine times around And the poor old dog was drowned I'm the last of The Irish Rover THE LEAVING OF LIVERPOOL (Traditional) Farewell to you, my own true love; I am going far away. I am bound for California, But I know that I'll return some day. So fare thee well, my own true love, And when I return, united we will be. It's not the leaving of Liverpool that grieves me, But, my darling, when I think of thee. I have shipped on a Yankee sailing ship; "Davy Crockett" is her name. And Burgess is the captain of her, And they say she is a floating hell. Oh I've sailed with Burgess once before And I think I know him well If a man's a sailor he will get along If he's not then he's sure to tell Oh the sun is on the harbour, love, And I wish that I could remain, For I know that it will be a long, long time, Before I see you again THE PARTING GLASS (1600~ traditional) Of all the money that e'er I spent I've spent it in good company And all the harm that ever I've done Alas it was to none but me And all I've done for want of wit To memory now I can't recall So fill to me the parting glass Good night and joy be with you all Oh, all the comrades that e'er I had They're sorry for my going away And all the sweethearts that e'er I had They'd wish me one more day to stay But since it falls unto my lot That I should rise and you should not I'll gently rise and I softly call Good night and joy be with you all Oh, If I had money enough to spend And leisure time to sit awhile There is a fair maid in this town That sorely has my heart beguiled Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips I own she has my heart enthralled Then fill to me the parting glass Good night and joy be with you all THE RISING OF THE MOON (1861 John Keegan Casey) At the rising of the moon, at the rising of the moon With your pike upon your shoulder at the rising of the moon And come tell me Sean O'Farrell tell me why you hurry so Husha buachaill hush and listen and his cheeks were all a glow I bare orders from the captain get you ready quick and soon For the pikes must be together at the rising of the moon At the rising of the moon, at the rising of the moon For the pikes must be together at the rising of the moon And come tell me Sean O'Farrell where the gath'rin is to be At the old spot by the river quite well known to you and me One more word for signal token whistle out the marchin' tune With your pike upon your shoulder at the rising of the moon At the rising of the moon, at the rising of the moon With your pike upon your shoulder at the rising of the moon Out from many a mud wall cabin eyes were watching through the night Many a manly heart was beating for the blessed warning light Murmurs rang along the valleys to the banshees lonely croon And a thousand pikes were flashing by the rising of the moon by the rising of the moon, by the rising of the moon And a thousand pikes were flashing by the rising of the moon All along that singing river that black mass of men was seen High above their shining weapons flew their own beloved green Death to every foe and traitor! Whistle out the marching tune And hurrah, me boys, for freedom, 'tis the rising of the moon 'Tis the rising of the moon, 'tis the rising of the moon And hurrah, me boys, for freedom, 'tis the rising of the moon THE SUN IS BURNING (1963 Ian Campbell) The sun is burning in the sky, Strands of clouds go slowly driftin' by In the park, the dreamy bees are droning in the flowers among the trees And the sun is in the sky. Now the sun is in the west Little kids lay down to take their rest And the couples in the park are holding hands and waiting for the dark And the sun is in the west. Now the sun is sinking low Children playin' know it's time to go High above a spot appears a little blossom blooms and then draws near And the sun is sinking low. Now the sun has come to earth Shrouded in a mushroom cloud of death. Death comes in a blinding flash of hellish heat and leaves a smear of ash And the sun has come to earth. Now the sun has disappeared All is darkness anger pain and fear. Twisted sightless wrecks of men go crawling on their knees and cry in pain And the sun has disappeared THE TOWN I LOVED SO WELL (1972 Phil Coulter) In my memory I will always see the town that I have loved so well Where our school played ball by the gasyard wall and we laughed through the smoke and the smell Going home in the rain, running up the dark lane past the jail and down behind the fountain Those were happy days in so many, many ways in the town I loved so well In the early morning the shirt factory horn called women from Creggan, the Moor and the Bog While the men on the dole played a mother's role, fed the children and then trained the dogs And when times got tough there was just about enough But they saw it through without complaining For deep inside was a burning pride in the town I loved so well There was music there in the Derry air like a language that we all could understand I remember the day when I earned my first pay And I played in a small pick-up band There I spent my youth and to tell you the truth I was sad to leave it all behind me For I learned about life and I'd found a wife in the town I loved so well But when I returned how my eyes have burned to see how a town could be brought to its knees By the armoured cars and the bombed out bars and the gas that hangs on to every tree Now the army's installed by that old gasyard wall and the damned barbed wire gets higher and higher With their tanks and their guns, oh my God, what have they done to the town I loved so well Now the music's gone but they carry on For their spirit's been bruised, never broken They will not forget but their hearts are set on tomorrow and peace once again For what's done is done and what's won is won and what's lost is lost and gone forever I can only pray for a bright, brand new day in the town I loved so well THE UNQUIET GRAVE (medieval traditional) The wind does blow today, my love, A few small drops of rain; Never had I had but one true-love, In cold clay she is lain. I'll do as much for my true-love, As any young man may; I'll sit and mourn all on her grave A twelvemonth and a day. The twelvemonth and a day being gone, A voice spoke from the deep 'Who is it sits all on my grave, And will not let me sleep? 'Tis I, tis I, thine own true-love Who sits upon your grave; For I crave one kiss from your sweet lips, And that is all I seek. You crave one kiss from my clay-cold lips; But my breath is earthly strong; Had you one kiss from my clay-cold lips, Your time would not be long. My time be low, my time be short Tomorrow or today; May God in heaven have all my soal But I’ll kiss your lips of clay. "See down in yonder garden green, Love, where we used to walk, The sweetest flower that ever grew Is withered to a stalk. The stalk is withered dry, my love, So will our hearts decay; So make yourself content, my love, Till death calls you away. THE WILD ROVER (traditional) Verse I've been a wild rover for many the year And I spent all my money on whiskey and beer. But now I'm returning with gold in great store And I never will play the wild rover no more And it's no nay never, no never no more Will I play the wild rover, no never, no more I went to an alehouse I used to frequent And I told the landlady my money was spent I asked her for credit, she answered me 'nay Such a custom like yours I could have any day' I took from my pocket ten sovereigns bright And the landladiy's eyes opened wide with delight She said 'I have whiskey and wines of the best, And the words that I spoke sure were only a jest'. I'll go home to my parent, confess what I've done And I'll ask them to pardon their prodigal son. And if they caress me as oft times before, Sure I never will play the wild rover no more. WHISKEY IN THE JAR (traditional) As I was a goin' over the far famed Kerry mountains I met with captain Farrell and his money he was counting I first produced my pistol and I then produced my rapier Saying "Stand and deliver" for he were a bold deceiver Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da Wack fall the daddy-o, wack fall the daddy-o There's whiskey in the jar I counted out his money and it made a pretty penny I put it in me pocket and I took it home to Jenny She sighed and she swore that she never would deceive me But the devil take the women for they never can be easy I went up to my chamber, all for to take a slumber I dreamt of gold and jewels and for sure 't was no wonder But Jenny blew me charges and she filled them up with water Then sent for captain Farrell to be ready for the slaughter 't was early in the morning, just before I rose to travel Up comes a band of footmen and likewise captain Farrell I first produced me pistol for she stole away me rapier I couldn't shoot the water, so a prisoner I was taken Now there's some take delight in the carriages a rolling and others take delight in the hurling and the bowling but I take delight in the juice of the barley and courting pretty fair maids in the morning bright and early If anyone can aid me 't is my brother in the army If I can find his station in Cork or in Killarney And if he'll go with me, we'll go rovin' through Killkenny And I'm sure he'll treat me better than my own a-sporting Jenny WHISKEY YOU'RE THE DEVIL (traditional) Oh, now, brave boys, we're on the march and off to Portugal and Spain The drums are beating, banners flying, the devil ahome will come tonight Love, fare thee well, with me tithery eye the doodelum the da Me tithery eye the doodelum the da, Me rikes fall tour a laddie oh There's whiskey in the jar. Hey! Whiskey, you're the devil, you're leadin' me astray Over hills and mountains and to Americae You're sweeter, stronger, decenter, you're spunkier than tae O whiskey, you're my darlin' drunk or sober Said the mother: "Do not wrong me, don't take my daughter from me For if you do I will torment you, and after death a ghost will haunt you Love, fare thee well, with me tithery eye the doodelum the da Me tithery eye the doodelum the da, Me rikes fall tour a laddie oh There's whiskey in the jar. Hey! The French are fighting boldly, men dying hot and coldly Gives ev'ry man his flask of powder, his farlock on his shoulder Love, fare thee well, with me tithery eye the doodelum the da Me tithery eye the doodelum the da, Me rikes fall tour a laddie oh There's whiskey in the jar. Hey! WILL YOU GO, LASSIE, GO? (1957 William McPeake) Oh the summer time is comin' and the leaves are sweetly bloomin' And the wild mountain thyme grows around the bloomin' heather Will you go, lassie, go? And we'll all go together to pull wild mountain thyme All around the bloomin' heather will you go, lassie, go? I will build my love a house by yon pure crystal fountain And on it I will place all the flowers of the mountain Will you go, lassie, go? I will build my love a tower by yon pure flowing river And the thing her heart desires Is a thing I'll someday give her Will you go, lassie, go? I will range thru the wild and the deep glen sae drearie And return with the spoils to the bower of my dearie Will you go, lassie, go? If my true love she were gone then I'd surely find another Where the wild mountain thyme grows around the bloomin' heather Will you go, lassie, go?