Limerick Rake, The
DESCRIPTION: Singer brags of being a rake; his fancy is young women. Rich men die "among nettles and stones"; he wants to be like wise Solomon with 1000 wives who will cry at his wake. when he goes to the tavern, he's welcomed "where Bacchus is sportin' with Venus."
AUTHOR: words: Unknown; music: attributed to Robert Thompson
EARLIEST DATE: 1939 (OLochlainn-IrishStreetBallads); c.1867 (broadside, Bodleian 2806 b.9(71))
LONG DESCRIPTION: Singer brags of being a rake; raised properly by his father and well educated, his main fancy is young women, whom he lists in great number -- he's in love with one from Arda. The money he spends on the girls causes his parents much chagrin. He says he's not inclined for riches; Rich men die "among nettles and stones" but he wants to be like wise Solomon with 1000 wives who, with their children, will cry at his wake. He will buy a cow that will never run dry, for riches won't last past the grave; when he goes to the tavern, he's welcomed "where Bacchus is sportin' with Venus." Macaronic refrain: "Agus fagaim id siud mar ata se"
KEYWORDS: courting sex bragging beauty money death Ireland foreignlanguage animal father rake humorous
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (3 citations):
OLochlainn-IrishStreetBallads 42, "The Limerick Rake" (1 text, 1 tune)
Behan-IrelandSings, #42, "The Limerick Rake" (1 text, 1 tune, modified)
Margaret Barry & Michael Gorman, "The Limerick Rake" (on Barry-Gorman1)
Bodleian, 2806 b.9(71), "The Limrick Rake," P. Brereton (Dublin), c.1867; also Harding B 26(354), "The Limerick Rake"
cf. "Vive la Compagnie" (on Bacchus & Venus line, otherwise unrelated)
I'm Champion at Keeping 'Em Rolling (MacColl-ShuttleAndCage-IndustrialFolkBallads, p. 7; Reginald Nettel, _Seven Centuries of Popular Song_, Phoenix House, 1956, p. 233; Ewan MacColl, _Journeyman: An Autobiography_, re-edited and with an introduction by Peggy Seeger, 1990; revised edition, Manchester University Press, 2009, p. 344)
NOTES [256 words]: I believe the tune was used by Ewan MacColl for his song, "Champion at Keepin' 'em Rollin'"; Barry states that it was written by her grandfather, Robert Thompson, a famous piper. The Gaelic refrain translates as, "Leave it as it is," or, "Leave well enough alone." - PJS
The tune in fact has been much-used; recently, Ian Robb turned it into "Champion at Driving 'Em Crazy." The Digital Tradition, in fact, lists seven songs with this tune, though only one other, "The Pensioner's Complaint," has any any sort of traditional status. And it's listed as having two tunes, so it's not clear whether that affects Thompson's claim to authorship. We do note that he was unlikely to have been of "composing age" at the time the first broadsides were published.
MacColl in his autobiography, Journeyman: An Autobiography, re-edited and with an introduction by Peggy Seeger, 1990; revised edition, Manchester University Press, 2009, p. 344, says of his parody, "I'd spent a fair amount of time in transport caf's during my hitch-hiking days and my stint as an apprentice motor-mechanic had made me familiar with long-distance lorry-drivers talk. I had made up both songs for a BBC feature programme called Lorry Harbour, broadcast sometime between 1947 and 1949. During the next three or four years it became a popular piece among truck grivers and by 1960 it had gathered unto itself half a dozen new verses, mostly obscene." This would seem to imply that it has become traditional, but I have no proof of this other than MacColl's claims. - RBW
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