« ZurückWeiter »
BARRY OF MACROOM.
Who the hero of the following song may be, the Editor is unable satisfactorily to determine; although Mr. Daniel MacCarthy, whom he is represented to have excelled in toping, is recorded in Dr. Smith's "History of Kerry" to have died in 1751, as is asserted, at the age of 112 years.
"He drank," says Smith, "" for many of the last years of his life, great quantities of rum and brandy, which he called naked truth;' and if, in compliance to other gentlemen, he drank claret or punch, he always took an equal quantity of spirits to qualify these liquors: this he called a wedge." Old Jem Nash was, no doubt, an equally distinguished individual belonging to that " persecuted and hard-drinking country," Ireland.
It is difficult to form a correct estimate of the quantity of whisky-punch which may be comfortably discussed at a sitting. In the case of a gentleman whose life had been insured for a large sum of money, the payment at his death was resisted by the Insurance Company, upon the plea that he had caused his death by excessive drinking. The matter came to a legal trial, and among other witnesses examined was one who swore that, for the last eighteen years of his life, he had been in the habit of taking every night four and twenty tumblers of whiskypunch. "Recollect yourself, sir," said the examining counsel. "Four and twenty! you swear to that;―did you ever drink five and twenty?" "I am on my oath," replied the witness; "and I will swear no further, for I never keep 'count beyond the two dozen, though there's
no saying how many beyond it I might drink to make myself comfortable: but that's my stint."
The Editor believes that he is not wrong in assigning this lyric to the pen of Mr. Richard Ryan, the author of a national biographical dictionary, entitled "The Worthies of Ireland," 2 vols. 8vo. 1819 and 1821, and of other works. The town of Macroom, upon which the fame of "bold Barry" has bestowed celebrity, is about eighteen miles west of the city of Cork. Upwards of eighty years ago, Smith, in his "History of Cork," observes that, "in this town are some whisky distillers; a liquor and manufacture so pernicious to the poor, that it renders every other employment useless to them." But it is to be hoped that Mr. Barry's example may have had its influence in diffusing a civilized taste for whisky-punch among them, and thus, by inducing the drinkers of "naked truth" to dilute their liquor, effect an important moral improvement.
Oh! what is Dan MacCarty, or what is old Jem Nash? Or all who e'er in punch-drinking, by luck, have cut a dash, Compared to that choice hero, whose praise my rhymes perfume
I mean the boast of Erin's Isle, bold Barry of Macroom?
'Twas on a summer's morning bright that Barry shone most gay,
He had of friends a chosen few, to dine with him that day; And to himself he coolly said (joy did his eyes illume)"I'll shew my guests there's few can match bold Barry of Macroom!"
The dinner was despatched, and they brought six gallonjugs*
Of whisky-punch; and after them, eight huge big-bellied mugs;
And soon all 'neath the table lay, swept clean as with a broom
Except the boast of Erin's Isle, bold Barry of Macroom!
Now Barry rose, and proudly cried-" By Judy, I'll go down,
And call into each whisky-shop that decorates our town; For lots of whisky-punch is here for master and for groom, If they'll come up and drink it with bold Barry of Macroom!
Thus Barry soon he brought with him a choice harddrinking set,
As ever at a punch-table, on Patrick's day, had met; Yet soon upon the floor they lay-a low, disgraceful doom;
While, like a giant fresh and strong, rose Barry of Macroom!
Then Barry went unto his wife, and to his turtle said
My dear, I now have had enough, therefore I'll go to
* "The custom of making punch in jugs seems a better one than that of each person making for himself. It mingles the spirits and water more intimately, and gives more mellowness to the liquor, from the practice of pouring it several times out of one jug into another. It is long since punch has been drunk out of bowls, but the large china bowl still holds its place in closets, in memory of past times, and as an article of show."-Views of Society and Manners in the North of Ireland, by John Gamble, Esq., 1819.
But, as I may be thirsty soon, just mix it in the room,
Brave Barry, he got very ill, his malady was such, It sprung from drinking whisky-punch, too little or too much;
And sickness, night and morning did, like canker in the bloom,
Attack and waste the carcass of bold Barry of Macroom!
The doctors they declared all, that punch he must give o'er, And less two gallons drink each day, or soon he'd drink
Then would the wild flowers, fair and gay, spring up around his tomb,
Above the turf that sepulchred bold Barry of Macroom!
Now Barry thought such talk as this was mighty hard to bear,
And grumbled as each day he quaff'd his hermit-kind of fare;
But Barry lived for many years, old whisky to consume, And, proved the prince of punch-drinkers, died Barry of Macroom!
THE MERRY MAN.
There is something extremely melancholy in the picture of reckless conviviality here exhibited; but it is, nevertheless, eminently characteristic of Irish good fellowship. The hero of this song, to use an American phrase,
goes the whole hog;" for, not content with expressing an utter contempt for the ordinary decencies of the table, such as filling his glass from the decanter, bottle, jug, or pitcher, which may be at hand, he absolutely inculcates the adoption of gymnastic exercise while drinking, by "fugling the can." And subsequently, when he is no longer able to be the fugle-man, a match at single-stick with blackthorn cudgels is recommended, as a convenient interlude between the disappearance of a cruiskeen of whisky and the introduction of a
full flowing bowl."
This is evidently here done in the spirit of kindness, and without any malicious motive; unlike the directions given in the will of one of Cromwell's followers in Ireland. "My body shall be put upon the oak-table in my coffin in the brown room, and fifty Irishmen shall be invited to my wake, and every one shall have two quarts of the best aqua vitæ, and each a skein, dirk, or knife, laid before him; and, when their liquor is out, nail up my coffin, and commit me to earth, from whence I came. This is my will. Witness my hand, this 3d of March, 1674.
"Some of his friends asked him why he would be at Irish at his funeral, a people
such charge to treat the whom he never loved? Why for that reason,' replied Langley; for they will get so drunk at my wake that they will kill one another, and so we shall get rid of some of the breed; and if every one would follow my example in their wills, in time we should get rid of them all!'"
The fifth verse of the song is levelled against an ancient practice, now rapidly falling into disuse, of hiring