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Updated 05/24/2013


The Rakes of Mallow

The word 'Rakes' in the title appears to be short for 'rakehell', which itself stems from the Old Icelandic word "reikall," meaning "wandering" or "unsettled." Popularly rakes referred to stylish and spirited young men.

Mallow (Mala, Magh Ealla, and other variations in Irish) is the "Crossroads of Munster" and the administrative capital of north County Cork, in Ireland. The Northern Divisional Offices of Cork County Council are located in the town.  Magh Ealla in Irish means 'Plain of the Swans'. The more recent Irish Mala or even Mála are government inspired re-Gaelicizations of "Mallow."

Mallow developed as a defensive settlement protecting an important ford on the River Blackwater. Mallow developed rapidly in the late 16th century as a plantation town. It has prospered throughout the centuries as a market town due to its rich agricultural hinterland.  The town was the HQ of the infamous North Cork Militia known as North Cork Rifles. The town's RIC barracks was the only one captured nationwide during the War of Independence. In retaliation, several main street premises were subsequently torched by the British Army (and not the Black and Tans as is sometimes reported).

This is a well-known Irish drinking song. The tune was first printed circa 1740.


Beauing, belleing, dancing, drinking,
Breaking windows, cursing, sinking
Ever raking, never thinking,
Live the Rakes of Mallow;
Spending faster than it comes,
Beating waiters bailiffs, duns,
Bacchus' true begotten sons,
Live the Rakes of Mallow.

One time naught but claret drinking,
Then like politicians, thinking
To raise the "sinking funds"when sinking.
Live the Rakes of Mallow.
When at home, with da-da dying,
Still for mellow water crying;
But, where there's good claret plying
Live the Rakes of Mallow.

Racking tenants, stewards teasing,
Swiftly spending, slowly raising,
Wishing to spend all their days in
Raking as at Mallow.
Then to end this raking life,
They get sober, take a wife,
Ever after live in strife,
And wish again for Mallow.