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The Kerry Recruit
(Laws J8; Roud 520
Tom Lenihan
Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
Recorded 1984

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Tom Lenihan

One day as I was cutting turf in Tralee,
With my spade in my fist and my brógs in my feet.
I said to myself: ‘What a pity to see
Such a clever young fellow cutting turf in Tralee.’

I polished my shoes and shook hands to my spade,
And went to the fair like a dashing young blade.
When up comes the sergeant and asks me to list.
‘Wisha, grá,’ says I, ‘put the bob in my fist.’

The first thing they gave me it was a red coat,
And a wide strap of leather to tie round my throat.
They gave me a quare thing, I asked what was that?
And they told me it was a cockade for my hat.

The next thing they gave me they called it a gun
With powder and shot and the place for my thumb.
And first she spit fire and then she spit smoke;
Lord she gave my, a great lip and my shoulder she broke.

The next place they send me was down to the sea,
In board of a warship bound for the Crimea.
Three sticks in the middle all covered with sheets
And she walked through the water without any feet.

We fought at the Alma, likewise Inkerman,
But the Russians they whaled us at the Redan.
In scaling a wall there, myself lost my eye,
And a big Russian bullet ran off with my thigh.

It was there I lay bleeding on the cold ground
Head, legs and arms was scattered all round.
Said I to meself: ‘If my mamma was here,
She’d bury me dacent and rise a loud cry.’

I was taken to a doctor and he soon staunched my blood,
And gave me an elegant leg made of wood.
He gave me a medal and ten pence a day,
And I’m contented with Sheila, I’ll live in fair play.


Conversation after the song between Tom Lenihan, Pat Mackenzie and Jim Carroll:
Jim: Lovely Tom.
Tom: That’s the way with The Kerry Recruit.
Jim: Where did you have that from, Tom?
Tom: Oh, Lord Jim, I have that with a long, long time – years, down along from my old father and mother or someone is where that song came. It used be sung a lot first, you know, but now, it don’t be. Now I don’t sing it at all any place.

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