> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > Bold Thady Quill

Bold Thady Quill

[ Roud 23572 ; Ballad Index RcBoThQu ; Johnny Tom Gleeson]

A.L. Lloyd sang Bold Thady Quill, accompanied by Steve Benbow on guitar and John Cole on harmonica, on his and Ewan MacColl’s 1958 Topic LP Bold Sportsmen All. He noted:

In the neighbourhood of Cork, Thaddeus Quill, Esq., is an admired legendary figure, a champion sportsman and prodigious lover. His song has persisted for about a hundred years, with verses constantly added, including some not meant for family listening. Bold Thady Quill is often sung as a community song, especially at big Irish football and hurling matches. This version was learned from James Sheehan of Dublin in 1947.

Danny Spooner sang Bold Thady Quill on his 2008 CD Brave Bold Boys. He noted:

Probably from the early nineteenth century, this is a fun song full of life and Irish blarney. Bold Thady was said to have lived in the Mushra Mountains near Macroom in County Cork. Whether he did or not doesn’t stop it from being a grand song to sing when a group of well-oiled voices get together. Muskerry in County Cork was once famous for hunting and such sports; no doubt Thady excelled in them all.

John and Tim Lyons sang Bold Thady Quill in 2012 on their Veteran CD Easy & Bold. John Howson noted:

This humorous legend can often be heard sung at football and hurling matches throughout Ireland. It tells of a farm labourer Timothy ‘Thady’ Quill (c.1860-1932) with a reputation as an all round sportsman who beat everyone and also as a great ladies man, with one rich and sickly lady remarking that she would be cured by “one squeeze outa bold Thady Quill”.

The Bold Thady Quill was composed in about 1895 by Johnny Tom Gleeson (1853-1924) for whom Thady worked in Rylane, Co. Cork. Gleeson fancied himself a poet/balladeer, lampooning many of his neighbours and acquaintances and he is said to have penned these verses as a satire on Thady’s laziness and inactivity, for although a burly man he actually was no athlete, but a lazy farm worker who slept in a barn which certainly didn’t endear him to the ladies.


A.L. Lloyd sings Bold Thady Quill

You maids of Sweet Garching who are anxious for courting
A word of advice I will give unto you:
Proceed into Cork, to the athletic sporting
And hand in your names at the old hurling pail.
But do not commence any part of your program
Till a truck you see comin’ over the hill,
Flan through the valleys and glens of Kilcorney
With their own darling sportsman, the bold Thady Quill.

Chorus (after each verse):
For ramblin’, for hurlin’, for football or courtin’
For emptying a glass sure as fast as you fill;
In all your days rovin’, you’ll find none so jovial
As the Muskerry sportsman, the bold Thady Quill.

At the great hurlin’ match between Cork and Tipperary
It was played in the park by the banks of the Lee.
Our own darlin’ hurlers were afraid of being beaten,
So they send for bold Thady to Ballinagree.
He hurled the ball right and left in their faces
Showing the Tipp’rary boys learnin’ and skill
If they touched on this lance, sure he swore he would brain’ em
And the papers were filled with the praise of Thade Quill.

In Haughan’s gymnasium there stood a fair lady
Whose fortune exceeded a million or more;
Her bad constitution had ruined her completely,
And medical treatment had failed o’er and o’er.
“Oh Mama,” said she, “Sure I know what will place me
And cure this diseases which will certainly kill.
Give over your doctors and medical treatment,
I’d rather one work-out with bold Thady Quill.”