MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Kelly and the Ghost
Ralph Pennell NFLD 2 Tape 5A Track 7
Trepassey Audio:
Comic Song

LEACH: All right, now she's all right.

One night as poor Kelly about three parts loaded
Was steering for home about twelve in the night
At the end of his lane he sat down to remain
And a figure appeared and was dressed all in white

Good night sir says Kelly but got back no answer
The figure remained just as still as a post
Saying you look like a boxer whose ready for fighting
But never an answer got he from the ghost

He hauled off his coat and he turned up his shirtsleeves
Come on now my bruiser he called out quite clear
When the figure in white knocked him back in the gutter
With a left-handed cut on the back of his ear

Hold on says poor Kelly half-stunned from the tumble
And the ghost right and left his two flippers let fly
Now stop if you please l am down on your knees
Will you call the fight off while l look for my eye

Then the figure drew up and the battle was over
And Kelly half-stunned put his cap on his head
And he crawled to the door and did humbly implore
For his wife to assist him upstairs to the bed

He then told his wife how he fought with a stranger
As strong as a bull and as stiff as a post
His wife told poor Kelly that's wonderful dangerous
Saying Kelly my man you were fighting a ghost

Twas his wife dressed in white to keep Kelly from drinking
That gave him the beatin' half left him for dead
But he got such a fright he won't stir after night
But right after his supper goes straight up to bed


Sources : Burke and Murphy, 1901 ("How Kelly Fought the Ghost"); Greenleaf, 1968: 160 ("Maurice Kelly"); Leach, 1965: 298; Roud #16894

From the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) Song Index and Song Annotation Collection: Also known as "Kelly and the Bruiser" Herbert, Halpert and John Widdowson MUNFLA 66-24; Clarke, Evelyn MUNFLA 68-2; O'Brien, Andrew MUNFLA 68-16; Genge, Elizabeth MUNFLA 69-15; Huges, Claude MUNFLA 78-313; Goldstein, Kenneth and Eric West and Marilyn Wilcott MUNFLA 79-1

History : Newfoundland comic ballad.

Text: Kelly fights with a ghost dressed in white one night while drunk.   He gets such a fright that he never touches the drink again.   He never finds out that it was his wife, who disguised herself as the ghost and beat him, in order to scared him off drinking.

Tune:   This melody resembles the tune of the Newfoundland folksong, "The Squid Jiggin' Ground."  It is a triple metre tune in ABAC form.   There are leaps of an octave at the beginning of phrases one and three. The scale is major.

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