“On Patrick's Day in the Morning”


The singer, 20, meets a spinster, 70. He says he's wealthy. She proposes, having money of her own. On the way to a dentist to fix her only tooth they stop for a drink, jump into the river, "and I lost her forever, On Patrick's day in the morning"


May-December romances in which the man is the older (and usually incapable of performance) are common in folklore; (See, e.g., the various cross-references under "Maids When You're Young Never Wed an Old Man"). Old maid songs are also common. There aren't many where the old woman finds a young man, though.

Of course, he may have just been kidding her along. Or -- perhaps more likely -- going for her money. This phenomenon is relatively well-attested; an English example comes from the reign of Edward IV. According to Paul Murray Kendall, _Richard the Third_ (Norton, 1956), p. 61, "Sir John Woodville [the brother of Edward's wife Elizabeth] was given a marriage that even in that opportunistic age created a scandal: still in his teens, he wedded the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, a lady venerable enough to be his grandmother, but very rich."

The details of this marriage are a little vague; Elizabeth Jenkins, _The Princes in the Tower_ (Coward, McCann & Geoghan, 1978), p. 31, says that Woodville was twenty and the Dowager Duchess between seventy and eighty. But there is no doubt that she was too old to bear children, and that he was in it for the money. According to Jenkins, p. 53, Woodville eventually was executed for his behavior (by the Earl of Warwick, the nephew of the Dowager Duchess).

Thus, ironically, the Dowager Duchess outlived her strapping young husband. By more than half a decade, in fact; lin the late 1470s, she was negotiating to marry her granddaughter Anne Mowbray (the heir to the Norfolk dukedom) to Richard of York, the younger son of Edward IV (Jenkins, p. 113). Which implies that the Dowager Duchess was still of sound mind. (Which makes me wonder if she might not have been a little younger than everyone thinks.) - RBW


  1. Morton-Ulster 5, "On Patrick's Day in the Morning" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Roud #2895
  3. BI, MorU005


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1970 (Morton-Ulster)
Found in: Ireland