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The Humours of Whiskey / Paddy's Panacea

[ Roud 3079 ; Ballad Index RcPadPan ; trad.]

Tom Lenihan sang Humours of Whiskey (Paddy's Panacea) to Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie at home in Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare, on 26 September 1977. This recording was released in the following year as the title track of his Topic album of songs traditional in West Clare, Paddy's Panacea. It was also included in 1998 on the Topic anthology of the joys and curse of drink, They Ordered Their Pints of Beer and Bottles of Sherry (The Voice of the People Volume 13).

Andy M. Stewart sang The Humours of Whiskey in 1987 on his and Manus Lunny's Green Linnet album Dublin Lady. He noted:

I first heart this hilarious song one memorable evening on the Isle of Skye, when members of Silly Wizard and Wild Geese, an Irish band, were having a great Ceilidh. It was sung by Peadar O hUllaigh, a fine singer now living in Kerry. The song is in praise of the miraculous properties of Poitín, or illicitly-distilled whiskey, and advises regular and generous dosage to obtain the best results. Sage advice.

Lyrics

Andy M. Stewart sings The Humours of Whiskey

Let your quacks and newspapers be cuttin’ their capers
And curing the Vapours, the Scratch and the gout.
With their medical potions, their pills and their lotions
upholdin’ their notions, they’re mighty put out.
Who can tell the true physic of all things patetic
and pitch to the Devil Camp, Colic and Spleen?
Oh, you'll find them I think if you take a big drink
with your mouth to the brink of a jug of Poitín.

Chorus:
Then stick to the Cratur the best thing in nature
For sinkin’ your sorrows and raisin’ your joys.
Oh what botheration no bolt to the nation
Can bring consolation like Poitín, my boys.

No liquid cosmetic to lovers athletic
Or ladies pathetic can bring such a bloom
As the sweet, by the powers to the garden of flowers
Never brought its own bowers such a darlin’ perfume.
And this liquid’s so rare if you’re willin’ to share
To be takin’ your hair when it's grizzled and dead.
Oh The Sod has the merit to yield the true spirit
So strong it’ll shake all the hairs from your head.

Chorus:
Then stick to the Cratur the best thing in nature
For sinkin’ your sorrows and raisin’ your joys.
Oh since it's perfection no doctors direction
Can cleanse the complexion like Poitín, my boys.

As a child in my cradle the nurse from her ladle
Was swillin’ her mouth with a notion of “Pep”
When a drop from her bottle fell into my throttle
I capered and scrambled right out of her lap.
On the floor I lay crawlin’ and screamin’ and bawlin’
Till Father and Mother soon came to the fore,
Conceived I lay dying all wailing and crying
They found I was only a-cryin’ for more.

Chorus:
Then stick to the Cratur the best thing in nature
For sinkin’ your sorrows and raisin’ your joys.
Oh Lord how I’d chuckle if babes in their truckle
Could only be suckled on Poitín, my boys.

Through youthful digressions and times of depression
My childhood impression still clung to my mind.
In school and in college the basis of knowledge
I never could grasp till with whiskey combined.
Now as older I’m growin’, time’s ever bestowin’
On Erin’s potation a flavour so fine,
And how e’re they may lecture on Jove and his nectar
Itself is the only true liquid divine.

Chorus:
Then stick to the Cratur the best thing in nature
For sinkin’ your sorrows and raisin’ your joys.
Oh Lord it'ss the right thing for courtin’ and fightin’
There’s nowt so exciting as Poitín, my boys.

Come guess me this riddle, what beats pipes and fiddle,
What’s hotter than mustard and wilder than cream?
What best wets your whistle, what’s clearer than crystal,
Smoother than honey and stronger than steam?
What’ll make the dumb talk, what'll make the lame walk,
The elixir of life and philosopher’s stone?
And what helped Mr. Brunell to dig the Thames Tunnel?
Wasn’t it Poitín, my boys from old Innishowen.

Chorus:
Then stick to the Cratur the best thing in nature
For sinkin’ your sorrows and raisin’ your joys.
Oh Lord knows I wonder if lightning and thunder
Was made from the plunder of Poitín, my boys!