Jolly Ploughboy, The (The Merry Plowboy, The Scarlet and the Blue)

DESCRIPTION: "I (am/was) a jolly ploughboy and I plowed the fields all day," but one day the singer has had enough and sets out to join the (British Army/IRA/other). He will not miss the farm. He will miss his girl but hopes to marry her. The army will conquer or die
AUTHOR: supposedly John J. Blockley (source: Dallas-TheCruelWars-100SoldiersSongs)
EARLIEST DATE: 1965 (recording by the Watersons)
KEYWORDS: farming soldier rambling love separation IRA
FOUND IN: Britain(England(North)) Ireland
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Gardham-EastRidingSongster 32, pp. 40-41, "The Jolly Ploughboy" (1 text, 1 tune)
Dallas-TheCruelWars-100SoldiersSongs, pp. 16-18, "The Merry Ploughboy" (1 text, 1 tune)
Behan-IrelandSings, #51, "The Merry Ploughboy" (1 text, 1 tune, heavily modified)
DT, JOLLPLO3 DUBLNGRN DBLGRN (the Behan version)

Roud #163
The Warwickshire R. H. A.
Off to Dublin in the Green (localized version claimed by Dominic Behan)
NOTES [182 words]: Gardham-EastRidingSongster cited A. L. Lloyd to the effect that this was written by John J. Blockley in the 1870s and popularized by Harrigan and Hart. Dallas-TheCruelWars-100SoldiersSongs also mentions the attribution to Blockley.
However, Steve Gardham has since concluded, "I no longer think this information bears any weight. I have spent 40 years trying to find the origins of this song. Not a whisper. I'm pretty certain it has no connection with Blockley and although Harrigan and Hart sang a different song with a similar title 'The Blue and the Grey' I don't believe it connects with our song here. There are several songs with the title 'The Scarlet and the Blue' but alas none of them turn out to be our song here. I'm afraid it seems to be yet another Bertism!" (i.e. one of A. L. Lloyd's peculiar ideas).
Parts of this are easily verified. The Harrigan/Hart song "The Blue and the Gray" is in Finson-Edward-Harrigan-David-Braham, vol. I, #7, pp. 26-29. It is emphatically not this song; it begins "America, my jewel, We sing most cheerfully, Your troubles now are ended...." - RBW
Last updated in version 6.3
File: Beha051

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 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.