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Cooney the Tinker

GUEST,George Henderson 13 Mar 13 - 08:04 AM
Matthew Edwards 13 Mar 13 - 09:41 AM
Matthew Edwards 13 Mar 13 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,George Henderson 13 Mar 13 - 10:35 AM
Matthew Edwards 13 Mar 13 - 06:49 PM
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Subject: Cooney the Tinker
From: GUEST,George Henderson
Date: 13 Mar 13 - 08:04 AM

I am looking for more details of a song which Pate Wood sings. He calls it Cooney the Tinker. I think it is probably a P.J.McCall song. He has been signing it for years but would like to know the history behind the song.

Maybe Fergus or Martin Ryan may have come across it.

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Subject: Lyr Add: Cooney the Tinker
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 13 Mar 13 - 09:41 AM

When my eagle eye spotted this I thought it might be a song for Sean Cooney on the Young'Uns, but it is indeed a P J McCall composition from his 1904 collection 'Pulse of the Bards',where it is titled "Paddy Mahony's Lament for Cooney the Tinker". The book can be seen online at the Internet Archive; see Pulse of the Bards

Just for the record anyway here are the lyrics from that book.


Air—" The Jolly Tinker," in Levy's "Dance Music," p. 40, Vol. II.

Paddy Mahony sitting at work by the Cross of Rathangan sings as follows : —

OF all the Tinmen we see pass from Inniscorthy Bridge to Rass,
There's ne'er a man that drives an ass can work a bit o' sawther;
On hammer tight, a bottom down, like Cooney out o' Wexford Town —
'Twas he, bedad, could earn a crown without the slightest bother!
Och, 'twould do you good to spy him, if, my lad, you could get nigh him.
With the ditch for shelter by him while he med a measure!
First, the sides so shapely lappin', then, the bottom nately rappin';
Till the handle rivets tappin', he stretched at his leisure!
Jerry's lad isn't bad — when he does begin!
Doran's Jack isn't slack at a gallon tin!
All the rest, at their best, couldn't hold a pin —
Och, Cooney was a masther hand to keep the wather in !

Oft in Taghmon he raised the fun; for scarcely was the fair begun,
You'd see his darlin' childher run with hanks of hairy asses!
A donkey's age he'd tell you quick ; for Cooney you could never thrick —
Its teeth he called his "Alminick," to count each year that passes!
Och, you'd swear it was a ruction, when commenced the asses' auction ;
But of all the Tinker faction, he was first and foremost!
Red and shaggy, raw and bony — haith, he med a power o' money ;
And his voice was sweet as honey when an ass would roar most!
He'd engage its true age to the date and day;
And he'd know how 'twould go by the very bray!
"Wid ye pass a car-ass, that could drag a dray?"
Och, Cooney was the mischief — he had sich a slutherin' way !

Once, when brave Lowrum travelled down — the Tinker King, from Carla' Town —
He thought bowld Cooney to come round to give him Mag, the Daughter!
But Wexford's Monarch, all alive, found that the play boy couldn't give
His pound for pound to get the wife — so she stayed with the Father!
Angry grew each mottled feature of the Carla' Scallion Eater! —
Never in a penny thaytre was there such a battle!
Cooney called the lad a Bocagh; he called Cooney back a Geocagh!
Till a sasspan on his stomach med a n'isy rattle!
Then the fight opened right, till the peelers saw;
When they brought all who fought off to get The Law!
In the court there was sport, fightin', and abuse;
And the papers med a fortune when they prented it for news!

When stiff at last at Slippery Green,a splendid getherin' was seen
Of Metalmen, his kith and kin, that kem to wake their crony !
They tramped from Rass by Parnell's Crass, with wife and child and hungry ass,
In blood and tears I seen them pass, turned upside down for Cooney!
His old comrades, Phaynix Doran, Mosy Horan, Doodherman Moran,
All went throopin' by Kilscoran off to Bishop's water!
Jirry Connors and his brother, Jirry's aunt and Jirry's mother;
And ould Cash crossed o'er the border with his lovely daughter!
Wexford's Town of renown never saw the like;
As the gang fought and sang like a crowd on strike!
While they cried far and wide — "May Heaven mend his soul!
We've never put a patch as good as Cooney on a hole!"


Bocagh, a lame beggar.

Geocagh, a spendthrift, glutton.

Slippery Green, the Tinkers quarter in Wexford.

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Subject: RE: Cooney the Tinker
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 13 Mar 13 - 09:47 AM

By the way I found a lot more background information here; Folk Traditions of Taghmon Parish, by Jacqui Sidney.


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Subject: RE: Cooney the Tinker
From: GUEST,George Henderson
Date: 13 Mar 13 - 10:35 AM


Thanks for the instant response. Very much appreciated. Thanks also for the links.

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Subject: RE: Cooney the Tinker
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 13 Mar 13 - 06:49 PM

Delighted to be able to help out George; I'd love to hear the song being sung. It has such glorious and exuberant language, with some masterful rhyming, assonance and alliteration. I really relish the line about "Angry grew each mottled feature of the Carla' Scallion Eater!", although I'd want to be careful about repeating it in public!

I think that P J McCall (1861-1919) deserves a bit more attention; he is the author of some excellent songs such as Boolavogue, The Boys of Wexford [attributed to Robert Dwyer Joyce?], Kelly the Boy from Killane, and Follow Me Up To Carlow. He was also a song collector whose collection of country songs and street ballads are in the National Library of Ireland; these have been copied in 13 volumes for deposit in the Irish Traditional Music Archive.

There is a recent biography Glory O! Glory O! by Liam Gaul, which looks very interesting, but I hope that Martin or Fergus will be along to add something more, perhaps in a separate thread dedicated to P J McCall.


PS I tried to post this earlier today but then the whole Mudcat website crashed which I hope wasn't my fault!

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