This song is from the late Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin of Cúil Aodha. He reckoned that the incident happened at a dance in the school in Cúil Aodha and that the Liam O’Connell in question was working for the landlord and therefore not well liked in the area. Crowley, the tailor, composed the song.
There is a long tradition in this area of comic songs in both Irish and English, which depend for their effect on outrageous exaggeration. The description of Liam’s hat follows the traditional pattern. We find that it was worn by many famous people including Louis of France, Maher, Mitchel, Brian Boru, Sarsfield, Emmet, Alfred the Great, Henry the Eighth and others no less famous. There must have been great wearing in the old material – far better than the modern synthetics! (Tomás Ó Canainn)
Oh neighbours come listen your attention I crave
and the truth I will state without falter
I have seen it explicitely put in detail
that the fruits of my case are a caution:
On the twenty ninth instant I turned out gay
A fantastic figure I quickly displayed:
On a dancing expidition I went up to Coolea
and I’ll tell how the same followed after
The hall when I entered the minutes to take
I instantly gazed on the charmers:
They greeted me kindly and fixed me a seat,
Insisting I stay until morning.
The ballroom commendably put in repair,
The audience I witnessed in splendid array:
It was largely attended by country swain
Both dumpy and stately in form.
The pipers and fiddlers in concert did play:
Their strings were prepared and their chanters.
Their instruments tuned to similar air,
And the vocalisation was charming
Some youths they were nimbly jigging away,
Till my hat sure I missed at the end of the game
And you’ll pity my pate in the morning.
Long life to Tom Sullivan he quickly explained –
It’s an ignorant case of disorder.
Whoever is guilty of such a mistake
If he’ll give back the hat he’ll be pardoned.
But the man who invented this critical scheme,
By order of Spenser we’ll send him to jail,
And the laws of the kingdom will little avail
That the villianous rake of a blackguard.
If this hat had a tongue it could tell a long tale:
It was worn by ancient commanders.
‘Twas a notable gem by the prince of each state,
Since Elizabeth ruled over Gráinne.
‘Twas worn by Louis the Frenchman of fame
By Maher and Mitchel, true sons of the Gael,
And by scores of women and men I won’t name:
McQuade had it on in adorning.
Brian wore it a helmet to conquer the Danes:
From then sure its fame is exalted.
It came by descent with that eminent race –
‘Twas in some engagement by Sarsfield.
‘Twas worn by Emmet in the year ninety-eight;
‘Twas worn in England by Alfred the Great;
‘Twas worn by William, the son of King James
And by Henry the Eighth as an armour.
Now my case it won’t end till I make a long trail
Over hills and low dales and each corner:
Through towns and through cities through islands and glades
Each inlet and each harbour.
I’ll travel from Dingle and then to Kenmare,
Beare Island and Whiddy and Bantry Bay,
The bare rocks of Skellig won’t set me astray,
For I’m quite well aware of its harbour.
I roamed to Valentia, the banks of the Maine,
Muckross, Loch Leane and Killarney,
Where the countries are limited up at Trá Réidh
And I straight made my way to Drenalumna.
Down to the Mills and to the cascade
The bowers of the Beochaill and Mahoney’s Lane.
From that to the village, a suspicious place,
And we drank a few trates there at Arthur’s.
In the courses I travelled my vigilance failed,
So I took a walk eastwards towards Blarney:
Down to Cork City and on to Kinsale
Wherein I took earnest precaution.
A discoursable hag in the extremes of old age,
Endowed with a witchcraft, she whispered me there:
Go back where you came from – ’tis sunk in the lake
Agus fágfaimis siúd mar atá sé.