Which came first the chicken or the egg. I first learned about "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" from a popular American version written during the Civil War. That song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" was first published in 1863 as "Words and Music by Louis Lambert," which was a pseudonym for Patrick Sarsfield, 1829-1892. Patrick was a native of Ireland who emigrated to Boston. "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" is a rousing song about a hero returning from war.

The first published version of "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" came out several years after Sarsfield's song. Nevertheless, it is strongly believed to have originated in Ireland.

It's a much more somber song that tells about the woes and horrors of war in the popular folk tradition of describing the body parts blown off a soldier who does not come home to his love.

Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye Lyrics:

While on the road to sweet Athy, hurroo, hurroo
While on the road to sweet Athy, hurroo, hurroo
While on the road to sweet Athy
A stick in me hand and a drop in me eye
A doleful damsel I heard cry,
Johnny I hardly knew ye.

With your drums and guns and drums and guns, hurroo, hurroo
With your drums and guns and drums and guns, hurroo, hurroo
With your drums and guns and drums and guns
The enemy nearly slew ye
Oh my darling dear, Ye look so queer
Johnny I hardly knew ye.

Where are your eyes that look so mild, hurroo, hurroo
Where are your eyes that look so mild, hurroo, hurroo
Where are your eyes that look so mild
When my poor heart you first beguiled
Why did ye run from me and the child
Oh Johnny, I hardly knew ye.

chorus

Where are your legs with which ye run, hurroo, hurroo
Where are your legs with which ye run, hurroo, hurroo
Where are your legs with which ye run
When first you learned to carry a gun
Indeed your dancing days are done
Oh Johnny, I hardly knew ye.

chorus

I'm happy for to see ye home, hurroo, hurroo
I'm happy for to see ye home, hurroo, hurroo
I'm happy for to see ye home
All from the island of Sulloon
So low in flesh, so high in bone
Oh Johnny I hardly knew ye.

chorus

Ye haven't an arm, ye haven't a leg, hurroo, hurroo
Ye haven't an arm, ye haven't a leg, hurroo, hurroo
Ye haven't an arm, ye haven't a leg
Ye're an armless, boneless, chickenless egg
Ye'll be having to put a bowl to beg
Oh Johnny I hardly knew ye.

chorus

I'm happy for to see ye home, hurroo, hurroo
I'm happy for to see ye home, hurroo, hurroo
I'm happy for to see ye home
All from the island of Ceylon;
So low in the flesh, so high in the boon.
Johnny I hardly knew ye.

chorus

Extra lyrics I found:

They're rolling out the guns again, hurroo, hurroo
They're rolling out the guns again, hurroo, hurroo
They're rolling out the guns again
But they never will take our sons again
No they never will take our sons again
Johnny I'm swearing to ye.

Direct download: PubSongsPodcast-002.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm CST

If you enjoy American folk music you might be familiar with this tune. The American version is called "The Girl I Left Behind", but this is the Irish version of the song. It's called "Waxies Dargle". What does that mean?

"Waxies" were candlemakers.

"Dargle" referred to an annual trip that the Waxies made to the seaside town of Bray in county Wicklow, Ireland just 12 miles from Dublin.

The melody is believed to be from the time of Queen Elizabeth the first in the late 1500s. The tune was known in America as early as 1650 where it was believed to be from England. In Ireland it was first published in 1791 as "The Rambling Laborer and the Spailpin Fanach".

I first heard it on a cassette called Irish Drinking Songs from Columbia River by an anonymous band.  I recorded "Waxies Dargle" on my CD Happy Songs of Death in 2009.

Waxie's Dargle Lyrics:

Says my aul' wan to your aul' wan
"Will ye go to the Waxies dargle?"
Says your aul' wan to my aul' wan,
"Sure I haven't got a farthing.
I've just been down to Monto town
To see Uncle McArdle
But he didn't have half a crown
For to go to the Waxies dargle."

What will ye have, will ye have a pint?
Yes, I'll have a pint with you, sir,
And if one of ye doesn't order soon
We'll be thrown out of the boozer.

Says my aul' wan to your aul' wan
"Will ye go to the Galway races?"
Says your aul' wan to my aul' wan,
"With the price of my aul' man's braces.
I went down to Capel Street
To the Jew man moneylenders
But he wouldn't give me a couple of bob on
My aul' lad's red suspenders."

chorus

Says my aul' wan to your aul' wan
"We got no beef or mutton
But if we go down to Monto town
We might get a drink for nuttin'"
Here's a nice piece of advice
I got from an aul' fishmonger:
"When food is scarce and you see the hearse
You'll know you have died of hunger.

chorus

Direct download: PubSongsPodcast-001.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm CST

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