“Jimmy Murphy”


"On the banks of Kilkenny... Is Joe Jimmy Murphy Who is lost and forsaken." "Tomorrow he will ride... through the city." "Tomorrow he will hang; But it's not for sheep-stealing But for courting a pretty girl By the name of Moll Figen"


Belden calls his text "possibly a game song, but certainly originally a song about a hanging, and evidently Irish." To me, his version looks like a serious song that took on a game-song chorus. - RBW

Moylan has "the serious song." From the description of Belden, I think the "game song" is close enough to Moylan that the songs should be kept together. [Perhaps more decisive is the fact that Belden's text seems to be nearly unique, though it has wandered far from the Irish roots. - RBW] Here is some more of Moylan

We gathered our pikes and flintlocks and green branches

And into old Wexford we soon were advancing.

Chorus: Skinny-ma-link, killy-ma-jo, whiskey, frisky too-ra-loo

Rank-a-diddle-i-doe, ding-doora-lie-o.

We fought through New Ross, Vinegar Hill and through Gorey

But it was the boys of the Cork Militia that deprived us of glory.

The ballad is recorded on one of the CD's issued around the time of the bicentenial of the 1798 Irish Rebellion. See:

Luke Cheevers, "Little Jimmy Murphy" (on "The Croppy's Complaint," Craft Recordings CRCD03 (1998); Terry Moylan notes)

Moylan: "This unusual piece appeared in the Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society in 1913. The note to the song says that it was heard by the informant being sung by a street-singer in Liverpool in 1830." - BS

For the battles of New Ross, Gorey, etc., see the notes to "Father Murphy (I)" and the various cross-references there. - RBW


  1. Belden, p. 291, "Joe Jimmy Murphy" (1 text)
  2. Moylan 119, "Little Jimmy Murphy" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Roud #7951
  4. BI, Beld291


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1911 (Belden)
Found in: US(So) Ireland