X:1 T:Murphy Delany M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig S:O'Farrell - Pocket Companion, vol. 1 (c. 1805) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:G D/E/ | G3G3 | GAG Bcd | G2G GFG | EAG FED | G3G3 | GAG Bcd | ege dcB | ABG FED :| |: B2d ded | dgd dcB | c2e efe | ege edc | B2d ded | dgd def | gfe dcB | ABG FED :|]
MURPHY DELANEY. AKA and see "Jigg to The Irish Cry," "Miser (1)," "Parson in His Boots (The)," "Parson in Boots (2)," "Parson on His Boots (The)," "So she bid me tell you." Scottish, Irish, English; Jig and Air (6/8 time). B Flat Major (Gow, Kerr, Lowe, Morrison, Surenne, Thompson): G Major (Ashman, Kennedy, O'Farrell). Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Morrison): AABB (most versions). "Murphy Delaney" was attributed to English songwriter and composer Charles Dibdin in a songbook of 1828, according to Bruce Olsen, although he has not been able to confirm the fact. The tune appears in vol. 1 of O'Farrell's Pocket Companion for the Irish Pipes (c. 1805) and in Gow's 3rd Repository (1806), both of which give the provenance as Irish. "Murphy Delaney" can also be found in J. Balls' Gentleman's Amusement, Book 3 (London, 1815, reprinted in 1830). An American printing is in Edward Riley's Flute Melodies, vol. 2 (New York, 1817). The jig appears in a few period musicians' manuscripts: fiddler or fifer John Fife (Perthshire and at sea, first begun in 1780 and continued through 1804), and fifer or fluter P. Van Schaack (Kinderhook, N.Y., 1820). In the former "Murphy Delaney" is given as an alternate title (the primary title being "Let Me Alone New if You Think Proper"), while in the latter the title is given as "Murphy de Lancey."
"Murphy Delaney" was originally the title of a song, from which the tune takes its name. O'Neill, in his Irish Folk Music: A Fascinating Hobby (1910), writes:
In Crosby's Irish Musical Repository, "The Priest in His Boots" is given as the air of a song entitled "Paddy's Trip from Dublin," a few pages further on it is again named as the air to "Murphy Delaney." Both may have had a common origin, which time and taste have varied, yet "Murphy Delaney" as now known appears to have been derived from "Jig to the Irish Cry (A)," one of Burk Thumoth's Twelve Irish Airs, published in 1742.
"Murphy Delaney," according to Alfred Moffat, evolved from an earlier tune called "Priets/Parson in Boots (2)," which was printed by Robert Bremner in 1757 and Charles and Samuel Thompson in Compleat Collection of 120 Favorite Hornpipes (c. 1765). It would appear the "Parson/Priest" titles predate the 'Delaney' title. William Morrison notes in his c. 1813 collection that "the tune can be used for a Bumpkin", referencing its use as the vehicle for the country dance called The Bumpkin or The Ninesome Reel, a type of cushion dance (see "Babbity Bowster" for more).
The song "Murphy Delaney" is mentioned in a Victorian ghost story called "An account of some strange disturbances in Aungier Street" by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, originally printed in the Dublin University Magazine (1853).
I yet could hear a pleasant fellow singing, on his way home, the then popular comic ditty called, 'Murphy Delany.' Taking advantage of this diversion I lay down again, with my face towards the fireplace, and closing my eyes, did my best to think of nothing else but the song, which was every moment growing fainter in the distance:--
Twas Murphy Delany, so funny and frisky,
Stept into a shebeen shop to get his skin full;
He reeled out again pretty well lined with whiskey,
As fresh as a shamrock, as blind as a bull.'