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Updated 05/09/2013

 


Rocky Road to Dublin

Rocky Road to Dublin is a fast-paced 19th century Irish song about a man's experiences as he travels to Liverpool, England from his home in Tuam. The tune has a typical Irish rhythm, classified as a slip jig and is often performed instrumentally.  Slip jig refers to both a style of Irish music, and the Irish dance to music in slip-jig time. The slip jig is in 9/8 time, traditionally with accents on 5 of the 9 beats two pairs of quarter note/eighth note followed by a dotted quarter note.

The words were written by D.K. Gavan, "The Galway Poet", for the English music hall performer "Handsome" Harry Clifton (1824-1872), who popularized the song.  Harry Clifton wrote most all his own words but 'borrowed' most of his tunes from old folk songs. Hearing a man with a concertina play a tune he'd never heard before Harry remarked "I wish I'd written that". "You will Harry, you will" rejoined a friend.


Lyrics by D.K. Gavan

In the merry month of May, From my home I started,
Left the girls of Tuam, Nearly broken hearted,
Saluted father dear, Kissed my darlin' mother,
Drank a pint of beer, My grief and tears to smother,
Then off to reap the corn, And leave where I was born,
I cut a stout blackthorn, To banish ghost and goblin,
In a brand new pair of brogues, I rattled o'er the bogs,
And frightened all the dogs,On the rocky road to Dublin
.

Chorus:
One, two, three, four five,
Hunt the hare and turn her
Down the rocky road
And all the ways to Dublin,
Whack-fol-lol-de-ra.

In Mullingar that night, I rested limbs so weary,
Started by daylight, Next mornin' light and airy,
Took a drop of the pure, To keep my heart from sinkin',
That's an Irishman's cure, Whene'er he's on for drinking.
To see the lasses smile, Laughing all the while,
At my 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
.

Chorus

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,
My bundle it was stole, In a neat locality;
Something crossed my mind, Then I looked behind;
No bundle could I find, Upon my stick a wobblin'.
Enquirin' for the rogue, They said my Connacht brogue,
Wasn't much in vogue, On the rocky road to Dublin
.

Chorus

From there I got away, My spirits never failin'
Landed on the quay As the ship was sailin';
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
.

Chorus

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 my soul," sez I, My shillelagh I let fly;
Some Galway boys were by, Saw I was a hobble in,
Then with a loud hurray, They joined in the affray.
We quickly cleared the way, For the rocky road to Dublin
.

Chorus