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The Devil and the Bailiff

[Across The Great Divide]

Words: Cathal MacGarvey
Music: Brendan Nolan


My sister Frances and brother-in-law Eugene once gave me a series of old books published by Walton's Irish Music Shop in Dublin. They had some great old songs in them. The Bailiff was one of the most feared people in nineteenth century Ireland. In this song you might say, "he gets his."

One fine pleasant evening last summer
I was strolling through Cahirciveen
When a pair of quare playboys collogin'
before me I happened to see
Now to know what these boyos were up to
in a trifle I hastened me walk
And begor' I soon learned their profession
when I got within line of their talk

Now one of these lads was the divil
and the other was bailiff McGlynn
And the one was as nice as the other
for they both were as ugly as sin
Says the ould lad, "Ye know I'm the divil
and you are a bailiff I see"
"It's the divil himself", says the bailiff
"well now that bates the divil", says he

Then a young lad ran out of a cottage
and off with him over the fields

"May the divil take you", says his mother
as she rattled a stone off his heels
"Arrah why don't you take the young rascal
Your Highness," the bailiff he cried
"Ah! 'twas not from her heart the wish it came,"
the divil he smiling replied

Close by a small plot of potatoes
a bonham was striving to dig
When the owner ran out and she shouted
"may the divil take you for a pig"
Says the bailiff, "Now there's a fine offer,
why not take the bonham?" says he
Says the divil, "Her lips only said it
and that's not sufficient for me"

As they jogged on a young lad espied them
and into his mother he fled
Shouting, "Oh, mother dear here's the bailiff"
well she clasped her two hands and she said
Says the divil, "Begob that I'll do
It was straight from her heart the wish it came
so bailiff McGlynn, I'LL TAKE YOU"