MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Cow with the Piper
Aiden Sullivan NFLD 1 Tape 12 Track 3
Calvert Audio:
Ballad / comic

In the year ninety-eight when our troubles were great
Was treason to be a Milesian
But a black-whiskered set we will never forget
Though the history tells us we're Hessian

Those troublesome times it was a great crime
And murder sure never was riper
At the side of Glenshe not an acre from me
There lived one Denny Baron a piper

Neither wedding nor wake 'twould be worth a shake
For Denny was not first invited
For emptying the kegs and squeezing the bags
Astonished as well as delighted

One evening in June as Den was going home
Just after the fair at Naggin
Oh what should he see from the branch of a tree
But a corpse of a Hessian there hanging

Said Denny, "Those rogues of boots have no brogues."
And the boots and they laid such a griper
He pulled them with such might that the boots were so tight that
The legs and boots came way with the piper

Then Denny did run for afraid of being hung
Till he came to Tim Kennedy's cabin
Oh says Tim from within, "Oh I can't let you in
You'll be shot if you're caught there a-rappin'."

He went to the shed where the cow was in bed
With a whisk he began then to wipe her
And they lay down together on the seven foot feather
And the cow fell to hugging the piper

Oh Denny did yawn and the day did dawn
And he peeled off the boots of the Hessian
And the legs by the law he left there on the straw
And he gave them leg bare for his mission

When breakfast was done Tim sent out a young son
To make Denny jump like a lamplighter
When the legs there he saw he run like a jackdaw
"Oh daddy the cow ate the piper."

Mrs. Kennedy bawled the neighbours were called
They began for the Humbug and jiber
To the churchyard Tim walked with the legs in the box
And the cow will be hung with the piper


Sources: Alternative titles are "Cow Ate the Piper" and "Denny Byrne, the piper"; Henry 29; Roud 8147.

History: Events in the narrative are usually dated to the Irish rebellions of 1798.

Text notes: Denny Byrne, a piper, takes boots from a dead soldier but the legs come off as well. He sleeps in a cowshed. The farmer finds the legs the next morning and thinks that the cow ate the piper.

Tune notes: With 8-line stanzas typical of many comic songs, this tune is in 6/8 metre and a major key. The phrase repetition pattern is abacdeab.

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