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Come to the Hiring
(Roud 12936)
Pat MacNamara
Kilshanny, near Ennistymon
Recorded in Kilshanny, July 1976

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Pat McNamara

Oh, you young men and maidens, I pray you draw near for a while,
For a few simple verses will cause you to smile,
For the time of the hiring has come when you see,
Cheer up boys and girls, though, we’ll have a good spree.

So, come to the hiring we’ll make no delay,
Several boys stand for wages like heroes so gay.
And you blooming young girls when you come to the town,
Don’t leave those old farmers your wages cut down.

Oh, the farmer and wife sure in bed they can stay,
And rise to their breakfast of eggs and strong tea.
But at four in the morning to work you must go,
But reap, mow and harrow and follow the plough.

You must attend to your horses I vow it’s no lie,
Do all sorts of labour in cold, wet and dry.
When your day’s work is over after supper at night,
You must clean out the cow house and see all things right.

Ah, the poor servant girls without any doubt.
’Twould be better for them they were slaves in the south.
They must scrub, brush and polish the truth I declare,
When their day’s work is over they must polish the shoes.

Now, you farmers of Ireland, take a warning by me,
The servants of Ireland they’re all going away,
They’re crossing to England as you understand,
You must double your wages or give up your land.

Here’s a health to the farmer wherever he be,
That’s kind to his servants in every degree.
I won’t curse that farmer, the truth I declare,
For I know the poor man, sure, will give his own share.

“Songs about hiring fairs predominantly come from the North of Ireland and North East Scotland; this one appears to be restricted to Clare singers, there are the only the two Clare versions of it listed by Roud. There is a very full description by Malachy Horan of what he called a Hirage fair in Tallaght, County Dublin, during the second half of the nineteenth century. He said:

‘You know the old forge facing up the Tallaght street. It was there that up to fifty years ago (1880) they held the Hirage Fair. ... It would be held a few days before 15 August. The men would come in from as far as Baltinglass. Some would be hired on the road before they reached the forge. The leaving of them would gather themselves about the forge. Each man would stick his pipe in the band of his hat, as a badge that he was free for service. When he was hired he would put it in his pocket. . . . Every man of them would be wearing his whetstone in a pouch on his left, and often enough a high crowned rush hat on his head. They were a great breed of men and civil spoken. Some could reap an acre a day. I could myself one time, aye. The street would be full, what with farmers looking for help and men anxious for work. And when all was over there would be laughing and talking and a bit of a dance or the wrestling. The ballad singer would be doing a great trade, nor were the fiddlers idle.’”

Reference:
Malachy Horan Remembers, Dr. George Little, M. H. Gill, Dublin 1943.
Jim Carroll

See also
Come to the Hiring sung by Jamesie McCarthy


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