LITTLE BEGGARMAN

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
  • LITTLE BEGGARMAN
    The English translation of the Gaelic title “Giolla Rua” (or, Englished, “Gilderoy”), and is
    generally thought to commemorate a real-life rogue and bandit, however, Baring-Gould
    remarks that in Scotland the “Beggar” of the title is also identified with King James V.
    The song was quite common under the Gaelic and the alternate title “The Little
    Beggarman” (or “The Beggarman,” “The Beggar”) throughout the British Isles. The tune
    is printed in Bunting’s 1840 “A Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland” as “An
    Maidrin Ruadh” (The Little Red Fox). The melody is one of the relatively few common
    to fiddlers throughout Scotland and Ireland, and was transferred nearly intact to the
    American fiddle tradition (both North and South) where it has been a favorite of
    bluegrass fiddlers in recent times.
    Well, I am a little beggarman, a begging I have been
    For three score or more in the little isle of green
    All over the Liffey and down to Segue
    I’m known by the name of auld Johnny Dhu
    Of all the trades a going, begging is the best
    When a man gets tired he can sit down and rest
    Singin’ for his supper when there’s nothing else to do
    When I come around the corner with me old rigadoo
    I went to a barn, went down to Currabawn
    Got down on the floor and I slept till the dawn
    Holes in the roof and the rain seeping thru
    Me toes froze together in me little beggar shoes
    Buy a pair of leggings and a collar and a tie
    A nice old lady you will find by and by
    Buy a pair of leggings and I’ll color them blue
    For a foxy old lady I’ll make her too
    I met a little flaxen haired girl one day
    Good morning little flaxen haired girl, I did say
    Good morning little beggarman how do you do
    With your bags and your rags and your auld rigadoo
    Who should I waken but the woman of the house
    With her white spotted apron and her calico blouse
    She began to frighten so I said boo
    Sure, don’t be afraid, it’s only Johnny Dhu
    Over the road with me pack on me back
    Over all the fields with me big heavy sack
  • Over the hills with the moon peeking through
    Singing, skin a ma rink a doodle on me auld rigadoo
    I must be going to bed, it’s getting late at night
    The fire is all out, so out goes the light
    Now you’ve heard the story of the auld rigadoo
    So good night and God be with you, this is auld Johnny Dhu