When the Old Dun Cow Caught Fire
DESCRIPTION: Friends are in a pub "playing dominoes" when it is declared that the pub is on fire. Several serious imbibers, rather than flee, head for the cellar to drink the unprotected spirits. Eventually the firemen break into the cellar -- and join the fun
AUTHOR: Harry Wincott
EARLIEST DATE: 1893 (sheet music)
KEYWORDS: drink humorous fire
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (2 citations):
ADDITIONAL: _Sing Out_ magazine, Volume 31, #2 (1985), pp, 40-42, "When the Old Dun Cow Caught Fire" (1 text, 1 tune)
NOTES: Mostly a popular song, of course -- but the Copper Family sang it, and what more could anyone want? Also, the idea was quite popular; there is a New Zealand song, "The Day the Pub Burned Down" (DT DAYPBBRN) on the same idea -- only more extreme, because in it, the fire brigade uses the booze to fight the fire, and are attacked by the townsfolk for doing so. "Pub Burned Down" is clearly a composed song (inspired, I suspect, by the "Dun Cow"), but it has perhaps taken on a life of its own, since the DT version has substantial variants from the version I've heard.
I do not know if it is significant that the pub is named the "Dun Cow," but it is interesting to note that one of the monsters fought by Guy of Warwick was said to be a dun cow of enormous size (see Roy Palmer, The Folklore of Warwickshire, Rowman and Littlefield, 1976, p. 133). Palmer also notes a Dun Cow Inn in Dunchurch, first referred to in 1655 and still in business at the time he wrote. There is also a famous Irish miscellany, "The Book of the Dun Cow," but I doubt that that would be known in England. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.5
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.