“Betsy Brennan's Blue Hen”


The singer bought "my beautiful little blue hen" from the widow McKenny for a penny. It was swiped by "some dirty crawler." The song is a set of curses on "the villain" who stole the hen: "And may he have bunions As big as small onions"


NFOBlondahl02, NFOBlondahl05: This is a version of "Betsy Brennan's Blue Hen" attributed to Johnny Burke in _Old-Time Songs and Poetry of Newfoundland_ 4th ed (1966) p. 76, 5th ed (1978) p. 58 pub by Gerald S Doyle Ltd. [It's also in the 1927 edition - RBW]

Also see "Blue Hen" on the MacEdward Leach and Songs of Atlantic Canada site, copyright owner Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive. That site refers to Roud #9053, "The Bonny Brown Hen," which shares the theme but is not the same song.

Not related to Bodleian, Harding B 11(402), "The Bonny Brown Hen," Walker (Durham), n.d.

This may have been written by Johnny Burke, but, if so, he must have been singing "Nell Flaherty's Drake" while he was writing "Betsy Brennan's Blue Hen." - BS

Cross references


  • Omar Blondahl, "My Little Blue Hen" (on NFOBlondahl02, NFOBlondahl05)


  1. Roud #7289
  2. BI, RcBBBHen


Author: Johnny Burke
Earliest date: 1927 (Doyle)
Found in: Canada(Newf)