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Nell Flaherty’s Drake
(Roud 3005)
Martin Reidy
Tullaghaboy, Connolly
Recorded in singer's home, June 1978

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Martin Reidy

My name it is Nell, quite candid I tell,
I live near Cootehill, I will never deny.
I had a fine drake the truth for to speak,
That my grandmother left me and she goin' to die.
He was wholesome and sound, he weighed twenty clear pound,
And the universe round I will roam for his sake.
But some wicked savage, to grease his white cabbage
Has murdered Nell Flaherty’s beautiful drake.

May his pig never grunt, may his cat never hunt,
May a ghost ever haunt him in the dead of the night.
May his ass never bray, may his hen never lay,
May his goat fly away like an old paper kite.
May the flies and the fleas, the wretch ever tease,
And the piercing of breezes make him shiver and shake.
May a bunch of sticks rise buds fast and thick
On the monster that murdered Nell Flaherty's drake.

May every old fairy, from Cork to Dun Laoghaire,
Dip him snug and airy by river and lake.
May weevils still yaw him, and jackdaws still claw him:
The monster that murdered Nell Flaherty's drake.
That he may get the gout, may his grinders fall out,
May he reel, howl and shout with a horrid toothache.
May his temples wear horns, or his toes many corns,
The monster that murdered Nell Flaherty's drake.

But there is one good news, that I have to infuse.
Is that great Peter Hughes and blind Mickey McCreagh.
And the big-nosed Ned Manson and buck-tooth Jack Hansom
For each have a grandson of my lovely drake.
My treasure had dozens of nephews and cousins
And one I must find or my heart it will break.
For to keep my mind easy for fear I'd run crazy
To end the whole song of my beautiful drake.


“A hugely popular street ballad which was described by Colm O Lochlainn as ‘a splendid song once heard all over the country’. An intriguing note in Sam Henry’s ‘Songs of the People’ suggests that the song is a symbolic reference to the death of Robert Emmett, which could date it to the beginning of the 19th century.”

Sam Henry’s Songs of the People, Gale Huntigton (ed.), Univ. of Georgia Press, 1990.
Jim Carroll

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