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Jack from Killaloe
(Roud 9731)
Martin Howley
Fanore, north west Clare
Recorded in singer's home, summer 1975

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Martin Howley

The Irish men and women come and listen to my song,
I’ll sing for you a verse or two I won’t detain you long.
I came home from sea the other day, and a female I did meet,
And she asked me up along with her to a dance in Barrack Street.

Says I my pretty fair maid I cannot dance too well,
For I belong to Killaloe town my parents there do dwell.
I have been those long years out in sea sure I have saved up thirty pounds,
And my friends will be expecting me tonight in Killaloe town.

And as you cannot dance too well sure you might have a treat,
Sure you might have a glass of beer or something nice to eat.
At four o’clock in the evening I will meet you at the train,
And you’ll be sure to call when e’er you come to town again.

When I found her so civil sure it’s then I hired a car.
The children all at once I began to shout and bawl.
The children on the other side in thousands they do say,
“Oh faith Johnny my boy you’ll want a car before you get away.”

We went to the dancehouse, the drinking did begin,
Each madden? after his glass the dancing did commence.
My love and I around the room we tipped a merry tune,
While two pair more were doing the novel jovial around the room.

When the dancing was all over sure to bed I did prepare,
Soon after that I fell asleep the truth I do declare.
My watch and chain and thirty pounds all from me had fled,
And left poor Jack the Sailor stripped naked in the bed.

When I woke to the clear day light what no one I could a-spy,
But a woman’s panty that was hanging out to dry.
I wrung my hands and tore my hair saying, “Alas what shall I do?”
May the Lord be with you Killaloe town I never more shall see you.

The daylight was all over and the dark night coming on.
I put on t’ould vest and panty and wasn’t I a nice young man.
And when I went on board the ship the sailors to me do say,
“Oh faith Johnny my boy since you left here you have been in the family way.”

The sailors says to John, “My boy, I thought it was home you were bound.
I thought you might get a better suit than that for thirty pounds.”
I might have got a better suit if I had got the chance,
But I met a damsel in the street that taxed me to a dance.

I danced my own obstruction the truth I’ll tell to thee,
But I swear a note I’ll never more go to a dance in Barrack Street.
Come all ye loyal sailors a warning take by me,
Beware and choose your company when you go on the spree.
Beware of those comely lassies or you will rue the day,
With a woman’s jacket and panty they’ll fit you out for sea.

“The motif of a drunken man being tricked out of his money and trousers is a well known one in oral tradition, but this particular variant on the theme, where a sailor is the victim, appears to have been only found once (sailors are well-known victims of such tricks in the oral tradition); this was recorded from Elizabeth Cronin's son, Michael, in London in 1954. Quite often it is a tailor who is the victim. Most of the versions are entitled ‘The Tailor’s Britches’ and the Scots have a wealthy merchant’s son who is tricked by ‘The Beggar Wench’. Martin got this song from a friend called Martin Linnane from Kilfenora."
Jim Carroll

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