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The Rocky Road To Dublin

(Written by D.K. Gavan; arranged by Brendan Nolan, Gerry O'Neill and Toby Kinsella)

[Tempus Fugitive]

Key of D minor, changing to E minor in the last 2 verses.

This song is written to the beat of what is called a slip-jig. However, when I'm performing it, it can vary between a regular jig and a slip-jig. It was written around the middle part of the 1800's by the Galway poet, D.K. Gavan. He wrote it for Harry Clifton, an English Musical Hall performer. Maybe this is why it was used in the recent movie "Sherlock Holmes" with Robert Downey Jr. The song is played during the fight scene and also when the credits are rolling at the end. It is the version recorded by Luke Kelly and the Dubliners which was my first introduction to the song back in the early 60's. The story concerns the protagonist's adventures as he travels from his home in Tuam, County Galway, in the west of Ireland. He's headed to Liverpool on the west coast of England, probably looking for work.

In the merry month of May, from me home I started
I left the girls of Tuam nearly broken-hearted
Saluted father dear, I kissed me darlin' mother
Drank a pint of beer, me grief and tears to smother
Then off to reap the corn, leave where I was born
I cut a stout blackthorn, to banish ghosts and goblins
In a brand new pair of brogues, rattlin' o'er the bogs
Frightenin' all the dogs, on the Rocky Road to Dublin

One, two, three, four, five, hunt the hare and turn her
Down the Rocky road, and all the way to Dublin

In Mullingar that night, I rested limbs so weary
Started by daylight, me spirits light and airy
Took a drop of the pure, to keep me heart from sinkin'
That's the Paddy's cure, when e'er he's on for drinkin'
To see the lassies smile, laughin' all the while
At me curious style, 'twould set your heart a-bubblin'
They ax'd if I was hired, the wages I required
Till I was almost tired, of the Rocky Road to Dublin

In Dublin next arrived, I thought it such a pity
To be so soon deprived a view of that fine city
Then I took a stroll, all among the quality
Me bundle it was stole, in a neat locality
Somethin' crossed me mind, then I looked behind
No bundle could I find, upon me stick a wobblin'
Enquirin' for the rogue, they said me Connaucht brogue
Wasn't much in vogue, on the Rocky Road to Dublin

From there I got away, me spirits never failin'
Landed on the quay, just as the ship was sailin'
The captain at me roared, said that no room had he
When I jumped aboard, a cabin found for Paddy
Down among the pigs; I played some funny rigs
Danced some hearty jigs, the water 'round me bubblin
When off Holyhead, I wished myself was dead
Or better far instead, on the Rocky Road to Dublin

The boys of Liverpool, when we safely landed
Called myself a fool, I could no longer stand it
Blood began to boil, temper I was losin'
Poor ould Erin's Isle they began abusin'
"Hurrah me soul," sez I, me shillelagh I let fly
Some Galway boys were by, saw I was a-hobblin'
Then with a loud hurray, joining in the affray
We quickly cleared the way, for the Rocky Road to Dublin