Playing For The Boneen (Johnny Burke)
See also: Little Boneen (MacEdward Leach)

In a corner quite cozy with rum red and rosy,
In a saddle roofed house that belonged to Kate Day,
Assembled last Friday togged off smart and tidy,
Gullivan's little black pig for to play.

There was big Paddy Kielly and Maurice O'Reilly,
Keneally and Wescott, O'Mally and Breen,
Silvey Doyle and Bill Mealy and Tervy O'Healey,
Sat down to play for the little boneen.

Jerry from Harry a one and two carry,
At least wrote O'Mally when counting his game;
Seven from Billy thrown in as a tilly,
Take Nathan from Denis, nothing remains.

The joseys were belted behind on the settle,
And the knaves were cast out for the partners to form;
And a drop of hot water Kate had in the kettle,
For a mouthful of hardware to keep the boys warm.

The partners were Kielly and old Silvey Doyle,
Keneally and Wescott, O'Mally and Breen;
And fists strong and able were welting the table,
As the cards were dealt out for the little boneen.

Let ye's bring in the pig, cried out Andy Keneally,
To see if she's rounded and plump on the ham;
I'll go out and fetch her, said shotbag O'Mally,
And the boneen stretched in with a string on her gam.

The boys stared with wonder and opened their eyes,
They thought they were playing for something was big;
When a fat undertaker, two clerks and a baker,
Nearly busted their sides when they looked at the pig.

The game was progressing, as you may be guessing,
When Fogarty hid a card under the chair;
The boys got exciting like bulldogs were fighting,
When somebody whispered 'twas very unfair.

But Fogarty fisted his pig by the tail,
And struck right and left where a head could be seen;
And Murphy, poor feller, was knocked into the cellar,
From a lick of the crube of the little boneen.

####.... Johnny Burke [1851-1930] of St John's, NL, 1904 ....####
Originally published as The Night We Played Cards For The Little Boneen in Burke's Popular Songs, page 19, 1929, Long Brothers, printers, St John's, NL.

Also published in Burke's Ballads, p.35, c.1960, compiled by John White and archived at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Libraries, Centre For Newfoundland Studies - Digitized Books collection.

See more songs by Johnny Burke.

A variant was sung in 1951 by John (Jack) Knight [1883-1975] of Shoe Cove, NL, and published as Little Boneen in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

From the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:
Boneen - young pig.
Crube - also crubeen; pig's trotter; especially the hock prepared for food by pickling.
Settle - long, home-made wooden bench with arms and high back; unupholstered couch; stretcher.
Tilly - small amount over and above quantity purchased, presented as a gift; tally.

From Wiktionary:
Gam - (slang) person's leg.

From Princeton University's WordNet:
Togged - dressed, especially in smart clothes.

Additional notes by GEST:
We surmise this card game to be the game of Euchre or a variant thereof based on the knaves (jacks) being dealt to determine playing partners. Hence, we assume joseys might be jokers. We are unable to find a better definition.


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