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Paddy and the Ass
(Roud 3078)
Tom Lenihan
Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
Recorded in singer's home, July 1976

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Tom Lenihan

Pat Molloy was an Irish boy, he left the County Clare.
He said he’d go to London to see the sights were there.
He often heard that London was a very pretty place,
‘And be damn!’ says Pat, ‘I’ll go and see if that be the case.’
Ralley fal de diddle ido, right fol de dee.

When Paddy went to London he was taken by surprise.
The sights of that great city fairly dazzled Paddy’s eyes.
One day as he was going down the street meditating to himself,
He met with a ragged Cockney and a donkey selling delph.
Ralley fal de diddle ido, right fol de dee.

This damned old ragged Cockney would not let poor Paddy pass.
He said: ‘Speak to your brother,’ and he pointed to the ass.
‘I thought, me man,’ says Paddy, ‘that I had no brother here,’
And turning round he whispered something in the ass’s ear.
Rallley fal de diddle ido, right fol de dee.

As Pat was speaking to the ass, now boys, what did he do?
He slipped a pebble in his ear, he did bedamn, ‘tis true!
The ass ran mad, upset the cart, broke all the earthenware,
And this damned old ragged Cockney he ran crazy clear and clean.
Ralley fal de diddle ido, right fol de dee.

He called upon the peelers to take poor Pat in charge,
Saying: ‘Seize this Irish vagabone, he should not be at large.’
‘Begone, you English spailpín*,’ says Paddy with a smile,
‘You took me for an ass because I came from Erin’s Isle.’
Ralley fal de diddle ido, right fol de dee.

‘That’s nonsense,’ cried the magistrate, ‘you know the ass went mad.’
‘I do, indeed,’ said Paddy, ‘and I’m sorry too, bedad.’
‘Be careful,’ cried the magistrate, ‘I want no nonsense here.
But come and tell me every word you whispered in his ear.’
Ralley fal de diddle ido, right fol de dee.

‘Oh, that I’ll do,’ says Paddy, ‘your request I’ll not refuse.
You always heard that donkeys were very fond of news?
I thought I’d say a word or two, the donkey’s heart to cheer,
And now I’ll tell you every word I whispered in his ear.’
Ralley fal de diddle ido, right fol de dee.

‘They say now, in Ireland, we have our wrongs redressed.
Our noble-hearted Irishmen no longer are oppressed.
We’ve got rid of all the landlords, Ireland to ourselves we have;
And when the donkey heard the news, by Heavens, he went mad!’
Ralley fal de diddle ido, right fol de dee.

The magistrate from laughing, he had to creep his head,
When he looked at poor old Paddy and thought of what he said.
And turning ’round to Paddy saying: ‘A clever boy you are,
And for your clever answers I’ll dismiss you from the bar.’
Ralley fal de diddle ido, right fol de dee.

*A labourer


“The ‘Biter bit’, the apparent fool getting the better of his tormenter, is an ongoing theme throughout traditional songs and stories, particularly so when the ‘fool’ is a stranger or foreigner away from home. An identical text to Tom’s was taken down in Fermanagh and published in 1982 but, apart from that, it is has seldom been found in print; Tom learned it from his father’s singing. Tom Munnelly suggests it may have originated in America.”

Reference:
Passing the Time; Folklore and History in an Ulster Community, Henry Glassie, O’Brien Press 1982.

Jim Carroll

See also
Paddy and the Ass sung by Mikey Kelleher


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