We are happy to offer some special notes on all of the songs on the CD. Some of the text will be identical to that found on the CD, while there are special comments and further information added--some of which was not able to be printed due to size constraints. We hope you will enjoy this companion to your CD purchase. There are additional external links to other sites offering lyrics and guitar chords and tabulature for your convenience.
The Little Beggarman is a well-known Irish ballad that one songbook proclaims "was learned by Colm O'Lochlainn in 1925 from a one-legged accordion player in Harcourt Street." Poor old Johnny Dhu is a fellow who toils mightily at not working at all.
This is one song that I never heard anyone sing before doing it ourselves. When playing with Julia Hays, she noted the tune was very similar to Red-Haired Boy, although it was a jig. I learned the song in D rather than Red-Haired Boy's A because it was impossible to sing it there, but we still do the two tunes together.
The song gives way to the popular fiddle tune,
Red Haired Boy. Bridget and Henry have a great
time matching speed in fiddling and footwork at the end
of this tune. Listen for Bridget clicking her heels in
mid-air twice near the end. The floor had to be
specially built at the studio to duplicate stage sounds.
While there are other similarly named songs,
such as "Hi for the Beggarman", they are completely different songs. I recently heard a U. S. band doing this as a reel--bluegrass style.
The Little Beggarman/
Oh, I am a little beggarman and begging I have been
For three score years in this little isle of green
I am known along the Liffey from the Basin to the Zoo
And everybody calls me by the name of Johnny Dhu.
Of all the trades agoin' sure the beggin is the best
For when I man is tired he can sit him down and rest
He can beg for his dinner he has nothing else to do
But to slip around the corner with his ould rigadoo.
I slept in a barn one night in Currabawn,
A shocking wet night it was but I slept until the dawn
There were holes in the roof and the raindrops a'pourin' 'thru
And the rats and the cats were all playing tinkaboo
Who did I waken but the woman of the house
With her white-spotted apron and her fine gingham blouse
She began to get excited and all I said was Boo!
Sure and don't be afraid at all, tis only Johnny Dhu
I met a little girl when a walkin out one day
Good morrow, little flaxen-haired girl I did say
Good morrow, little beggarman, and how do you do
With your rags and your tags and your ould rigadoo
I'll buy a pair of leggins and a collar and a tie
And a nice young lady I'll go courtin' by and bye
I'll buy a pair of goggles and I'll color them with blue
And an ould-fashioned lady I will make her too
So all along the high road with my bag upon my back
Over the fields with my bulgin' heavy sack
With holes in me shoes and me toes a peepin through
Singin' skill-a-mack-a-doodle with my auld rigadoo
Oh, I must be goin'to bed for it's getting late at nite
The fire's all raked and now 'tis out the light
For now you've heard my story of my ould rigadoo
So good-bye and God be with you, from ould Johnny Dhu.