The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #105491   Message #2172010
Posted By: GUEST,Bob Coltman
15-Oct-07 - 10:06 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Whiskey You're the Divil
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Whiskey You're the Divil
Back from a wild 'n wooly trip through the Bodleian and some other sources too. It appears that much of my instinct about "Whiskey You're the Divil" is borne out. This is the first of several messages in which I'll try to lay out the song's origins (found!) and disentangle its different parts.

First, and most important, a lucky find of a reference on Liam Clancy's messageboard --

-- tipped me to a series of messages. After some discussion of "Whiskey You're the Divil," a contributor, Sean, states that "the song was written in America by a Jewish-American lawyer for a friend of his who was an Irish-American judge." Sean located the sheet music at American Memory.

I traced that sheet music. It credits the song to Jerry Barrington, the "great Irish vocalist." He wrote and published it in 1873 for James Bracken, Esq. of New York. The words are substantially the same.

(By the way, Sean cites Tommy Makem as stating that the Clancy Bros. never recorded the song. Untrue. They did it on their Tradition LP "Come Fill a Glass With Us" as "Whiskey You're the Devil," with Liam soloing. The notes say Patrick Clancy learned the song from his grandmother.)

Here is the Barrington original. Note the variance in the refrain. But "Whiskey in the jar" does appear -- borrowed, it would seem, from the earlier "Kilgarry Mountain," which appears in four apparently identical broadsides, the oldest dating between 1846 and 1854.

(It may seem quixotic, but I still insist it's worth searching for an EARLIER "Whiskey in the Jar" song from which "Kilgarry Mountain" and its later versions like "Whiskey in the Bar" derived their chorus line.)


Written and composed by Jerry Barrington, Arr. by R. Steirly. Published by E. H. Harding, 288 Bowery, NY 1873.

Now brave boys we're on for marching off to Portigil [sic] and Spain,
Drums are beating, colors flying, divil a home we'll go again,
Love farewell.

Cho: With my Re arruh arrah, with my re arrul arrah,
         My re arruh a raddy, Oh! There's Whiskey in the jar.
         Oh! Whiskey you're the Divil, you've led me astray,
         Over hills and over mountains, and out of the way,
         You're stronger, sweeter, decent, and spunk-er than tea,
         Oh whiskey you're my darling, drunk or sober.

Says the mother, do not wrong me, do not take my daughter from me,
If you do I will torment you, and after death my ghost will haunt you,

Now the drums are beating boldly, men are dying hot and coldly,
Give ev'ry man his flask of powder, and his firelock on his shoulder,