Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill

DESCRIPTION: Describing, in extravagant terms, the hard life of the (Irish) railroad workers -- subjected to long hours, blast, short pay (and that docked for any or no reason). And always the order comes again, "Drill, ye tarriers, drill!"
AUTHOR: words: Thomas Casey/music: Charles Connolly
EARLIEST DATE: 1888 (play, "A Brass Monkey"; sheet music published by Frank Harding of New York, seemingly without attribution)
KEYWORDS: work railroading hardtimes talltale
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (12 citations):
Morris, #101, "Drill, Ye Terriers" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen-LSRail, pp. 553-559, "Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Geller-Famous, pp. 14-18, "Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill!" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 217, "Drill, Ye Tarriers" (1 text, 1 tune)
Arnett, pp. 112-113, "Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-RailFolklr, p. 442, "Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greenway-AFP, pp. 43-44, "The Tarriers' Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Darling-NAS, pp. 329, "Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill" (1 text)
Fireside, p. 138, "Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill!" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 130, "Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill" (1 text)
DT, DRILLTAR*
ADDITIONAL: _Sing Out_ magazine, Volume 30, #3 (1984), pp, 50-51, "Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill" (1 text, 1 tune, a Canadian version reportedly collected by Tim Rogers though no informant is listed)

Roud #4401 and 4436
RECORDINGS:
George J. Gaskin, "Drill Ye Tarriers Drill" (Berliner 064-1/Berliner [Canada] 4, 1899)
Chubby Parker, "Drill Ye Tarriers Drill" (Conqueror 7893, 1931)
Dan W. Quinn, "Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill" (Victor 3155, c. 1901)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Drill Ye Heroes, Drill!" (tune)
NOTES: This is believed to have originated with an Irish comedy team, (Thomas F.) Casey and (Charles) Connelly, in the 1880s. It has gone almost verbatim into oral tradition; variations in the text are very few.
Very nearly the only exception to this uniformity is the Chubby Parker recording, which is longer than the popular version, and a genuine song about railroad life rather than a humorous item. Cohen, based on this and a few hints in nineteenth century writings, wonders if there may not have been some ancestral text in existence before 1888. If so, that version has been almost completely displaced by the Casey version.
I seem to recall, in my youth, a bunch of us understanding "tarriers" as "terriers," with resulting very odd notions of what the song was about. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.0
File: LoF217

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 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.