Peeler and the Goat


A Bansha Peeler went one night
On duty and patrolling O
And met a goat upon the road
And took her for a stroller O
With bayonet fixed he sallied forth
And caught her by the wizzen O
And then he swore a mighty oath
‘I’ll send you off to prison O’

‘Oh, mercy, sir’, the goat replied
‘Pray let me tell my story O
I am no Rogue, no Ribbon man
No Croppy, Whig, or Tory O
I’m guilty not of any crime
Of petty or high treason O
I’m sadly wanted at this time
This is the milking season O’

‘It is in vain for to complain
Or give your tongue such bridle O
You’re absent from your dwelling place
Disorderly and idle O
Your hoary locks will not prevail
Nor your sublime oration O
You’ll be transported by Peel’s Act
Upon my information O’

‘No penal law did I transgress
By deeds or combination O
I have no certain place to rest
No home or habitation O
But Bansha is my dwelling-place
Where I was bred and born O
Descended from an honest race
That’s all the trade I’ve learned O’

‘I will chastise your insolence
And violent behaviour O
Well bound to Cashel you’ll be sent
Where you will gain no favour O
The magistrates will all consent
To sign your condemnation O
From there to Cork you will be sent
For speedy transportation O’

‘This parish and this neighbourhood
Are peaceable and tranquil O
There’s no disturbance here, thank God
And long may it continue so.
I don’t regard your oath a pin
Or sign for my committal O
My jury will be gentlemen
And grant me my acquittal O’

‘The consequence be what it will
A peeler’s power, I’ll let you know
I’ll handcuff you, at all events
And march you off to Bridewell O
And sure, you rogue, you can’t deny
Before the judge or jury O
Intimidation with your horns
And threatening me with fury O’

‘I make no doubt but you are drunk
With whiskey, rum, or brandy O
Or you wouldn’t have such gallant spunk
To be so bold or manly O
You readily would let me pass
If I had money handy O
To treat you to a poiteen glass
It’s then I’d be the dandy O’


Originally written by Darby Ryan of Bansha, Tipperary, over a century and a half ago, The Peeler and the Goat was inspired by a number of factors affecting 19th century Ireland. The Penal Laws had been passed with the intent of persecuting the Irish Catholic population and Sir Robert Peel had been appointed Secretary of Ireland by the British Government in 1812. Creating a police force was one of his first acts (an action thought of by the population of Ireland to simply be further interference with their liberties by Britain), his new officers were soon nicknamed Bobbies, a nickname that continues to this day, and Peelers, after their creator.  The song is reportedly inspired by police officers (Peelers) taking a number of goats into ‘custody’ for creating an obstruction on a road in Ireland.

Song Clip