> June Tabor > Songs > The Devil and Bailiff McGlynn

The Devil and Bailiff McGlynn

[ Roud 5294 ; Ballad Index TSF095 ; trad.]

Sean O’Boyle and Peter Kennedy collected the ballad The Devil and Bailiff McGlynn on 20 July 1952 in Garrison, Co. Fermanagh from Michael Gallagher, an uncle of Paddy Tunney. This recording was included in 2013 on the Topic anthology Good People, Take Warning (The Voice of the People Volume 23).

June Tabor sang The Devil and Bailiff McGlynn in 1977 on her Topic album Ashes and Diamonds. She also sang it in a BBC radio session recorded on 11 July 1977 and broadcast on 19 July 1977.


June Tabor sings The Devil and Bailiff McGlynn

One fine sunny evening last summer I was straying along by the sea
When a pair of quare playboys a-roving before me I happened to see.
Now to learn what these boys were up to, a trifle I hastened me walk,
For I thought I could learn their professions when I got within range of their talk.

Now, one of these boys was the devil and the other was Bailiff McGlynn,
And the one was as black as the other and both were as ugly as sin.
Says the old boy, says he, “I’m the devil and you are a bailiff, I see.”
“Ah! ’tis the devil himself,” says the bailiff, “Now that beats the devil,” says he.

Now, a gossoon ran out from a cottage and took him up over the fields.
“May the devil take you,” said his mother as she rattled a stone at his heels.
“Ah now, why don’t you take the young rascal, your highness?” the bailiff he cried.
“Ah, it was not from her heart that she said it,” the devil he smiling replied.

Now, close by a small patch of potatoes a banbh was striving to dig,
When the owner come out and she cried, “May the devil take you for a pig!”.
Said the bailiff, “Now that’s a fine offer, why not take the banbh?” says he.
“Ah, it was but with her lips that she said it And that’s not sufficient for me.”

As they jogged on, the gossoon espied them and into his mother he sped,
Crying, “Mother!” says he, “There’s a bailiff!” She clasped her two hands and she said,
“May the devil take that ugly bailiff!” Said the old boy, “Bedad! That’ll do!
It was straight from her heart that she said it, so Bailiff McGlynn, I’ll take you.”