Croppies Lie Down

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CROPPIES, LIE DOWN. Irish (?), English, Scottish; Jig. G Major (most versions): C Major (Haverty). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The tune title is the title of a sectarian Protestant song--'croppy' was a derogatory term for an agricultural labourer, usually a Catholic individual. The title comes from a patently inflamatory song, and as such it hardly appears in Irish collections. It does appear in print in English, Scottish and American collections, however, particularly in post-Rebellion of 1798 publications such as Cahusac's Compleat Tutor for the German Flute (London, 1798), Goulding's Clarinet Preceptor (London, 1803), and Wheatstone's Clarinet Preceptor (London, 1801). In America it was reproduced in Edward Riley's Flute Melodies (New York, 1814) and Thomas Ball's Gentleman's Amusement Book 1 (Norfolk, 1815). One can imagine the anger that the playing of the tune or singing the song in marches through Catholic neighborhoods might engender:

Oh, croppies, ye'd better be quite and still,
Ye shan't have your liberty, do as you will;
As long as salt water is formed in the deep,
A foot on the neck of the croppy we'll keep;
And drink, as in bumpers past troubles we'll drown,
A health to the lads that made croppies lie down,
Down, down, croppies lie down.

O'Neill (1913) tells of one Jemmy Byrne the Piper who lived in County Wexford in the early 19th century. Jemmy acquired the nickname 'Scut' at some point in his career, although it is not known exactly how. One story is that he "demeaned himself and insulted the sentiment of his people by playing party tunes, such as 'Croppies Lie Down,' at the orgies of the yeomen subsequent to the Rebellion of '98" (O'Neill generously remarks it would have been hard to refuse such a request, given the atmosphere of intimidation and repression at such events). Another possibility for Jemmy's sobriquet is that it was conferred by a particularly abstemious County Carlow priest who was determined to stamp out crossroads dancing in his parish. The outraged cleric is said to have declared to his congregation regarding Jemmy: "How dare this 'Scut' come into my parish with his bagpipes to corrupt and demoralize my flock in defiance of my expressed wish?" O'Neill points out he must have gained some fame despite his nickname and the exhortations of the priest, for the piper's name was remembered while the priest's was forgotten.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 77. P.M. Haverty (One Hundred Irish Airs vol. 3), 1859; No. 265, p. 131. Kennedy (Jigs & Quicksteps, Trips & Humours), 1997; No. 24, p. 8. Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 110. Skillern (Twenty-Four Country Dances for the Year 1799), p. 10.

Recorded sources:




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