Night before Larry was Stretched (The)

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NIGHT BEFORE LARRY WAS STRETCHED, THE (An Oidce Roime Crocad Lamrais). AKA and see "To the hundreds of Drury I write," "When Pettie came over the Glen." Irish, Air (9/8 time, "with spirit"). G Minor/Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The song is a member of a group of 'Execution Songs' written in the 1780's in Newgate (prison) Cant or Slang Style. It was printed in The Festival of Anacreon (1789), where it was directed to be sung to the melody of "To the hundreds of Drury I write" (the first line of an English broadside entitled "The Bowman Prigg's Farewell" c. 1730). The lyric begins:

Oh the night before Larry was stretched [i.e., hanged]
The boys they all paid him a visit,
A bait [food] in their sacks too they fetched,
For they sweated their duds [pawned their clothes]
till they ris it [rose it, i.e., got the money].
For Larry was ever the lad
When a boy was condemned to the squeezer [noose]
Would fence [sell] all the duds that he had
For to help his poor friend to a sneezer [drink?]
and warm his gob [mouth] 'fore he died.

The song is has been attributed to many: Frank Harte remarks that it was written by Will (Hurlfoot) Maher, a shoemaker from Waterford, albeit Dr. Robert Burrowes, the Dean of St. Finbar's Cork, is often attributed as the author. Dan Milner believes it as penned by Thomas Moran (writing as Zozimus), the Dubliner broadside scribe. The Universal Songster (1828) prints the song, attributing it to "Curren," perhaps a reference to John Philpot Curran. Scottish fiddler-composer Robert Petrie included the melody in his Fourth Collection of Strathspeys, Reels, Jiggs and Country Dances (c. 1805) under the title "When Pettie came over the Glen."

Source for notated version: the tune was transcribed for O'Neill by Chicago police sergeant and fiddler James O'Neill, originally from northern Ireland [O'Neill].

Printed sources: R.M. Levey (Dance Music of Ireland, 1st Collection), 1858; No. 110, p. 43. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 39, p. 7. Walker's Hibernian Magazine, 1787.

Recorded sources: Topic 12T172, Frank Harte – "Dublin Street Songs."

See also listing at:
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [1]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Hear Frank Harte's recording on youtube.com [3]




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