The Bold Tenant Farmer

Melody -

One evening of late into Bandon I strayed
I was bound for Clonakilty I was making me way
At Ballinishcarthy some time I delayed
For to wet me auld whistle with porter.
|: Tithery-ow-tow, tithery-ow-tow,
Tithery-ow-tow-tow-tum :|
Tithery-ow-tah-den, tithery-ow-tow,
Tithery-ow-tah-den, doodle-e-darrow.

2. Well I spate in me fist and I picked up me stick
And up the coach road like a deer I did skip
For I care not for bailiff landlord or auld Nick
And sang like a lark in the morning.

3. Well I scarcely had travelled one mile of the road
When I heard a dispute in a farmers abode
The son of the landlord an ill looking toad
And the wife of the bold tenant farmer.

4. He said what the devil’s come over you all?
Not one penny of rent at each time that I call
By next October I'll settle you all
For you’ll have the high road for your garden.

5. "A robber" the bold tenants wife she replied
"You’re as bad as your daddy on the other side
But the National Land League will put down your pride
For they’re able to bear every storm.

6. Its branches extend to country and town
Protecting the tenants, their houses and ground
I owe you twelve months and I'll give you one pound
If you clear our receipts in the morning.

7. When she spoke of the Land League his lips they grew pale
Saying "What good have you done but be stuck into jail
And the rent that you owe you must pay by next gale
And believe me, we’ll give you no quarter.

8. Your husband I saw in the town just last night
Drinking and shouting for poor tenants rights
But the month of October we’ll put you to flight
To follow your friends o’er the water.

9. If my husband was drinking what has that to do?
I’d rather he’d drink it than give it to you
Now make up you mind for you won’t get a chew
For wet marshy land is no bargain.

10. We all joined the Land League on last New Years Day
And I think, in my heart, we’re not going astray
While the clergy are with us we’ll carry the sway
Now marshalling all in good order.

11. "Here’s to Father O’Leary the pride of our isle
He’s the boy that can title you ruffians in style
John Dillon and Davitt who rank in their file
Take care you don’t tread on their corns.

12. Then I stepped out from the bush where I lay
And as he passed by me I heard him to say
"I wish to my God I was ten miles away
From the wife of the bold tenant farmer".

13. I shouted "Hurrah" and she shouted "Huroo"
He showed his back and like lightning he flew
Saying "God save the Land League and old Ireland too
Agus fagáimead siúd mar atá sé.

Before the Irish land reformation most farmers only rented their smallholdings from absentee English landlords. They lived in constant fear of eviction since it was often impossible to pay the exorbitant rents from the proceeds of a few acres. The bailiff and rent collector became figures of terror to the small tenant farmer. Therefore any one who had the courage to speak up to them became a hero or a heroine as is the case in this song! - wi th thanks to David Earl.

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