Theresa O’Connor

Saint Patrick Was a Gentleman — Irish History in Song

Including this song is really stretching it, as virtually every claim about Saint Patrick in it is false. Nevertheless, the various legends surrounding Ireland's patron saint play a not-entirely-insignificant role in art and literature over the ages, so I think I can get away with it.

I think this song is by 18th-century Anglo-Irish poet Henry Bennett, but I could be mistaken.

Saint Patrick was a gentleman and he came from decent people
In Dublin town, he built a church, and on it put a steeple
His father was a Callahan, his mother was a Brady
His aunt was an O’Shaughnessy; his uncle an O’Grady

Then here’s to bold St. Paddy’s fist, he was a saint so clever
He gave them snakes and toads a twist, and banished them forever

There’s not a mile in Erin’s isle where the dirty vermin musters
Where’er he put his dear forefoot he murdered them in clusters
The toads went flop, the frogs went plop, slapdash into the water
And beasts committed suicide to save themselves from slaughter

The Wicklow hills are very high and so is the hill of Howth, sir
But there’s a hill much higher still, much higher than them both, sir
’Twas from the top of this high hill Saint Patrick preached his sermon
He drove the frogs into the bogs and banished all the vermin

No wonder that those Irish lads should be so gay and frisky
Well sure, Saint Pat, he taught them that, as well as making whiskey
No wonder that the saint himself should understand distilling
His mother kept a shebeen shop in the town of Enniskillen

OK, that wraps up the series for this year. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everybody!