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Suzanne and Paudeen
Pat MacNamara
Kilshanny, near Ennistymon
Recorded in Kilshanny, July 1976

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Pat McNamara

There’s a priest in the parish, you all know him well,
He went over the hillside, to marry Suzanne,
There was auld men and auld women, lined up side by side,
With pitchforks and shovels to welcome the bride.
And you’re welcome, all of you, the whole bloomin’ all of you
And you’re heartily welcome, Suzanne and Paudeen.

Now, on the night of the wedding, sure they both has to reel,
The sash that she wore was a band of a wheel.
She’d a broken auld toe and a crooked auld heel,
And sure such an auld couple you never had seen.
And you’re welcome, all of you, the whole bloomin’ all of you
And you’re heartily welcome, Suzanne and Paudeen.

Now this lady had jewellery that money couldn’t buy,
And that was a wart that grew over her eye.
She had a crooked auld nose and a crooked auld eye,
And sure if you’d seen the auld couple you surely would die.
And you’re welcome, all of you, the whole bloomin’ all of you
And you’re heartily welcome, Suzanne and Paudeen.

Now the night of the wedding they both went to bed,
And their shoes and their stockings some pillows they made,
With Paudeen’s auld britches across her two shins,
When she woke in the morning, she thought she had twins.
And you’re welcome, all of you, the whole bloomin’ all of you
And you’re heartily welcome, Suzanne and Paudeen.


“I can find no trace of Pat’s song in this form, though the story of a young man taking an ugly bride to bed has echoes of the Arthurian legend, traditional story and ballad of 'The Marriage of Sir Gawain' (Roud 3966, Child 31), the plot of which runs:

A man courts a beautiful young woman; she refuses him. In a fit of anger he vows he will proposes marriage to the first woman he meets. His lover disguises herself as an ugly old woman and accosts him on the road. Bound by his oath, he proposes, she accepts. The couple are married and after the wedding feast, retire to bed. After numerous fumbling attempts to consummate the marriage, he finally lights a candle, to find he is lying next to the beautiful woman he proposed to.

Pat’s song is probably no more than a rural frolic and it would be highly speculative on our part to link it to the ballad with anything other than coincidences in plot. There are only a few examples from traditional singers to compare it to, all from the Eastern United States; another is a single printed text dating back to the 18th century. On the other hand, Pat, as well as being a singer who sang a number of old ballads, was also a very fine storyteller with a repertoire of traditional tales, some centuries old. Quilty singer Mikey Kelleher gave us a yarn entitled 'The Merchant and the Fiddlers Wife' which contains two recited verses which coincide almost exactly with a song that was never recorded in the oral tradition and only appears in a song collection published in the late 1700s – stranger things have happened at sea! For interest, this is the ballad as it was found, in cante-fable form (sung with spoken lines also) in Vermont in 1933.

The Half-Hitch (Child 31)

A noble lord in Plymouth did dwell.
He had a fine daughter, a beautiful gal.
A young man of fortune, and riches supplied,
He courted this fair maid to make her his bride,
To make her his bride,
He courted this fair maid to make her his bride.

He courted her long and he gained her love.
At length this fair maiden intend him to prove.
From the time that she owned him, she fairly denied,
She told him right off, she'd not be his bride,
She'd not be his bride,
She told him right off she'd not be his bride.

Then he said, "Straight home I will steer,"
And many an oath under her he did swear.
He swore he would wed the first woman he see
If she was as mean as a beggar could be,
As a beggar could be,
If she was as mean as a beggar could be.

She ordered her servants this man to delay.
Her rings and her jewels she soon laid away.
She dressed herself in the worst rags she could find.
She looked like the divil before and behind. Etc.

She clapped her hands on the chimney back,
She crocked her face all over so black,
Then down to the road she flew like a witch
With her petticoat hi-sted upon her half-hitch. Etc.

Soon this young man came riding along.
She stumbled before him, she scarcely could stand
With her old shoes on her feet all tread of askew.
He soon overtook her and said, "Who be you?" Etc.

spoken: "I'm a woman, I s'pose."

This answer grieved him much to the heart.
He wished from his very life he might part.
Then he wished that he had been buried
And then he did ask her and if she was married. Etc.

spoken: "No, I ain't."

This answer suited him much like the rest.
It lay very heavy and hard on his breast.
He found by his oath he must make her his bride.
Then he did ask her behind him to ride. Etc.

spoken: "Your horse will throw me, I know he will."

"O no, O no, my horse he will not,"
So on behind him a-straddle she got.
His heart it did fail him. He dare not go home
For his parents would say, "I'm surely undone." Etc.

So to a neighbor with whom he was great
The truth of the story he dared to relate.
He said, "Here with my neighbor you may tarry
And in a few days with you I will marry." Etc.

spoken: "You won't. I know you won't."

He vowed that he would and straight home he did go.
He acquainted his father and mother also
Of what had befallen him. Now he had sworn.
His parents said to him, "For that don't you mourn. Etc.

"Don't break your vows but bring home your girl
And we'll fix her up and she'll do very well."
The day was appointed. They invited the guests
And then they intended the bride for to dress. Etc.

spoken : "Be married in my old clothes, I s'pose!" Etc.

Married they were and sat down to eat.
With her hands she clawed out the cabbage and meat.
The pudding it burned her fingers so bad
She licked 'em, she wiped 'em along on her rags. Etc.

Hotter than ever, she at it again.
Soon they did laugh til their sides were in pain:
Soon they did say, "My jewel, my bride,
Come sit yourself down by your true lover's side." Etc.

spoken: "Sit in the corner, s'pose, where I used ter."

Some were glad and very much pleased.
Others were sorry and very much grieved.
They ask them to bed the truth to decide
And then they invited both bridegroom and bride. Etc.

spoken: "Give me a light and I'll go alone."

They gave her a light—what could she want more—
And showed her the way up to the chamber door.

spoken: "Husband when you hear my old shoe go, 'klonk' then you may come."

Up in the chamber she went klonking about.
His parents said to him, "What think she's about?"
"O mother, O mother, say not one word.
Not one bit of comfort to me this world can afford."

At length they heard her old shoe go klonk.
They gave him a light and bade him go along.
"I choose to go in the dark," he said,
"For I very well know the way to my bed."

He jumped into bed, his back to his bride.
She rolled and she tumbled from side unto side.
She rolled and she tumbled. The bed it did squeak.
He said unto her, "Why can't you lie still?" Etc.

spoken: "I want a light to unpin my clothes."

He ordered a light her clothes to unpin.
Behold she was dressed in the finest of things.
When he turned over her face to behold,
It was fairer to him than silver or gold. Etc.

Up they got and the frolic they had,
For many a heart was merry and glad.
They looked like two flowers just springing from bloom,
With many fair lassies who wished them much joy.

As sung by Mr. James Shepard of Baltimore, Vermont, July 8, 1933.”
Jim Carroll


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