> Mike Waterson > Songs > The Rambling Irishman

To Reap and Mow the Hay / The Rambling Irishman

[ Roud 12937 ; Ballad Index RcTRAMTH ; trad.]

Paddy and Jimmy Halpin sang To Reap and Mow the Hay, in McGrath's bar in Brookeborough, Co. Fermanagh, on July 18, 1977. This recording made by Keith Summers was published in in 1998 on the Topic anthology There Is a Man Upon the Farm (The Voice of the People Volume 20) and in 2004 on the Musical Traditions anthology The Hardy Sons of Dan. Rod Stradling commented in the accompanying booklet:

This is the only instance of this song in Roud's Index, but I know I've heard other versions of it. A truly delightful, and quite modern, song; it's almost Paddy Halpin's life story—but with Ireland and Scotland's positions reversed!

Mike Waterson sang this song as The Rambling Irishman on December 1, 1990 on the Folkscene KFPF Los Angeles radio programme Singing in the Seasons. This recording was included in 2004 on the Watersons' 4 CD anthology Mighty River of Song, together with The Watersons singing There Are No Lights on Our Christmas Tree at the same event.

Lyrics

Paddy & Jimmy Halpin sing To Reap and Mow the Hay Mike Waterson sings The Rambling Irishman

I just come o'er from Erin's shore
To see how trade was going here.
Like many a rambling Irishman
I was forced to leave my home.
I left my sweet Dungannon, boys,
Where I spent my youthful days,
Where I whistled, fought and wrestled
In the County of Tyrone.

Now I've just come o'er from Erin shore
For to see how trade was doing here.
Like many's the rambling Irishmen
I was forced to leave my home.
I left my sweet Dungannon, boys,
Where I did spent my youthful days,
Where I whistled, sport and rambled through
The County of Tyrone.

The landlord and the times was bad;
To reap the harvest off I went.
When I saw my birthplace levelled;
I could no longer stay,
Then with my switch and reaping hook
I gave the sod a farewell look.
I started o'er to Scotland for
To reap and mow the hay.

Now the landlord and the times was bad;
So to leave my birthplace off I went.
When I saw my homestead levelled, boys,
I could no longer stay,
So with my switch and reaping hook
I've given the sod a farewell look.
And I started out for Scotland, boys,
To reap and mow the hay.

I scarcely landed in this place
When I got employment there and then
To reap a field of barley
With about a dozen more.
There was men from Leeds and Lancashire,
From Birmingham and London, too.
But my heart began to sicken when
I thought on days gone by.

Now I'd scarcely landed in the place
When I got employment there and then
For to reap a field of barley
With about one dozen more.
There were men from Leeds, from Lancashire,
From Birmingham and London too.
But my heart began to sicken when
I thought on the days gone by.

Now, breakfast time it come at last
And every man threw down his hook,
And went up to the barn for
To have his morning meal.
I had no money; I had no grub,
And how to find it was a job.
I thought it better to work and fast
Than rob and go to gaol.

Breakfast time came round at last
And every man he threw down his hook,
And he went into the big barn
For to have his morning meal.
Now I'd no money, I had no grub,
And how to get some was the rub.
So I thought I'd better work and fast
Than rob and go to gaol.

This thought had scarcely crossed my brow
When the farmer shouted, “Pat!” aloud,
“Come on up, man, and eat your fill.
I know you're far from home,
Far from your own little Shamrock shore.
Come eat and drink and say no more,
And stay with me a week or so
When I'm putting in the hay.”

No sooner the thought it did cross my brow
When the farmer shouted out aloud,
He says, “Come up, Pat, come eat your fill,
For I know you're far from home,
Far from your homely Shamrock shore.
Come eat, come drink, come feel secure,
And stay with me a week or so
While we're putting in the hay.”

His only housemaid was a niece,
A young Scots lass about sixteen.
She was comely, tall and handsome
And her eyes shone like the stars.
Her father was a soldier bold
As ever did a rifle hold,
But he lost his heart's blood fighting
In the 1914 War.

Now his only housemaid she was a niece,
A young Scotch lassie about sixteen,
Being comely, tall and handsome, boys,
And eyes shone like the stars.
And her father'd been a soldier bold
As ever did the rifle hold,
But he lost his heart's blood fighting
In the 14-18 War.

So now, as they say in Ireland,
We'll gather up and we'll have a dance.
I'll tell her pleasant stories of
The green isle far away.
We asked and got the old boy's consent
And to the clergy straight we went.
When the sun was shining, boys,
Sure, we were drinking tea.

So now was the say in old Ireland,
We'll gather up and we'll have a dance.
We'll swap those pleasant stories
As we did in days of yore.
For I asked and I got the old lad's consent
And straightway to the clergy went,
And before the sun was halfway spent
We were sitting supping tea.

So it's now I'll go back to Ireland,
I'd like see to the old place again.
We'll sit and sing the praises of
The green isle far away.
I'll bring my Scots lass home with me,
I'll dandle her youngster on my knee,
And once a year I'll Scotland see,
When I go to make the hay.

And now I'll go back to old Ireland
For I'd love to see the old place again,
To swap those pleasant stories
Of the green isle far away.
I'll take the Scotch lass home with me
And I'll dandle our baby on my knee,
And once a year I'll Scotland see
When we come to cut the hay.

Acknowledgements

Transcribed from the singing of Mike Waterson by Reinhard Zierke with help from Wolfgang Hell. Thank you!

Thanks to Lisa Feldman too for helping me with cataloguing this song.