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Lyr Add: Larry O'Gaff

Jim Dixon 12 Sep 18 - 10:13 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Larry O'Gaff
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 12 Sep 18 - 10:13 AM

I figure this song deserves its own thread. It has been mentioned many times in various threads as the source of a tune to which many other songs are sung, but the lyrics had never been posted, at least not until The Sandman posted a version here in a thread about “Irish songs in 6/8 rhythm.” He didn’t give a source, but it seems to me his version has been heavily folk-processed. The version below should be closer to the original.

I found this version in The Harmonists' Preceptor, Or Treasury of Mirth by M. Bryant (London: John Fairburn, 1825), page 110:


Near a bog in sweet Ireland, I'm told, sure, that born was.
Well I remember, a fine muddy morn it was.
Father cries out, poor man: “What a green-horn I was!
  Two months I'm married, och hone, how they‘ll laugh!
Arrah Katey,” says he, “I leave you, I swear, my joy.”
Katey, she cries: “Arrah, Devil may care, my boy.”
“Then, by St. Patrick, I’ll leave you both there, my joy.”—
  Off in a huff goes my father O'Gaff,
    Singing: “Ditheroo, whack! Off I am.
    None of your blarney, Ma’am.
    Take your brat,—to him chat,
    All the day,—so you may.
Faith, I‘ll not tarry,” then left little Larry,
  Who saw nothing more of his father O‘Gaff.

Soon I grew up, and a neat looking chick I was.
Devil’s own fellow for twirling the stick I was.
Somehow or other my poor nob so thick it was,
  Go where I would ev'ry crater would laugh!
To England I came, where I met wid a squad,
Aye, and soon got promoted to carry the hod,
Trod the ladder as light as a horse newly shod.
  Step by step to promotion goes Larry O‘Gaff.
    But 'twas Ditheroo, whack! in and out,
    Head turning round about,
    Up and down, giddy grown,
    Ladder crack, break one‘s back,
“Och,” says I, “Larry, this hod which you carry
  Disgraces the shoulder of Mr. O'Gaff.”

I got me a master, and dressed like a fop I was,
Bran new, and span new, from bottom to top I was.
Once he popped in, just while taking a drop I was,
  “Larry,” says he, “you bog-trotting calf,
Get out of my house, or I’ll lay this about your back!”
Flourished a stick, like the mast of a herring smack,
Over my napper,—in two he this switch did crack!
  Then he turns off Mr. Larry O'Gaff.—
    But its Ditheroo whack, hububboo,
    Drums beating row de dow;
    Odds my life, let the fife,
    Patrick’s-day, fire away;
Lads, while you're frisky, I'll swallow your whiskey,
  With a whack for old Ireland and Larry O‘Gaff.

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