The night before Larry was stretched


The night before Larry was stretched
The boys, they all paid him a visit
A bait in their sacks too they fetched
They sweated their duds till they ris’ it
For Larry was ever the lad
When a boy was condemned to the Squeezer
Would fence all the duds that he had
For to help a poor friend to a sneezer
And moisten his gob ‘fore he died

The boys, they came crowding in fast
They drew all their stools ’round about him
Six glims round his trap case was placed
He couldn’t be well waked without them
When one of us asked, “Could he die
Without having duly repented?”
Said Larry, “That’s all in me eye
And first by the Clergy invented
For to get a fat bit for themselves”

“I’m sorry, dear Larry” says I
“To see you in this situation
And blister me limbs if I lie
I’d as lief it had been my own situation”
“Ochone ! It’s all over” says he
“For the neckcloth I’ll be forced to put on
And this time tomorrow you’ll see
Poor Larry as dead as a mutton
Brcause why, his courage was good”

“And I’ll be cut up like a pie
And me nob from me body be parted”
“You’re in the wrong box, then” says I
For blast me if they’re so hardhearted
A chalk on the back of your neck
Is all that Jack Ketch dares to give you
Then mind not such trifle’s a feck
For why should the likes of them grieve you?
And now boys, come tip us the deck”

The cards being called for, then played
Until Larry found one of them cheated
A dart in his napper, he made
For the boy he’d been easily heated
“Hero, be the hokey, you thief
I’ll scuttle your knob with me doddle
You cheat me because I’m in grief
Ah, but soon I’ll demolish your noddle
And leave you your claret to drink”

Then the clergy came in with his book
And he spoke him so smooth and so civil
Larry tipped him a Kilmainham look
And pitched his big wig to the devil
Then sighing, he threw back his head
For to get a sweet drop of the bottle
And pityful sighing he said
“Oh, the hemp will be soon ’round me throttle
And choke me poor windpipe to death

“Though sure it’s the best way to die
Oh, the dead are no better than living
For when the damned gallows is high
Your journey is shorter to Heaven”
But what harasses Larry the most
And makes his soul poor melancholy
Is he thinks of the time when his ghost
It will come in a sheet to sweet Molly
Oh sure, it will kill her alive’

So moving, these last words he spoke
We vented our tears in a shower
Meself, sure I thought me heart broke
For to see him cut down like a flower
On his travels, we watched him next day
The throttler, I thought I could kill him
But Larry not one word did say
Nor changed till he come to King William
Then musha, his colour grow white

When he came to the old numbing chit
He was tucked up so neat and so pretty
The rumbler jugged off from his feet
And he died with his face to the city
He kicked too, but that was all pride
For soon you might see ’twas all over
Soon after the noose was untied
In darkness we waked him in clover
And sent him to take his ground sweat


A traditional Dublin song written around 1900 about an execution in Kilmainham jail – collected by Colm O Lochlainn

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