Priest and his Boots (1) (The)

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X:1 T:Priest in his Boots [1], The M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig B:Thompson – Compleat Collection of 120 Favourite Hornpipe (c. 1765-77, No. 23) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G G2G G2G|GBG FED|G2G GBG|FDF ABc| {e}d2B {d}c2A|{c}B2G FED|G2c B/c/dB|cAF G3:| |:GDG GDG|AFA AFA|BGB BGB|cAc cAc| {e}d2B {d}c2A|{c}B2G FED|G2c B/c/dB|cAF G3:|]



PRIEST AND HIS BOOTS [1], THE ("An Sagart 'Sa Butaiside" or "Sagart na mBuataisí"). AKA and see "Bounce Upon Bess," "Come All You Good Fellows," "Drum Corps (The)," “Irish Lilt (5),” "Larry O Lashem," "Kissing and Drinking (3)," "Mopsy's Tune (the Old Way)," “Murphy Delaney,” “Paddy's Dream,” "Paddy's Trip from Dublin," "Parson in Boots (1)," “Parson in Boots (2),” “Rocking the Cradle (2),” "There are aounds of mirth," "Tivoli (The)," "Welch Jig (2) (The)." Irish, Double Jig, Set Dance and Quickstep (6/8 time). D Major (Howe): B Flat Major (Haverty): G Major (Hall): D Mixolydian ('A' part) & G Major ('B' part) {Breathnach vol. 3, Cole}: A Mixolydian ('A' part) & D Major ('B' part) {Breathnach vol. 2, Levey, O'Neill}. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Haverty): AABB (most versions): AABBCCDD (Hall). The Irish title of this jig and old set- or country-dance translates as “Priest of the Boots,” though it is often found as “The priest in his boots” or “The priest and his boots.” Dance instructions, but no music, for a title called "The Priest and his books" is to be found in the Menzies Manuscript, 1749, contained in the Atholl Collection of the Sandeman Library, Perth, and, indeed, that may be the original title. O’Neill (1913) also confirms that a special dance was performed to this tune in Ireland. In fact, the tune appears to have been known throughout the British Isles, and early versions can also be found in Playford’s English Dancing Master (1651)--under the title “An old man is a bed full of bones”--Oswald’s Caledonian Pocket Companion (1745-65 under the title “The Irish Lilt”) and James Aird’s Selections of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs (1786, as "Pareson in His Boots"). An early version of the tune was printed under the “Priest in his Boots” title in Charles and Samuel Thompson’s Compleat Collection of 120 Favourite Hornpipes (London, c. 1765-77, No. 23). Alfred Moffat, in The Minstrelsy of Ireland (1897), identified variants of this tune as “Murphy Delaney” and “Miser (1),” and gave it as the air of a song entitled "Paddy's Trip from Dublin." “The Miser’s” melodic differences are greater and it has sometimes been disputed whether in fact it is a variant of “Priest and his Boots”.

Breathnach (1976) believes most of the alternate titles printed by O’Neill are song names, for songwriters were very fond of the tune as a vehicle for their words. For instance, he finds four songs set to it in Crosby’s Irish Musicial Repository (1808, c.f. "Paddy's Trip to Dublin," "Murphy Delaney," "Larry O'Lasham," "Paddy's Dream") and notes Thomas Moore set his song “There are sounds of mirth” to it. Francis O'Neill records: "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 "A Jig to the Irish Cry", one of Burk Thumoth's Twelve Irish Airs, published in 1742" [1]. "Bounce Upon Bess" is the name of another Irish song set to the tune, printed as early as 1839. The title was a cant term for strong whisky, which Crofton Croker posits was connected with a woman lost her footing due to strong drink and was "knocked down flat." The first stanza goes:

Come all you good fellows who love to be gay,
Who spend every night what you earn each day;
Drink deep of that liquor which Irishmen bless,
For you'll find no such cordial as "Bouce upon Bess.
Compared with such balsam, all drink is small beer,
What raises the spirits can never be dear;
The inside it warms, and cheers up the heart,
And puts life in a man--from a gill to a quart.

There is a direct relation to the similarly-entitled melody “Parson in Boots (1)” published in the late 18th century by James Aird and others, although the earliest tune by that name, published in London by the Thompsons c. 1765, has a different second strain. O’Neill (1922) remarks: “As ‘The Priest in His Boots’ and ‘The Parson in his Boots’, this tune was printed in six different Collections of Music between the years 1765 and 1809 at Edinburgh, London, and Dublin. The dullest ear can discern the similarity of strain in the second parts of ‘The Priest and his Boots’ and ‘Arkansas Traveler (1)’”. Howe (c. 1867) also gives “Paddy's Trip from Dublin,” “Murphy Delaney,” “Larry O'Lashem” and “Paddy's Dream” as alternate titles, after Croker.

John McLachlan labelled the tune a "quickstep" in his Piper's Assistant (1854).


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Breathnach (CRÉ II), 1976; No. 17, p. 11. Breathnach (CRÉ III), 1985; No. 8, p. 5. Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 52. John Hall (A Selection of Strathspeys Reels, Waltzes & Irish Jigs), c. 1818; p. 2. P.M. Haverty (One Hundred Irish Airs vol. 3), 1859; No. 266, p. 132. Hime (Forty Eight Original Irish Dances Never Before Printed with Basses), Dublin, 1804; No. 4. Howe (1000 Jigs and Reels), c. 1867; p. 103. Levey (Dance Music of Ireland, 2nd Collection), 1873; No. 51, p. 22. Manson (Hamilton's Universal Tune Book, vol. 2), 1846; p. 42. McLachlan (The Piper's Assistant), 1854; No. 42, p. 24. Moffat (Minstrelsy of Ireland), 1897; Appendix, p. 342. Mulhollan (Selection of Irish and Scots Tunes), Edinburgh, 1804; p. 8. O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 47. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 968, p. 180. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 188, p. 45. O’Neill (Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody), 1922; No. 238-A. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; pp. 81 & 89. Straight and Skillern (Two Hundred and Four Favourite Country Dances, vol. 1), c. 1775; No. 184, p. 92.

Recorded sources : - Claddagh Records CC8, Paddy Taylor - "The Boy in the Gap" (1969). Flying Fish FF-246, The Red Clay Ramblers - "Hard Times" (1981).Green Linnet SIF 1105, Patrick Street – “Irish Times.” Maggie’s Music MM220, Hesperus – “Celtic Roots.”

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Alan Ng’s Irishtune.info [2]



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  1. Francis O'Neill, Irish Folk Music: A Fascinating Hobby, 1910, p. 140.