JOHNNY I HARDLY KNEW YOU

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
  • Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye” is a popular Irish traditional anti-war and anti-recruiting song.
    It is the basis for the American popular song When Johnny Comes Marching Home“, as
    Patrick Gilmore announced to the public that he had taken the tune for “When Johnny
    Comes Marching Home” from “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye” in 1883. Although no
    published version is known to pre-date the 1863 “When Johnny Comes Marching Home
    Again”, the Irish song is generally dated to the early 19th century, when Irish troops
    served the British East India Company. The original refers to the soldiers from Athy,
    County Kildare that fought in “Sulloon” (Ceylon – now Sri Lanka) for the East India
    Company. It has become a definitive anti-war song.
    While goin’ the road to sweet Athy, hurroo, hurroo
    While goin’ the road to sweet Athy, hurroo, hurroo
    While goin’ the road to sweet Athy,
    A stick in me hand and a drop in me eye,
    A doleful damsel I heard cry,
    Johnny I hardly knew ye.
    (Chorus):
    With your guns and drums and drums and guns, hurroo, hurroo
    With your guns and drums and drums and guns, hurroo, hurroo
    With your guns and drums and drums and guns,
    The enemy nearly slew ye
    Oh my darling dear, Ye look so queer
    Johnny I hardly knew ye.
    Where are the eyes that looked so mild, hurroo, hurroo
    Where are the eyes that looked so mild, hurroo, hurroo
    Where are the eyes that looked so mild,
    When my poor heart you first beguiled
    Why did ye skidaddle from me and the child
    Oh Johnny, I hardly knew ye
    (Chorus)
    Where are the legs with which you run, hurroo, hurroo
    Where are the legs with which you run, hurroo, hurroo
    Where are the legs with which you run,
    When first you went for to carry a gun
    Indeed your dancing days are done
    Oh Johnny, I hardly knew ye
    (Chorus)
    Ye haven’t an arm, ye haven’t a leg, hurroo, hurroo
    Ye haven’t an arm, ye haven’t a leg, hurroo, hurroo
    Ye haven’t an arm and ye haven’t a leg,
    Ye’re an armless, boneless, chickenless egg
    Ye’ll have to put with a bowl out to beg
    Oh Johnny I hardly knew ye
    (Chorus)
    I’m happy for to see ye home, hurroo, hurroo
    I’m happy for to see ye home, hurroo, hurroo
    I’m happy for to see ye home,
    All from the island of Saloam;
    So low in flesh, so high in bone
    Oh Johnny I hardly knew ye
    With your guns and drums and drums and guns, hurroo, hurroo
    With your guns and drums and drums and guns, hurroo, hurroo
    With your guns and drums and drums and guns,
    The enemy never slew ye
    Oh my darling dear, Ye look so queer
    Johnny I hardly knew ye.