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The Rambling Siúler

[ Roud 7972 ; DT RMBSIUL ; Mudcat 134274 ; trad.]

Planxty sang The Rambling Siúler on their 1979 album After the Break. Several Planxty live recordings from between 1979 and 1982 were released in 2016 on their DVD Between the Jigs and the Reels and in 2018 on their CD One Night in Bremen. They commented in their original album’s notes:

The Rambling Siúler was collected in the North of Ireland by Sam Henry and is obviously Scottish in origin. Once again a fatal fascination for beggars brings ultimate reward to the farmer’s daughter (how did they do it?) An unlikely tale, this, but we like the colonel-come-beggar’s cunning in the third verse where he feigns interest in the serving girl, presumably to convince the farmer that he wasn’t going to try and get off with his daughter.

Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer sang The Rambling Siúler in 2013 on their CD Red House. They noted:

This song was made famous by Planxty back in 1978 (on their After the Break album for those who are interested). The words are of course much older—from Dublin in the early 19th century. We have changed the melody for the song, but left the better known tune for the instrumental breaks.

A happy song about courtship and dressing up; everyone lives happily ever after—except perhaps the General who has a significantly lighter purse by the end.


Planxty sing The Rambling Siúler

Oh the highland lads are come to town and landed in headquarters,
The colonel fell for a pretty little girl, a farmer’s only daughter.
The general bet five thousand pounds the colonel wouldn’t dress up in a beggar’s gown,
And she’ll travel the world go round and round, would she go with the rambling siúler?

Oh the colonel started out next day dressed in a beggar’s clothing,
It wasn’t long till he found his way to the farmer’s lowly dwelling.
“Oh farmer, shelter me for the night, I’ll sleep in your barn until daylight.
Take pity on a beggar’s awful plight, God help all rambling siúlers.”

Oh the farmer says, “The night is wet, you can come to the kitchen fire.”
The colonel says to the serving maid, “It’s you I do admire.
Will you leave them all and come with me, leave them all a gra mo chroi?
What a lusty beggar you would be, away with the rambling siúler.”

And the farmer and his servants all they fell into loud laughter
When who came tripping down the stairs but the farmer’s only daughter.
She’d two blue eyes like the morning skies, soon as the beggar he did her spy
She fairly caught his rambling eye, “She’ll be mine,” said the rambling siúler.

And the farmer and his servants all they went out to the byre,
He put his arm around her waist as they sat by the kitchen fire.
He put his hand upon her knee, unto her gave kisses three,
Says she, “How dare you make so free and it’s you but a rambling siúler?”

When supper it was over-o they made his bed in the barn,
Between two sacks and a winnow cloth for fear that he’d do harm.
But at twelve o’clock that very night she came to the barn, she was dressed in white.
The beggar rose in great delight, “She’s mine,” says the rambling siúler.

And he threw off his beggar’s clothes, he threw them against the wall-o,
He stood the bravest gentleman that was amongst them all-o.
“Will you look at my locks of golden hair under the sooty old hat I wear.
I’m a colonel bold, I do declare, and it’s not but a rambling siúler.

“And I wouldn’t for one hundred pounds that you and I would be found here,
Will you travel around the whole night long and go with the rambling siúler?”
Oh it’s off to the general’s house they’ve gone, great is the wager he has won.
Salute them both with the fife and the drum, she’s away with the rambling siúler.