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Paddy and the Ass
(Roud 3078)
Mikey Kelleher
Quilty and Depford, London

Recorded in London, 1977
Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Mikey Kelleher

Pat Molloy an Irish boy, he left the County Clare.
He said he’d go to London to see the wonder there.
He often heard that London was a very pretty place,
‘By damn!’ says Pat, ‘I’ll go and see if that be the case.’
With my fol diddle ido, rigs tura lee.

He left goodbye to all his friends and kissed his cailín dear.
He left so sad, he did by dad, and never shed a tear.
One day old Pat was walking, he talking to himself,
And he met a ragged Cockney with a donkey selling delph.
With my fol adiddle izo, rigs fol a dee.

This damned old ragged Cockney didn’t let poor Paddy pass.
He said: ‘Speak to your brother,’ as he pointed to the ass.
‘By damndest,’ says old Paddy, ‘I thought I had no brother here.’
And turning round he whispered something into the ass’s ear.
With my fol adiddle ido, rigs tura lee.

When Pat was speaking to the ass, by dad, what did he do?
He stuck a pen in through his ear, he did by dad, it’s true!
The old ass ran mad, upset the cart, broke all the earthenware,
And this damned old ragged Cockney ran crazy clear and clean.
With my fal de diddle ido, rigs fol de dee.

He sent for the policeman to get old Pat in charge,
‘This bloody Irish vagabond, he shouldn’t be at large.’
‘Go along, you English spailpín,*’ says old Paddy with a smile,
‘You took me for to be an ass because I came from Erin’s Isle.’
With my fal de diddle ido... [breaks off]

*A labourer


“The ‘Biter bit’, the apparent fool getting the better of his tormenter, is an ongoing theme throughout traditional songs and stories, particularly so when the ‘fool’ is a stranger or foreigner away from home. An identical text to this was taken down in Fermanagh and published in 1982 but, apart from that, it is has seldom been found in print. Tom Munnelly suggests it may have originated in America.”

Passing the Time; Folklore and History in an Ulster Community, Henry Glassie, O’Brien Press 1982.

Jim Carroll

See also
Paddy and the Ass sung by Tom Lenihan

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