Wrestling With Rats (Tim Dennehy) MIDI
See also: The Waterford Boys (MacEdward Leach)
midi file   alt: midi file

For fun and diversion we have come together,
I tell you from Waterford hither we came;
We crossed the deep ocean in dark stormy weather,
Our hearts they were light and our pockets the same.
Sad at leaving Old Ireland, we're once more on dry land,
When at the roadside a tavern I spied;
And as I was melting, my pockets I felt in,
For the price of a drink I was mortally dry.

To the tavern I rolled, and the landlord he strolled in,
"Good morrow," said he, and said I, "If you please;
Will you get me a bed and then bring me some bread,
And a bottle of porter and a small piece of cheese."
My bread and cheese ended, I then condescended,
To take my repose so I bade him goodnight;
When under the clothes I was trying to doze,
I first ducked my toes and then blew out the light.

Now, I wasn't long sleeping when I heard something creeping,
And gnawing and chawing around the bedpost;
O, my breath I suspended but the noise never ended,
Says I, "You have damnable claws for a ghost."
For to make myself easy, I being very lazy,
My head once more I stuck out from the clothes;
Yerra! Japers! What's that, but a thundering jack-rat,
Took one leap from the floor, jumped right up to my nose.

Well, I reached for my hobnailed and made him a bobtail,
And wrestled with rats till the clear light of day;
Then the landlord came in and he said with a grin,
"For your supper and bed you've five shillings to pay."
"Five shillings for what, now don't be disgracing yourself,"
Says I to the rogue, "If you please;
While I can't get to sleep you've the devil's own cheek,
For to charge me five shillings for dry bread and cheese".

Oh, the landlord went rearing and leaping and tearing,
He jumped through the window and kicked in the door;
When he could get no farther he cried, "Meele murder!
These rats they are eating me up by the score.
Sure, they sleep in my stable, they eat from my table,
They wrestle my dogs and they kill all my cats."
"Faith then," says I, "Just give me those five shillings,
And I'll tell you a way to get rid of the rats."

"Well, I will then," said he, as he handed the silver,
"My life is a wreck and my nights are a curse;
My wife has long left me, my children neglect me,
My grassy green fields have all turned to furze."
"Ah, you miser," says I, "Just invite them to supper,
And dry bread and cheese lay before them for sure;
Never mind if they're willing but charge them five shillings,
And never the rat will again cross your floor."

####.... Harry Clifton [1832-1872] ....####
Originally published in broadsheet form, this song later appeared in The Mercier Book Of Old Irish Street Ballads (1989). Most versions can be traced to Paddy Tunney who recorded it on A Wild Bees' Nest (1965). A London music-hall writer and performer, Harry Clifton popularized such songs as On Board the Kangaroo and Pulling Hard Against The Stream.

This variant arranged and recorded by Tim Dennehy (The Blue Green Door - Songs of Love, Loss and Longing Volume 3, trk#6, Sceilig Records, Miltown Malbay, County Clare, Ireland).

A variant was collected in 1951 from Francis (Frank) Knox [1918-?] of St Shott's, NL, and published as The Waterford Boys in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A variant was also collected as The Waterford Boys, #72 in Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland, by Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1933; Folklore Associates, Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 1968).

GEST notes: Japers is in Hiberno-English - also known as Irish English - the dialect of English spoken in Ireland, not a misspelling.


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