Did I Tell Ya That the Irish Know How to Party? Hell Yeah!

Across America, and around the world, the Irish know how to celebrate with the wearing of the green, our parades, our green beer and our whiskey on St. Patrick's Day. In Chicago they color the river green as they do in Ft. Wayne (yesterday), and other cities. I looked for an Irish Historical Society in Ft. Wayne and you know what I found? Irish pubs, lots of them. That's apparently the only historical society most of us need or want around here. ;-)

In what follows are just a few of our favorite traditional drinking songs. I think most people will like them (don't miss the last two). See if you don't like them, I dare ya. Let's drink to that!

In the ballad of Finnegan's Wake, the hod-carrier Tim Finnegan, born "with a love for the liquor," falls from a ladder, breaks his skull, and is thought to be dead. [A hod-carrier is a laborer employed in carrying supplies to bricklayers, stonemasons, cement finishers, or plasterers on the job.] The mourners at his wake (an Irish tradition) become rowdy, and spill whiskey over Finnegan's corpse, causing him to come back to life and join in the celebrations. Whiskey causes both Finnegan's fall and his resurrection. [Whiskey is derived from the Irish language meaning "water of life"].

Sing along:

Tim Finnegan lived in Watling street
He was an Irish gentleman, mighty odd
He had a brogue both rich and sweet
And to rise in the world he carried a hod
Now Tim made a sort of a tipplin' way
With a love for the whiskey poor Tim was born
And to help him on his way each day,
He'd a drop of the craythur every morn'

Whack fol' the dah will ya dance to your partner
Round the floor your trotters shake
Isn't it the truth I told ya?
Lots of fun at Finnegan's wake

One morning Tim was rather full
His head felt heavy which made him shake
Then he fell from the ladder and he broke his skull
And they carried him home, his corpse to wake
They wrapped him up in nice clean sheets;
They laid him out upon the bed
With a barrel of porter at his feet
And a bottle of whiskey at his head.

(Repeat Chorus)

Then friends assembled at the wake
And Mrs. Finnegan called for lunch
First she brought them tea and cake
Then pipes, tobacco, and whiskey punch
Then Finnegan's friends began to cry
"such a nice clean corpse did you ever see?"
" Tim, auvreen! Why did you die?"
"Will you shut yer mouth?" says Molly McGee'

(Repeat Chorus)

Then, Mary O'Conner took up the job
"Oh Biddy," says she, "you're wrong, I'm sure."
Well Biddy fetched her a belt in the gob
And left her sprawling on the floor
Then the war did then engage
'Twas woman to woman and man to man
Shillelagh law was all the rage
And the row and the ruction soon began.

Well Tim Maloney ducked his head
The bottle of whiskey flew at him
It missed, and landing on the bed.
The whiskey scattered over Tim
Now Tim revives, see how he rises!
Timothy Finnegan risin' from the dead!
Sayin' "Wear your whiskey around like blazes,"
"Thunderum chance! do ye think I'm dead?"

(Repeat Chorus)

"Whiskey in the Jar" is a famous Irish traditional song, set in the southern mountains of Ireland. The song is about a Rapparee (Highwayman), who is betrayed by his wife or lover, and is one of the most widely performed traditional Irish songs.

Sing along:


musha ring dumma do damma da
whack for the daddy 'ol
whack for the daddy 'ol
there's whiskey in the jar

As I was going over the far Kerry mountains
I met a captain Farrell and his money he was counting.
I first produced my pistol, and then produced my rapier.
Said stand and deliver, for you are a bold deceiver.

Repeat Chorus.

I counted out my money, and it made a pretty penny.
I put it in my pocket and I took it home to Jenny.
She sighed and she swore, she never would betray me,
but the devil take them women, for they never should be easy.

Repeat Chorus twice.

Now if anyone can aid me, it's my brother in the army,
A little settled station, be it Cork or in Killarney.
Then I'll go and find him, we'll go drink him in Kilkenney,
And I engage I'll sing I swear, tell me darling Jenny.

Repeat Chorus.

Some men take delight in the drinking and the roving,
But others take delight in the gambling and the smoking.
But I take delight in the juice of the barley,
And courting pretty women when the sun is rising early.

Repeat Chorus.

The idiom "paddy wagon" (mentioned in the song above) is of American origin. The precise origin of it is uncertain and disputed, though its use dates back to at least the beginning of the 1900s. There are at least two theories as how the phrase originated.

The most prevalent theory is based on the term "Paddy" (a common Irish shortening of Patrick, as in the Irish language Patrick is Padraig), which was used (often as derogatory slang) to refer to Irish people. Irishmen made up a large percentage of the officers of early police forces in many American cities. Thus, this theory suggests that the concentration of Irish in the police forces led to the term "paddy wagon" being used to describe the vehicles driven by police.

An alternative theory is similarly based on the term "Paddy" but states that the term arose due to the high crime level among Irish immigrants. LINK


This concludes my series of eight posts about my Irish heritage. To see all of them click on the tag below. Cheers, and I mean cheers!