> Tim Hart & Maddy Prior > Songs > Paddy Stole the Rope

Paddy Stole the Rope

[ Roud 2037 ; Ballad Index OCon068 ; trad.]

Tim Hart and Maddy Prior recorded Paddy Stole the Rope in 1969 for their second duo album Folk Songs of Old England Vol. 2. The record's sleeve notes comment:

In the days before unemployment benefit a man out of work had the chioce of starving or stealing. This humorous account of two Irishmen who find themselves out of work and choose not to starve comes from the singing of Harry Knight of Laughton, Lewes, Sussex.

Lyrics

Tim Hart and Maddy Prior sing Paddy Stole the Rope

There were once two Irish labouring men; to England they came over;
And they tramped about in search of work from Liverpool to Dover.
Says Mike to Pat, “I'm tired of this; we're both left in the lurch;
And if I don't get work, bedad, I'll go and rob a church.”
“What, rob a church!” says Pat to Mike; “How could you be so vile?
For something sure would happen while wer're going down the aisle.
But if you do I'll go with you; and we'll get safe out, I hope;”
So, listen and I'll tell you now how Paddy stole the rope.

While off they went with theft intent to the place they wanted finding;
And they broke inside of a country church where nobody was minding.
And they scraped together all they could, they were prepared to slope,
When Paddy says, “Now hold on, Mike, what have we got for rope?
For we have no bag to hold our swag, and before we get outside,
With something strong and stout, my lad, this bundle must be tied.”
And just then he spied the church bell rope, and before you could turn about,
He did ride up the belfry high to climb that rope so stout.

And holding on by one hand and leg, he pulled his clasp knife out,
And right above his hand and head he cut that rope so stout.
Well, he quite forgot it held him up, and, by the Holy Pope,
Down to the bottom of the church fell Paddy and the rope.

“Come out of that,” says Mike to Pat, “and will you stop your moaning,
“If that's the way you steal a rope, it's no wonder that you're groaning.
I'll show you how to steal the rope, if you lend to me your knife.”
“O Mike, go easy,” says old Pat, “or else you'll lose your life.”
So Mike climbed up the other rope, just like an antelope
But instead of cutting it off above, he cut it off below.
Down fell the other piece of rope and Mike was left on high.
“Come down”, says Pat. “I can't,” says Mick, “for if I drop, I'll die.”

Well their noise it brought the beagles out, the sexton and police,
And though they got poor Micky down, they spared them no release.
And for their ingenuity they have now a wider scope
Than when they broke inside a church to go and steal the rope.