Well Versed – April 1996

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How much do street singers and buskers earn on the streets? How do they do at Christmas time? Are people generous? A query on the matter produced the following – unique – report in ballad style which we are informed can even be sung to the air of “The Rocks of Bawn”:

Come all ye loyal heroes and listen on to me

If you sing on the streets of Athenry do you know what your pay will be?

For you must throw your cap down low and sing your ballads high

To test the Christmas spirit on the streets of Athenry.

Oh Athenry I pick you, you aged and castles town

Where ballad-begging men have sung, since Cromwell burned down.

Though Northern raiders tossed your wall and blazed you to the sky.


Still do I come to sing (and beg) the Streets of Athenry.

How are ballads worth today, if well and truly sung?

Can a ballad begging wandering man live on the coinage flung –

Into the cap that nears his toes, and trips the passers by?

On the 10th day of December on the streets of Athenry

My shoes they are all wom, my battered coat is thin

I have the curate’s caubeen down in place of the beggars tin.


I hold a battered plastic bag with sweet damn all for

To test the Christmas spirit on the streets of Athenry.

My curse attend the traffic that roars against my song

And my curse attend the three legged dog who foully did me wrong.

And my curse attend the cold north wind that chills toe me and eye

As I sing “Beside the Anner” on the streets of Athenry.


But I roar out “Kevin Barry” and I sing “The Foggy Dew”,

“Knockanure”, “Amerikay” and “Bould Matt Hyland” too.

A good strong blast of “Danny Boy” goes ringing to the sky and sticks

them to the pavement of the streets of Athenry.

Here’s a blessing on the small dark boy who brought the first 10p.

May my blessing fall on the dapper man who gave not one ten but three.


And the little nuns whose copper mites dropped in as they passed by

Are angels out of heaven on the streets of Athenry‘?

“Beside the Anner” eams the most, the makings if £1

When I finish it the second time, the coins scatter round.

“My Lagan Love” wins n’er a bob though “Noreen Bawn” scores high

And the curates cap is soon well filled on the streets of Athenry.


But God’s right hand to the man Ruane who offered drink in bar

And brought me out a bottle of stout when I wouldn’t walk so far.

“I love the good old songs” says he “sing on you decent boy”.

And was he that left me 20p on the streets of Athenry.

In one hour £2.30, one porter, tired jaws,

The money that Fr. Flannery to aid some worthy cause

For the old town has a heart of gold, may its goodness never die.

There’s Christmas charity galore on the streets of Athenry.

Editors Note: These verses published in a local paper some years ago were kindly brought to our notice by Joe Walsh.

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About this record

Written by Anonymous

Published here 03 Nov 2022 and originally published 1996

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