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The Baby in the Kitbag
(Roud 2993)

Mikey Kelleher
Quilty and Depford, London

Recorded in London, 1977
Carroll Mackenzie Collection



Mikey Kelleher

It happened one day down in Henry Street,
The whole band of tinkers, I happened to meet.
There was some from Roscommon and more from Kildare,
Some down from Miltown, the devil knows where.

Rall di rigs toure laddy, rigs tour a lie aye

When the tinkers they met they began for to chat,
They had English and French and the devil knows what,
Like the birds in the bushes, they all did agree
To go into the boozer and kick up a spree.

Rall di rigs toure laddy, rigs tour a lie aye

Those tinkers came in and sat round at the hall.
For the best of good Guinness those tinkers did call.
They were drinking alright ‘till the money was gone
And the kicking the flop he thought of the sop.

Rall di rigs toure laddy, rigs tour a lie aye

He said, ‘Mr O’Brien, I know you’re a friend,
I’m told you’re the habit in money to lend,
If you lend me the price of one gallon of beer,
I’ll give you my budget,* my nipper and shear.

Rall di rigs toure laddy, rigs tour a lie aye

The bargain was made without no delay,
? got his money and his ticket to walk out.
He walked out when the job it was done
And all the town, sure they laughed at the fun.

Rall di rigs toure laddy, rigs tour a lie aye

T’auld kitbag was taken and laid by the wall,
In a half an hour after a child had to bawl.
The pawnbroker rose and he said to his wife,
‘There’s a child in the budget, by God, he’s alive!’

Rall di rigs toure laddy, rigs tour a lie aye

T’auld kitbag was taken without no delay;
And they found a child rolled in a small sop of hay.
The pawnbroker rose and he couldn’t forget
He sent down the child before John ? the Mayor.

Rall di rigs toure laddy, rigs tour a lie aye

When the Mayor see the child, sure he nearly dropped dead,
To think that the kitbag could be brought to bed.
‘Get me his father without no delay,
And I’ll send him down to Limerick Jail.’

Rall di rigs toure laddy, rigs tour a lie aye

So now to conclude and to finish my song,
I hope you’ll all say my verse it is wrong.
The place it was searched, the old daughter was found,
And the pawnbroker settled and gave him a pound.

Rall di rigs toure....

* A budget is a bag or knapsack used for carrying tools.


"This good-natured piece, though very popular in Ireland, has not put in a public appearance very often, the only other recorded version available being that of Mary Ann Carolan of County Louth. There appears to be no published texts. The motif of a child being passed off to an either unwitting or unwilling recipient is a popular one in the tradition and can be found in England and Scotland, for instance, in ‘The Basket of Eggs’ and ‘The Butcher and the Chambermaid’. Kerry Traveller Mikeen McCarthy has a tale he calls ‘Mikeen and the County Home’ in which the recipient, himself in his version, is left holding the baby after pretending to be a woman's husband in order to get a night's lodgings at a County Home, or Workhouse, not realising she is about to give birth, and having to stay there for the length of the woman's confinement."

Reference:
‘And that's My Story, Tales and Yarns of Britain and Ireland’, cassette and booklet, VWML005.
Other recordings: Mary Ann Carolan, ‘Songs From the Irish Tradition’, Topic 12TS362.
Jim Carroll

See also
The Child in the Budget sung by Martin Long

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