Juice of the Barley


In the sweet County Limerick one cold winter’s night
The turf fires were burning when I first saw the light
A drunken oul midwife went tipsy with joy
As she danced round the floor with her slip of a boy

Singing bainne na mbo is an gamhna
And the juice of the barley for me

When I was a gossoon of eight years or so
With me turf and me primer, to school I did go
To a dusty old schoolhouse without any door
Where lay the schoolmaster blind drunk on the floor

At the learning I wasn’t a genius I’m thinkin’
But I soon beat the master entirely at drinkin’
Not a wake or a wedding for five miles around
But meself in the corner was sure to be found

One Sunday, the priest read me out from the altar
Saying ‘You’ll end your days with your neck in a halter
You’ll dance a fine jig between heaven and hell’
The words they frighten, the truth for to tell

The very next morning as the dawn it did break
I went to the vestry, the pledge for to take
And there in that room sat the priests in a bunch
Round a big roaring fire drinking tumblers of punch

Form that day to this, I have wandered alone
A jack of all trades and a master of none
With the sky for me roof and the earth for me floor
I’ll dance out me days drinking whiskey galore

Limerick 1

Songs of Limerick


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