> Martin Carthy > Songs > Funeral Party

Funeral Party

[ Roud 41013 ; Mudcat 5580 , 118559 ; trad.]

Cork singer Jimmy Crowley sang An Invitation to a Funeral on his 1981 album Some Things Never Change. He noted:

Many ‘Fancy Ball’ or "Stage Irish’ song wind up in the father and mother of a ruction and this one is no exception. I learned it at the singing festival at Beleek, Co Fermanagh, from Finbar Boyle. Ironically it is sung to the tune of a fine old reel called The Teetotaller.

Alistair Russell of the Battlefield Band sang The Funeral, followed by the reel The Teetotaller, in 1983 on his album Getting to the Border. He noted:

A surrealist epic ballad of mighty proportion, followed by the reel which gave it its tune.

In this YouTube video he is singing it in a radio programme:

Martin Carthy sang Funeral Party live in Whitby in 1984. This recording was released in 2013 on the digital download album Live in Whitby 1984.


Martin Carthy sings Funeral Party

I got an invitation to go to a funeral
But to my sad misfortune now the fellow didn’t die.
The manager he said he was vexed at disappointing us
But he apologised and might we let the thing go by?
To make up for disappointing us, he took us in and treated us,
He bought pints of porter for a company of ten.
Until one fella questioned him, his money he was squandering
So we put the fella’s eyelids into mourning there and then.

Now the owner of the beer shop when he saw us all a-coming
He gave orders to evict us, but of course we did refuse.
So he whistled up some loungers who were sitting in the corner,
And for ten or fifteen minutes we were badly abused.
Then we left the beer shop and down the street did stagger,
And a gang of corner boys started pelting us with mud.
We told them to go easy and they said that they were doing so,
And so we turned on them and left them lying where they stood.

Now, the next that we met was a gang of Salvationers,
They rifled all our pockets and they asked us were we saved?
And little Mick McGinty was invited to the station
For inquiring of a policeman if his appetite was shaved.
To make up McGinty’s bail we all took off our undershirts
And down to the pawnshop we took the jolly lot.
We asked for ten and sixpence, the price to free McGinty
But he’s had enough already was the answer that we got.

So we got the ten and sixpence and went off to free McGinty,
But the devil take the beer shop that met us on the way.
For we couldn’t pass the corner without taking some refreshment
And we spent every penny of the fine we had to pay.
Then we bought a concertina for to make the high hilarity,
Though none of us could play, though we tried our best—and worst.
We knocked a lot of noise from it, if it was any benefit,
We handled it so gentle that the bellows it did burst.

So, we got some hot potatoes for to mend the concertina
And then someone hit Maloney with the carcass of a cat.
He buttoned up his whiskers and began to read the Riot Act.
He swore he’d put two heads upon the villain who did that.
Then Maloney hit McGinty and McGinty hit some other man,
And everyone hit anyone to whom he owed a spite.
And the crippled McNamara who was sitting saying nothing
Got a kick that burst his eye for not indulging in the fight.

Now, the drinking it was in us and the sense was nearly out of us,
As for a bit of rioting we quickly did prepare.
We battered one another till we weren’t worth three ha’pence,
And I’m sure there was a carpet on the floor of skin and hair.
We battered one another ’till the police separated us
They marched us off to jail with broken noses and black eyes.
They marched us off to jail—and for me it was a lesson
For to never go to funerals until the fella dies!