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Juice of the Barley
Vincie Boyle
Mount Scott, Mullagh
Recorded December 2003

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Vincie Boyle

In the sweet county Limerick one cold winter's night,
When the turf fire was burning I first saw the light.
And a drunken auld midwife went tipsy with joy
As she danced round the floor with a slip of a boy.

Singing, ‘Bainne na bó is na gamhna,
And the juice of the barley for me.’

When I was a gossoon of eight years or so,
With me turf, and me primer, to school I did go.
To a dirty auld schoolhouse without any door,
Where lay the schoolmaster blind drunk on the floor.

Singing, ‘Bainne na bó is na gamhna,
And the juice of the barley for me.’

At learning I wasn't such a genius I'm thinking,
But I soon beat the master entirely at drinking.
Not a wake nor a wedding for five miles around,
Sure myself in the corner was sure to be found.

Singing, ‘Bainne na bó is na gamhna,
And the juice of the barley for me.’

Last Sunday the priest tread me out from the altar,
Saying, ‘You'll end up your days with your neck in a halter
And you'll dance a fine jig between heaven and hell.’
And the words they did frighten me the truth for to tell.

Singing, ‘Bainne na bó is na gamhna,
And the juice of the barley for me.’

The very next morning as dawn it did break,
I went down to the vestry, the pledge for to take.
And there in the corner, sat the priests in a bunch
Round a big roaring fire drinking tumblers of punch.

Singing, ‘Bainne na mbó is na gamhna,
And the juice of the barley for me.’

Now from that day to this I have wandered alone,
I'm jack of all trades and I’m master of none.
With the sky for me roof and the earth for me floor,
And I'll sing out my days drinking whiskey galore!

Singing, ‘Bainne na bó is na gamhna,
And the juice of the barley for me.’

“‘The Juice of the Barley’ is a traditional Irish celebration of drink which has been said to have originated around the mid-19th century, though in fact forms of the song date back to 1690, and the tunes to 1651. It appeared as ‘The Juice of Barley’ in Playford's ‘English Dancing Master’ both under that name and also as ‘Cold and Raw’. Claude M. Simpson in ‘The British Broadside Ballad and its Music’, goes into detail in the section 'Stingo, or Oil of Barley, or Cold and Raw', listing various songs that used forms of the tune. Chappell printed the words of 'A Cup of old Stingo' set to the 'Stingo' tune in ‘Popular Music of the Olden Times’. ‘Stingo’ was a common term for strong ale.”
Jim Carroll

Reference:
The English Dancing Master, John Playford, 1650.
The British Broadside Ballad and its Music, Claud M Simpson, Rutgers Univ. Press, 1966.
Popular Music of the Olden Times, William Chappell, 1879.


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