Barrack Street

    Traditional Irish

Audio clip

This example of "Barrack Street" is performed by Mairtin de Cogain of The Fuchsia Band, on their self-title CD, available from the Chivalry Music store.
Please refer to Cantaria's Copyright information

Background notes

Mairtin learned this from the singing of Nic Jones.   Andy Irvine also sings this, but calls it Patrick Street (the song came before the band, but both are named in recognition of the fact that nearly every Irish town has one).  And Andy Irvine sings a song called "The Close Shave" which is an Australian gold-digger re-work of this song.

There are many traditional songs of this ilk where the unwary sailor ends up in an embarrassing situation. This is but one of the catchier, and thus better known ones.

Sailors all come lend an ear, come listen to me song
A trick of late was played on me and I won't detain you long
I come from sea the other day and a girl I chanced to meet
She said, "Me friends have invited me to a dance in Barrack Street."

I said "Me dear fair maid, I cannot dance so well"
"Besides I am for Bandon bound where all me friends do dwell"
"I've been to sea these past two years, I've saved up thirty pounds"
"Me friends will be expecting me this night in Bandon town"

"Well if you cannot dance me love then you will stand a treat"
"Have a glass or two of brandy and a something for to eat"
"At six o'clock this evening I will meet you off the train"
"So don't forget to give a call when you come to town again"

At eight o'clock that evening, the drinking did begin
And when we all had drunk our fill the dancing did begin
Me and me love danced all around to a merry tune
She says, "Me dear, let us retire to a chamber alone"

The dancing being over and to bed we did repair
And there I fell fast asleep, the truth I will declare
Me darling with me thirty pounds gold watch and chain had fled
Left me here poor Jack alone, stark naked in bed

So I looked all around me and there's nothing I could spy
But a woman's shirt and apron all on the bed did lie
I wrung me hands and tore me hair, cried oh what shall I do?
Fare thee well, sweet Bandon town, I'm sure I'll never see you

Well, everything being silent and the hour be twelve o'clock
I put on the shirt and apron and steered for Penrose Wharf
The captain says "Now Jack, I thought you were to Bandon bound"
"Ha! Ye might have got a better suit than that for thirty pound"

I might have got a better suit if I'd had got the chance
I met a girl in Barrack Street she took me to a dance
I danced me own destruction now I'm struck from head to feet
I swear that I will go no more down in Barrack street

So all of you young sailor lads a warning take from me
Beware of all your company when you go out on a spree
And keep clear of Barrack Street or else you'll rue the day
Or in a woman's shirt and apron, oh, they'll bring you out to sea