> Louis Killen > Songs > Tom Paget
> Spiers & Boden > Songs > Tom Padget

The Beggarman of County Down / Tom Padget

[ Roud 3080 ; Ballad Index RcTBegm ; Mudcat 6692 ; trad.]

Robert Cinnamond sang The Beggarman to Sean O’Boyle in August 1955, probably in Co. Antrim. This recording was released in 1975 on Cinnamond’s Topic album of traditional ballads and songs from Ulster, You Rambling Boys of Pleasure. Proinsias Ó Conluain noted:

This song, like the fragment about the weaver, goes to an air similar to that heard in Donegal for the Gaelic song Bean an Fhir Rua (The Red-Haired Man’s Wife).

Louis Killen learned “that sly and saucy pean to begging, Tom Paget,” from Brian Blanchard of the Brighton Folk Club. He recorded in in Winter 1977 at the Eldron Fennig Folk Museum of American Ephemera for his album Old Songs, Old Friends.

John Spiers and Jon Boden recorded Tom Padget in 2008 for their album Vagabond and again in 2010/11 for their CD The Works. Jon Boden also sang it as the 31 July 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. They commented in the first album’s notes:

Learnt from the singing of Louis Killen, pretty much the best singer of traditional songs in England at this time. Louis learnt it from Brian Blanchard whilst getting a lift to Brighton after the 1970 Sidmouth festival; Brian had learnt it that summer from a singer in [Miltown Malbay, County Clare (corrected from Brian’s daughter Gill Blanchard)].


Robert Cinnamond sings The Beggarman

It was in Ballinderry the beggarman first gathered his meal,
Says the mother to the daughter, “Did you see the beggarman’s flail?”
I’ll go out on a Monday morning and I’ll take a long staff in my hand
And the world I’ll parade so courageously I’ll jog along.

To Antrim I’ll go where the jolly old farmer does dwell,
Beggars they won’t serve for he knows that they know very well.
No beggars they’ll serve and very few strangers they’ll lodge
I take off my caubeen and I show them where I carry the badge.

“O mistress, dear mistress, there stands a poor man in the hall,
Lie close in your chamber or by Jove he will ruin us all.
His long ragged britches are torn both behind and before,
Oh mistress, dear mistress, such a beggarman I’ve never saw before.”

And the mistress came down and she did this poor man embrace,
Saying, “Ah where are you from, come tell me your own native place.”
I answered, “Dear madam I come from that sweet county called Down
And when I’m at home my dwelling place is in sweet Killyleagh town.”

“O come down to the kitchen,” this fair lady unto me did say
“There’s ale, wine and brandy to taste you as long as you stay
You can eat at my table and lie in my soft bed of down
That’s if you stay with me Tom Targer from Killyleagh town.”

Louis Killen sings Tom Paget

Of all the trades going ’tis begging I take great delight,
For m’rent is all paid as I lay my bags down for the night;
For my rent is all paid as I take a long stick in my hand —
And at night I will please the fair maidens as best as I can.

I walked all the day till I came to some rich farm house,
And I knocked on the door like some poor fool left lately without;
Without eating or drinking for twenty long hours and more —
And I said, “Kind madam, will you pray for, and remember the poor?”

“If it’s alms that you want, you shall get them old man,“ she said.
But before she gave pennies she ran to her mother upstairs —
Crying, “Mammy, o Mammy, there is a strange man in the hall —
Stay close to your chamber, for I fear he will ravish us all!”

Well, her mother did scuff her and called her a silly young fool
To take any such notion about a poor man at the door —
For his clothes were all ragged and his britches torn behind and before,
And his doldrums hung down a good fourteen long inches or more.

“Tom Paget,” she said, “Why don’t you go and work for your bread,
To some rich farmer and be decently clothed and fed?”
“Ah! To plough and sow, Madam, I’m afraid I have but little skill;
But I’ll plough the small furrow that lies at the foot of your hill!”

“Tom Paget,” she said, “If you and I could but agree,
Then I’d make you the steward over all of my lands for to be.
And we’d eat at one table, and we’d sleep on a soft bed of down,
If only I could have you, Tom Paget of Killaloe town.”

(repeat first verse)


I copied Robert Cinnamond’s lyrics from Folklorist and Louis Killen’s lyrics from the liner notes of his LP.