The Old Leather Breeches (Donagh MacDonagh) video

See also: Leather Britches (Kenneth Peacock)
#2494: YouTube video by Dexter Whelan
©2014 ~ Used with permission ~

At the sign of the bell on the road to Clonmel
Paddy Haggerty kept a neat shebeen;
He sold pig's meat and bread, kept a good lodging bed
And was liked in the county he lived in.
Himself and his wife both struggled through life
And on weekdays Pat mended the ditches,
But on Sunday he dressed in a coat of the best
And his pride was his old leather breeches.

Last winter the snow left provisions so low
Poor Paddy was ate out completely;
The snow coming down he could not go to town
Thoughts of hunger did bother him greatly.
One night as he lay a-dreaming away
About big dogs, fairies and witches
He heard an uproar just outside the door
And he quickly leapt into his breeches.

Says Brian MacGurk with a voice like a Turk
"Come Paddy and get us some eating!"
Says big Andy Moore: "I'll burst open the door
For this is no night to be waiting!"
He scarcely had spoke when the door in they broke
And they crowded 'round Paddy like leeches,
And they swore by the hob if they didn't get prog
They would eat him clean out of his breeches.

Poor Paddy in dread slipped up to the bed
That held Judy, his own darling wife in,
And there 'twas agreed to give them a feed
He slipped out and brought a big knife in.
He cut out the waist of his breeches, the beast,
And cut out the buttons and stitches,
And he cut them in stripes the way you'd do tripes
And boiled them, his old leather breeches.

They walloped the stuff, says Andy "It's tough",
Says Paddy "You're no judge of mutton";
When Brian MacGurk on the point of his fork
Lifted up a big ivory button.
Says Darby "What's that? Sure I thought it was fat!"
Brian leapt to his feet and he screeches,
"By the powers above I was trying to shove
My teeth through the band of his breeches."

They all flew at Pat, he was gone out of that
He ran and he found them all rising,
Says Brian "Make haste and go for the priest,
By the holy Saint Patrick I'm poisoned!"
Revenge for the joke they had for they broke
All the chairs, bowl and table and dishes,
And from that very night they'll knock out your daylight
If they catch you with old leather breeches!

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, Paddy Hagerty's Leather Breeches published by W S Fortey (London) sometime between 1858 and 1885, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 11(2915) ....####
Collected by Donagh MacDonagh [1916-1968] for his program, Ireland Is Singing on Radio Eireann c.1940-1950.

A Newfoundland variant was collected in 1952 from Gordon Willis [1911-2001] of St John's, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published as Leather Britches in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 1, pp.71-72, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

From the Free Dictionary:
Shebeen - An Irish word meaning poor quality beer, used to mean an illegal drinking den.

The video above features a variant performed live by a patriarch of the Durkan family.


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