Breedloves's Folk Songs


    “Finnegan’s Wake” is a ballad that arose in the 1850s in the musichall tradition of
    comical Irish songs.
    It is famous for being the basis of James Joyce‘s masterwork, Finnegans Wake, where the
    comic resurrection becomes symbolic of a universal cycle of life. Whiskey, which
    brought both Finnegan’s fall and his resurrection, is derived from Irish uisce beatha
    meaning “water of life.” So too, the word “wake” is both of a passing and of a new rising.
    Joyce removed the apostrophe in the title to assert an active process in which
    multiplicities of “Finnegans,” that is, all of us, wake, i.e., arise after falling. It also
    featured as the climax of the primary storyline in Philip José Farmer‘s award-winning
    novella, Riders of the Purple Wage. The song is a staple of the Irish folk-music group,
    The Dubliners, who have played it on many occasions and included it on several albums.
    Tim Finnegan lived in Walkin Street
    A gentle Irishman, mighty odd;
    He’d a beautiful brogue so rich and sweet
    And to rise in the world he carried a hod.
    Now, Tim had a bit of the tipplin’ way
    With a love for the liquor poor Tim was born
    And to help him on with his work each day
    He’d a “drop of the Craythur every morn.
    Whack fol the dah O, dance to your partner
    Welt the floor, your trotters shake;
    Wasn’t it the truth I told you
    Lots of fun at Finnegan’s wake!
    One mornin’ Tim was rather full
    His head felt heavy which made him shake;
    He fell from the ladder and broke his skull
    And they carried him home his corpse to wake.
    They rolled him up in a nice clean sheet
    And laid him out upon the bed,
    A gallon of whiskey at his feet
    And a barrel of porter at his head.
    His friends assembled at the wake
    And Mrs. Finnegan called for lunch,
    First she brought in tay and a cake
     Biddy O’Brien began to cry
    “Such a nice clean corpse, did you ever see?
    “O Tim, mavourneen, why did you die?”
    “Arragh, hold your gob” cried Paddy McGee!
    Then Maggie O’Connor took up the job
    “O Biddy,” says she, “You’re wrong, I’m sure”
    Biddy she gave her a belt in the gob
    And left her sprawlin’ on the floor.
    And then the war did soon engage
    ‘Twas woman to woman and man to man,
    Shillelagh law was all the rage
    And a row and a ruction soon began.
    Then Mickey Maloney ducked his head
    When a noggin of whiskey flew at him,
    It missed, and falling on the bed
    The liquor scattered over Tim!
    Tim revives! See how he rises!
    Tim he rises from the dead,
    Says, “Whirl your whiskey around like blazes”
    “Thanum an Dhul
    , do you think I’m dead?”

    Then pipes, tobacco’ and whiskey punch.

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