When Paddy Stole The Rope (MacEdward Leach)

There once was two Irishmen
From Ireland came o'er,
They came across in search of work
From New York down to Dover;
Says Mike to Pat, "I'm tired of this.
We're both left in the lurch.
Be jaypers, Pat, I'll tell you what,
We'll go and rob a church."

"What! Rob a church!" says Mike to Pat,
"How could you be so vile?
For something bad will happen to us
While in the sacred aisle;
But if you do, I'll go with you.
We'll get out safe, I hope."
Come, listen, and I'll tell to you
How Paddy stole the rope.

They marched around from place to place
And places they were wanting,
Till they came across a country church
That nobody was minding;
They scraped together all they could
And then prepared to slope,
When Mickey cried, "Hold on now, Pat,
What shall we do for rope?

"We have no bag to carry the swag,
Before we go outside,
With something stout and strong,
My boy, this bundle must be tied."
Oh, then he spied the belfry rope
And as if he was an antelope,
He scrambled up the belfry heights
To go and steal the rope.

But when he reached the belfry rope,
Be jaypers, then he stopped,
"To get a piece that's long enough,
I must climb to the top."
Then like a sailor up he went,
When near the end, said he,
"I think the piece that's underneath
Quite long enough shall be."

So holding by one arm and leg,
He took his clasp knife out,
And right above his head and hands
He cut the rope so stout;
He little thought that it held him up
By the powers of Dr. Pope,
Down to the bottom of the place
Fell Paddy and the rope.

Says Mike to Pat, "Get out of that,"
While he on the floor lay moaning,
"If that's the way you steal a rope,
No wonder now you're groaning;
I'll show you how to steal a rope,
So just lend me your knife."
"Be careful," cries out Pat to Mike,
"Or else you'll lose your life."

Mick scrambled up the other rope,
And being an artful thief,
But instead of cutting it above,
He cut it underneath;
The piece fell down and he was left
To hang up there and mope,
"Bad luck," says he, "Unto the day
When I comes stealing rope."

Whist Paddy on the floor did lie
And Mickey hung on high,
"Come down," says Pat. "l can't," says Mike,
"For if I do I'll die."
The noise soon fetched the sexton 'round,
The parson and police,
Although they set poor Mickey free,
The pair got no release.

They took them to a station
And conducted in a room,
And if they had nothing before
They got plenty now to do;
And for their ingenuity
We'll give them a smaller scope,
But Paddy'll ne'er forget the day
When he went to steal a rope.

####.... Fred Albert (lyrics), Frank Egerton (music). Variant of a 19th-century music sheet, How Paddy Stole The Rope, published in 1885 by Willis Woodward and Co, New York, NY, and archived at the Music Division, Library of Congress, shelf location: Music For A Nation: American Sheet Music (1870-1885), digital i.d. sm188507225. Also a variant of a British broadside ballad, How Paddy Stole The Rope, published by an unknown printer without a date, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 20(65) ....####
Collected in 1951 from Tom Cornelly possibly of St Shott's, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA). MacEdward Leach collected another variant in 1951 from John Augustus Molloy [1895-?] of St Shott's, NL, which was also published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

GEST notes: Since Tom Cornelly's name is so similar to Tom Cornealy's, it is possible this song was collected from Tom Cornealy of Halifax, Halifax County, Nova Scotia, who Helen Creighton described as an informative old shellback (a sailor who has crossed the equator by boat) who claimed to have composed the marine ballad Captain Conrod in 1883, and also sang The Schooner Mary Anne and several shanties for her. This may also be true since no record of Tom Cornelly can be found in St Shott's.


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