Whiskey in the jar
Whiskey in the jar is a famous Irish traditional that has its roots in the 17th century. The exact origin is unknown, but a number of lines and the plot resemble those of a contemporary broadside ballad "Patrick Flemming".
Patrick Flemming was an Irish highwayman, who was hanged nearby Dublin in 1650. A highwayman was a thief and brigand who preyed on travellers. This type of outlaw usually travelled and robbed by horse. The chief place of Flemming was about the Blog of Allen, where he attacked almost everybody who passed that way. He told his victims he was the absolute lord of that road and that he had all rights to demand contributions of those who travelled his road and to punish with death those who refused to pay. The accounts of his exploits are more lurid than what we can see in the movies now.
In Ireland and Scotland the local highwaymen were admired by the local people and they were regarded as national patriots as they robbed English landlords. They were often referred to as "Knights of the road". They were social supperior to other robbers and became symbol of bravery, courage and strenght as they stood eye to eye with their victims ans they were not afraid to fight for what they wanted. Such feelings were the inspiration for the rollicking ballad "Whiskey in the jar".
The "rob from the rich philosophy" caught on very quickly and spread to other countries as well. They appeared in America and Australia and later also in Greece, Hungaria, Slovakia, ... The occupation of the highwaymen began to fizzle out during the 19th century, with the beginning of mounted police patrols. Where the highwaymen could once rely on the speed and agility of their horses, police on horseback could freely pursue them with the same speed and agility. And not to forget, the punishment for the captured highwaymen was death by hanging.
At some point, the song "Whisky in the jar" came to the United States and was favourite in Colonial America, because of its irrelevant attitude towards British officials. As the songcollector Colm O Lochlainn included the song in his book "Irish Street Ballads", he wrote down the lyrics from memory as he had learned them from his mother, who herself had learned it in 1870 from a man called Buckley, who came from Cork.
O Lochlainn called the song "There is whisky in the jar". Under this title the song has been used by Irish bands, such as The Dubliners. It also has been taken in a rock 'n roll direction, first by Thin Lizzy, later by Grateful Dead and later by Metallica.
Whiskey in the jar
As I was a goin' over the far famed Kerry mountains
I met with captain Farrell and his money he was counting
I first produced my pistol and I then produced my rapier
Saying "Stand and deliver" for he were a bold deceiver
Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Wack fall the daddy-o, wack fall the daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar
I counted out his money and it made a pretty penny
I put it in me pocket and I took it home to Jenny
She sighed and she swore that she never would deceive me
But the devil take the women for they never can be easy
I went up to my chamber, all for to take a slumber
I dreamt of gold and jewels and for sure 't was no wonder
But Jenny drew me charges and she filled them up with water
Then sent for captain Farrell to be ready for the slaughter
'twas early in the morning, just before I rose to travel
Up comes a band of footmen and likewise captain Farrell
I first produced me pistol for she stole away me rapier
I couldn't shoot the water, so a prisoner I was taken
Now there's some take delight in the carriages a rolling
and others take delight in the hurling and the bowling
but I take delight in the juice of the barley
and courting pretty fair maids in the morning bright and early
If anyone can aid me 't is my brother in the army
If I can find his station in Cork or in Killarney
And if he'll go with me, we'll go rovin' in Kilkenny
And I'm sure he'll treat me better than my own a-sporting Jenny