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Irish Pub Songs

There is little difference between an Irish pub and its English counterpart. There seems to be more live music in an Irish pub, some of which are known in the Irish language as Ceilí Houses, and a customer is more likely to entertain the assembly with a song. The atmosphere in such places is called craic, (pronounced crack) and is the Irish language word for fun.

Oh have you been to Avondale and lingered in her lovely vale
Where tall trees whisper low the tale of Avondale's proud eagle
Where pride and ancient glory fade
Such was the land where he was laid
Like Christ was thirty pieces paid
For Avondale's proud eagle

Oh have you been to Avondale and lingered in her lovely vale
Where tall trees whisper low the tale of Avondale's proud eagle
Long years that green and lovely glade
Have lost for now our grandest Gael
And Cursed the land that has betrayed
Our Avondale's proud eagle

'The Big Strong Man'
Have you heard about the big strong man?
He lived in a caravan.
Have you heard about the Jeffrey Johnson fight?
Oh, Lord what a hell of a fight.
You can take all of the heavyweights you've got.
We've got a lad that can beat the whole lot.
He used to ring bells in the belfry,
Now he's gonna fight Jack Dempsey.

That was my brother Sylvest' (What's he got?)
A row of forty medals on his chest (big chest!)
He killed fifty bad men in the west; he knows no rest.
Think of a man, hells' fire, don't push, just shove,
Plenty of room for you and me.
He's got an arm like a leg (a ladies' leg!)
And a punch that would sink a battleship (big ship!)
It takes all of the Army and the Navy to put the wind up Sylvest'.

Now, he thought he'd take a trip to Italy.
He thought that he'd go by sea.
He dove off the harbor in New York,
And swam like a great big shark.
He saw the Lusitania in distress.
He put the Lusitania on his chest.
He drank all of the water in the sea,
And he walked all the way to Italy.

Chorus ...

He thought he take a trip to old Japan.
They turned out a big brass band.
You can take all of the instruments you've got,
We got a lad that can play the whole lot.
And the old church bells will ring (Hells bells!)
The old church choir will sing (Hells fire!)
They all turned out to say farewell to my big brother Sylvest'.

Chorus ...

'The Black Velvet Band'
Well, I was out strolling one evening
Not intending to stay very long
When I met with a frolicsome damsel
As She came a trippin along

Her eyes they shone like the diamond
You'd think she was queen of the land
And her hair hung over her shoulder
Tied up in a black velvet band

Well a watch, she pulled out her pocket
And slipped it right into my hand
On the very first day that I met her,
Bad luck to the black velvet band


Before judge and jury next morning
Both of us did appear
A gentleman claimed his jewelry
And the case against us was clear.


Now seven long years transportation
Right down to Van Dieman's Land
Far away from my friends and companions
To follow the black velvet band


Come all you warriors and renowned nobles
Give ear unto my warlike theme
And I will sing you how Father Murphy
Lately aroused from his sleepy dream
Neither Julius Caesar nor Alexander
Nor brave King Arthur could equal him
Armies formidable he did conquer
Though with two gun men he did begin

Camolin cavalry he did unhorse them
Their first lieutenant he cut them down
With shattered ranks and with broken columns
They soon returned to Camolin town
On the hill of Oulart he displayed his valour
Where a hundred Cork men lay on the plain
At Enniscorthy his sword he wielded
And I hope to see him once more again

When Enniscorthy became subject to him
Twas then to Wexford we marched our men
And on the Three Rock took up our quarters
Waiting for daylight the town to win
The loyal townsmen gave their assistance
We'll die or conquer they all did say
The yeomen cavalry made no resistance
For on the pavement their corpses lay

With drums a-beating the town did echo
And acclamations came from door to door
On the Windmill Hill we pitched our tents
And we drank like heroes but paid no score
On Carraig Rua for some time we waited
And next to Gorey we did repair
At Tubberneering we thought no harm
The bloody army was waiting there

The issue of it was a close engagement
While on the soldiers we played warlike pranks
Thro' sheepwalks, hedgerows and shady thickets
There were mangled bodies and broken ranks
The shuddering cavalry I can't forget them
We raised the brushes on their helmets straight
They turned about and they bid for Dublin
As if they ran for a ten-pound plate

Some crossed Donnybrook and more through Blackrock
And some up Shankill without wound or flaw
And if Barry Lawless be not a liar
There's more went groaning up Luggelaw
To the Windmill Hill of Enniscorthy
The British Fencibles they fled like deers
But our ranks were tattered and sorely scattered
By the loss of Kyan and the Shelmaleers

The streets of England were left quite naked
Of all its army both foot and horse
The highlands of Scotland were left unguarded
Likewise the Hessians the seas they crossed
But if the Frenchmen had reinforced us
And landed transports in Bagenbun
Father John Murphy would be their seconder
And sixteen thousand with him would come

Success attend the sweet County Wexford
Throw off its yoke and to battle run
Let them not think we gave up our arms
For every man has a pike and gun

'Danny Boy'
Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes... the pipes are calling,
From glen to glen and down the mountain side.
The summer's gone and all the leaves are falling,
Tis you, Tis you must go and I must bide.

But come ye back, when summer's in the meadow,
and all the valley's hushed and white with snow.
And I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow,
Oh, Danny Boy, Oh, Danny Boy, I love you so!

But when ye come, and all the flowers are dying
If I be dead, as dead I well may be.
Then come and find the place where I am lying,
And kneel and say an Ave there for me.

And I shall hear, though soft your tread above me,
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be.
And you shall bend, and tell me that you love me,
And I shall rest in peace until you come to me.

'Dirty Old Town'
I met my love by the gas works wall
Dreamed a dream by the old canal
kissed a girl by the factory wall

Dirty old town dirty old town

Clouds a drifting across the moon
Cats a prowling on their beat
Spring's a girl in the street at night

Dirty old town dirty old town

Heard a siren from the docks
Saw a train set the night on fire
Smelled the spring in the smoky wind

Dirty old town dirty old town

I'm going to make a good sharp axe
Shining steel tempered in the fire
Will chop you down like an old dead tree

Dirty old town dirty old town
Dirty old town dirty old town

'Finnegan's Wake'
Tim Finnegan lived in Walkin' Street
A gentleman, Irish, mighty odd;
He had a brogue both rich and sweet
And to rise in the world he carried a hod.
Now Tim had a sort of the tipplin' way
With a love of the whiskey he was born
And to help him on with his work each day
He'd a "drop of the cray-thur" every morn

Whack fol the darn O, dance to your partner
Whirl the floor, your trotters shake;
Wasn't it the truth I told you
Lots of fun at Finnegan's wake!

One mornin' Tim was feelin' full
His head was heavy which made him shake;
He fell from the ladder and broke his skull
And they carried him home his corpse to wake.
They rolled him up in a nice clean sheet
And laid him out upon the bed,
A gallon of whiskey at his feet
And a barrel of porter at his head.

Chorus ...

His friends assembled at the wake
And Mrs. Finnegan called for lunch,
First they brought in tay and cake Then pipes, tobacco and brandy punch.
Biddy O'Brien began to bawl
"Such a nice clean corpse, did you ever see?
"O Tim, mavourneen, why did you die?"
Arragh, hold your gob said Paddy McGhee!

Chorus ...

Then Maggie O'Connor took up the job
"O Biddy," says she, "You're wrong, I'm sure"
Biddy she gave her a belt in the gob
And left her sprawlin' on the floor.
And then the war did soon engage
'Twas woman to woman and man to man,
Shillelagh law was all the rage
And a row and a ruction soon began.

Chorus ...

Then Mickey Maloney ducked his head
When a noggin of whiskey flew at him,
It missed, and falling on the bed
The liquor scattered over Tim!
The corpse revives! See how he rises!
Tim Finnegan rising from the bed,
Says,"Whirl your whiskey around like blazes
Thanum an Dhul! Do you think I'm dead?"

'The Irish Rover'
In the year of our Lord,
Eighteen hundred and six
We set sail from the fair Cobh of Cork
We were bound far away
With a cargo of bricks
For the fine city hall of New York.

In a very fine craft,
She was rigged fore and aft
And oh, how the wild winds drove her
She had twenty-three masts
And withstood several blasts
and we called her the Irish Rover.

There was Barney McGee
From the banks of the Lee
There was Hogan from County Tyrone
And a chap called McGurk
Who was scared stiff of work
And a chap from West Meade called Mellone.

There was Slugger O'Toole
Who was drunk as a rule
And fighting Bill Casey from Dover
There was Dooley from Claire
Who was strong as a bear
And was skipper of the Irish Rover

We had one million bales
Of old billy goat's tails
We had two million buckets of stones.
We had three million sides
Of old blind horses hides,
We had four million packets of bones.

We had five million hogs,
We had six million dogs
And seven million barrels of porter
We had eight million bags
of the best Sligo rages
In the hold of the Irish Rover.

We had sailed seven years
When the measles broke out
And the ship lost her way in a fog.
And the whole of the crew
was reduced to just two
Twas myself and the captain's old dog.

Then the ship struck a rock
With a terrible shock
And then she heeled right over,
turned nine times around,
and the poor dog was drowned
I'm the last of the Irish Rover

'A Pair of Brown Eyes'
One summer evening drunk to hell
I sat there nearly lifeless.
And old man in the corner sang
where the water lilies grow.
And on the jukebox Johnny sang
about a thing called love.
And it's how you are kid and
what's your name.
and how would you bloody know.

In blood and death 'neath a screaming sky
I lay down on the ground.
And the arms and legs of other men
were scattered all around.
Some cursed some prayed,
some prayed then cursed.
The prayed then bled some more.
And the only thing that I could see
was a pair of brown eyes that was
looking at me.

But when we got back
labeled parts one to three
there was no pair of brown eyes
waiting for me.
And a rovin' a rovin' a rovin' I'll go
for a pair of brown eyes.
I looked at him he looked at me
all I could do was hate him.
While Ray and Philomena sang
of my elusive dreams.
I saw the streams the rolling hills
where his brown eyes were waiting.
And I thought about
a pair of brown eyes
that waited once for me.

So drunk to hell I left the place
sometimes crawling sometimes walking.
A hungry sound
came across the breeze
so I gave the walls a talking.
And I heard the sounds of long ago
from the old canal.
And the birds were whistling
in the trees
Where the wind was gently laughing.

'Rocky Road to Dublin'
In the merry month of June, from me home I started
Left the girls of Tuam nearly broken hearted
Saluted father dear, kissed me darlin' mother
Drank a pint of beer me grief and tears to smother
Then off to reap the corn, leave where I was born,
Cut a stout blackthorn to banish ghost and goblin
A brand new pair of brogues, rattlin o'er the bogs
And frightenin' all the dogs on the rocky road to Dublin

One, two, three, four, five
Hunt the hare and turn her
Down the rocky road, another way to Dublin
Whack fol-laddie-ah!

In Mullingar that night I rested limbs so weary
Started by daylight next mornin' blithe and early
Took a drop of the pure to keep me heart from sinkin'
That's the Paddy's cure whenever he's on for drinkin'
See the ladies smile, laughin' all the while,
At me curious style, would set your heart a bubblin'
Asked me was I hired, wages I required,
Till I was nearly tired on the rocky road to Dublin

Chorus ...

In Dublin next arrived, I thought it such a pity
To be soon deprived a view of that fine city
So then I took a stroll all among the quality
My bundle it was stole all in a neat locality
Something crossed me mind, when I looked behind
No bundle could I find upon me stick a-wobblin'
Enquirin' for the rogue, they said me Connacht brogue
Wasn't much in vogue on the rocky road to Dublin

Chorus ...

From there I got away, me spirits never failing
Landed on the quay just as the ship was sailing
The captain at me roared, said no room had he
When I jumped aboard, a cabin found for Paddy:
Down among the pigs, played some funny rigs,
Danced some hearty jigs the water round me bubblin'
When off Hollyhead, I wished meself was dead,
Or better far instead on the rocky road to Dublin

Chorus ...

Well, the boys of Liverpool, when we safely landed,
Called meself a fool, I could no longer stand it,
Blood began to boil, temper I was losin'
Poor old Erin's Isle they began abusin'
"Hurrah, me Soul!" says I, my shillelagh I let fly
Some Galway boys were nigh and saw I was a hobbelin'
With a loud "Hurray" joined in the affray
We quickly cleared the way on the rocky road to Dublin!

Chorus ...

'Spanish Lady'
As I went out through Dublin City
At the hour of twelve o'clock at night
Who should I see but the Spanish lady
Washing her feet by candlelight
First she washed them
Then she dried them
Over a fire of amber coals

In all my life I ne'er did see
A maid so sweet about the soul

Whack for the tooraloora laddy
Whack for the tooraloora lay
Whack for the tooraloora laddy
Whack for the tooraloora lay

As I went our thru Dublin City
At the hour of half past eight
Who do I see but the Spanish lady
Combing her hair so trim and neat
First she brushed it
Then she combed it
On her lap was a silver comb

In all my life I ne'er did see
A maid so sweet since I did roam

Chorus ...

As I walked out through Dublin City
As the sun began to set
Who should I see but the Spanish lady
Catch a moth in her golden net
First she spied me then she fled me
Hitchin' her petticoat over her knee

In all my life ne'er did I see
A maid so fair as the Spanish Lady

Chorus ...

'The Town I Loved So Well'
In my memory I will always see
the town that I have loved so well
Where our school played ball by the gas yard 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 gas yard 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

'Whiskey in The Jar'
As I was goin' over Gilgarra Mountain
I spied Colonel Farrell, and his money he was countin'.
First I drew my pistols and then I drew my rapier,
Sayin' "Stand and deliver, for I am your bold deceiver."

Musha ringum duram da,
Whack fol the daddy-o,
Whack fol the daddy-o,
There's whiskey in the jar

He counted out his money and it made a pretty penny;
I put it in my pocket to take home to darlin' Jenny.
She sighed and swore she loved me and never would deceive me,
But the devil take the women, for they always lie so easy


I went into me chamber all for to take a slumber,
To dream of gold and girls, and of course it was no wonder:
Me Jenny took me charges and she filled them up with water,
Called on Colonel Farrell to get ready for the slaughter.


Next mornin' early, before I rose for travel
A-came a band of footmen and likewise Colonel Farrell.
I goes to draw my pistol, for she'd stole away my rapier,
But a prisoner I was taken, I couldn't shoot the water.


They put me into jail with a judge all a-writin':
Robbin' Colonel Farrell on Gilgarra Mountain.
But they didn't take me fists and I knocked the jailer down
And bid a farewell to this tight-fisted town.


I'd like to find me brother, the one who's in the army;
I don't know where he's stationed, be it Cork or in Killarney.
Together we'd go roamin' o'er the mountains of Kilkenny,
And I swear he'd treat me fairer than my darlin' sportin' Jenny.


There's some takes delight in the carriages and rollin',
Some takes delight in the hurley or the bollin'
But I takes delight in the juice of the barley,
Courtin' pretty maids in the mornin', o so early.


'Wild Rover'
I've been a wild rover for many a year
And I spent all my money on whiskey and beer
Now I'm returning with gold in great store
Sure I never will play the wild rover no more

And it's no, nay, never,
No nay never no more,
Will I play the wild rover
No never no more

I went to an ale-house I used to frequent
And I told the landlady my money was spent.
I asked her for credit, she answered me "nay,
such custom as yours I can have any day."


I took from my pocket ten sovereigns bright
and the landlady's eyes opened wide with delight
She said "I have whiskey and wines of the best
and the words that I spoke they were only in jest."

Chorus ...

I'll go back to me parents, and confess what I've done
and I'll ask them to pardon their prodigal son
And when they've caressed me as of'times before
Sure I never will play the wild rover no more.