A ditty that came from the Irish music halls in the 1860s, and a must for “plastic Paddys” everywhere. I am informed that the song is a composition of John F. Poole, originally from Dublin but at this time a resident of NYC, and one of a group of Irish songwriters who circulated around Tony Pastor and his music hall scene. Poole took his inspiration for this song from a popular music hall song, “A Fine Ould Irish Gentleman.” I am also told that the irony is that he fell off a ladder, dying from his injuries!
Tim Finnegan lived in Watling street
A gentleman Irish, mighty odd!
He had a brogue both rich and sweet
And to rise in the world he carried a hod
You see he’d a sort of a tipplin’ way
With a love for the liquor for Tim was born
And to send him on his way each day,
He’d a drop of the craythur every morn’
Whack fol’ the dah will ya dance to your partner
Round the floor your trotters shake
Isn’t it the truth I told ya?
Lots of fun at Finnegan’s wake!
One morning Tim was rather full
His head felt heavy which made him shake
He fell off the ladder and he broke his skull
And they carried him home, his corpse to wake
Rolled him up in a nice, clean sheet
They laid him out upon the bed
With a gallon of whiskey at his feet
And a barrel of porter at his head.
His friends assembled at the wake
And Mrs. Finnegan called for lunch (lunch!)
Well, first she brought them tea and cake
Then pipes, tobacco, and whiskey punch
Biddie O’Brien began to cry.
“Such a nice clean corpse did you ever see?”
“Aura Tim, auvreen! Why did you die?”
“Oh shut yer gob!” says Biddie McGee’
When Magee O’Conner took up the job
“Oh Biddy,” says she, “you’re wrong, I’m sure.”
Well Biddy gave her a belt in the gob
And left her sprawling on the floor
Then the war did then engage
‘Twas woman to woman and man to man
Shillelagh law was all the rage
And a row and a ruction soon began
Mickey Maloney ducked his head
When a bottle of whiskey flew at him
It missed, and landing on the bed
The liquor scattered over Tim
BeGod he revives; see how he rises!
Timothy risin’ from the bed!
Sayin’ “Whirlin’ your whiskey around like blazes,”
“Thunder and lightening! Do ye think I’m dead?!”