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Come to the Hiring
(Roud 12936)
Jamesie McCarthy
Mount Scott, Mullagh
Recorded in Conway’s Bar, Mullagh, July 1976

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Jamesie McCarthy

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

See come to the hiring and make no delay,
Several boys stand for wages like heroes so gay.
Ye blooming young girls when ye come to town,
Don’t leave that old farmer yeer wages pulled down.

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

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

How I would like for my time to be up,
Hard work and bad feeding are not bad enough.
My mistress’s tongue it would make a horse reel,
And her cold ugly forehead would make a man sneeze.

The poor servant girls without any doubt.
’Twould be better for them they were slaves in the south.
They must scour milk and churn the truth I tell you,
When their day’s work is over, they must polish the shoes.

Yerra wish it’s not like the day of the good old times,
When the master and mistress together would dine,
Eggs, butter and bacon to cover the table,
To strengthen your body and shove out your navel.

Farmers take warning as I hear people say,
The youth of Ireland they’re all going away,
They’re going to England as you may understand,
You must double their wages or give up your land.

Here’s a health to all farmers wherever they’ll be,
That’s kind to their servants in every degree.
We won’t curse the bad one, the truth I declare,
For I note that the devil has got 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.’”

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

See also
Come to the Hiring sung by Pat MacNamara

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