Brew Tunes – Irish Drinking Songs

McSorley’s Old Ale House in New York City

The ecstatic butchering of Bon Jovi and Journey gets its roots in Ireland’s pubs. Inebriated singing goes back farther than that, but the joie de vivre of a night of drinking and singing is a direct descendant of Ireland’s love of the grog.

I scoured the internet for my favorite examples of this Celtic tradition. I was struck by the humor, wit, lyricism, and poignancy of these songs that were never even meant to leave the ale house. Who wrote these things and, more importantly: why put the effort into works that no one but your drinking buddies will *barely* hear? Drinking songs are the sandcastles amidst the ocean of a drunken night.

Here are some of my favorite excerpts:

And it’s all for me grog,
Me jolly, jolly grog,
All for me beer and tobacco
For I spent all me tin
On the lassies drinking gin

– “All For Me Grog”

What’ll we do with a drunken sailor,
Earl-aye in the morning?
Put him in bed with the captain’s daughter.
Way hay and up she rises (x3)
Earl-aye in the morning

– “What’ll We Do With A Drunken Sailor”

What more diversion can a man desire?
Than to sit him down by an alehouse fire
Upon his knee a pretty wench
And upon the table a jug of punch.

And if I get drunk, well, me money’s me own
And them don’t like me they can leave me alone
I’ll chune me fiddle and I’ll rosin me bow
And I’ll be welcome wherever I go.

– “Jug of Punch”


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