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The Limerick Rake
(Roud 3018)
John Lyons
Carroll Mackenzie Collection

John Lyons

I am a young fellow that's easy and bold,
In Castletown Conners I'm very well known.
In Newcastle West I spent many a note,
With Kitty and Judy and Mary.
My parents rebuked me for being such a rake,
And in spending my time in such frolicsome ways,
But I’ll never forget the good nature of Jane,
Agus fágaimid siúd mar atá sé.

My parents they taught me to shake and to sow,
To plough and to harrow, to reap and to mow.
But my heart it being airy to drop it so low,
I set out on a high speculation.
On paper and parchment they taught me to write,
And in Euclid and grammar they opened me eyes,
But in multiplication in truth I was bright,
Agus fágaimid siúd mar atá sé.

If I chance for to go to the market in Croom,
With a cock in me hat and me pipes in full tune,
I’ll be welcomed at once and brought up to a room,
Where Bacchus is sporting with Venus.
There's Peggy and Jane from the town of Bruree,
Biddy from Bruff and we all in a spraoí
Such a tearing of locks as there was over me,
Agus fágaimid siúd mar atá sé.

And if I chance for to go to the town of Adare,
The girls all around me will flock on the square.
Some bring me a bottle and others sweet cake,
For to treat me unknown to their parents.
There’s one from Askeaton and one from the Pike,
Another from Arda, me heart is beguiled,
Though being from the mountains her stockings are white,
And I’d love to be tying up her garter.

Now to follow the riches I ne'er was inclined,
For the greatest of misers must leave them behind.
I'll purchase a cow that will never run dry,
And I'll milk her by twisting her horn.
John Damer of Shroner had plenty of gold,
Lord Devonshire's treasure is fifty times more,
But he's lying on his back among nettles and stones,
Agus fágaimid siúd mar atá sé.

This cow she will milk without clover or grass,
She's pampered on corn, good barley and hops.
She's fat and she’s stout, and she's free in her paps,
She'll milk without spancil or halter.
And the man that will drink it will cock his caubeen,
And if anyone coughs there'll be wigs on the green,
And the feeble old hag will get supple and free,
Agus fágaimid siúd mar atá sé.

And now for the future I mean to be wise,
And I'll send for the women who acted so kind,
And I'll marry them all in the morn by and by,
If the clergy agrees to the bargain.
And when I'm on me back and me soul is at rest,
These women will crowd for to cry at me wake,
And their sons and their daughters will offer a prayer,
To the Lord for the soul of their father.
Agus fágaimid siúd mar atá sé.


“Colm O Lochlainn, who included this song in ‘Irish Street Ballads’, learnt the tune and odd lines of the text from his mother, a native of Limerick. His grandfather, John Carr (1819-1890) also had a few lines in English, and the rest was collated from ballad sheets, from the ‘Irish Folk Song Journal’, the Petrie Collection and P.W. Joyce’s ‘Irish Music and Song’. It doesn’t seem to have appeared in any other collection. Seamus Ennis seems to have been the first singer from whom the song was collected in 1949.

Irish Street Ballads, Colm O Lochlainn, Dublin, 1946.
Jim Carroll

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