“Saint Patrick's Arrival”


Saint Patrick exhortes the Irish to give up poteen and gives them other stuff to drink. They dump his stuff into a puncheon where it mixes with whisky. He tries to ask about the puncheon but they think he said "punch" and so name the drink.

Long description

Saint Patrick arrives in Bantry Bay "on the back of a whale" and is greeted by bosthoons, spalpeens, and other rustics. He promises to bring them together and rid them of their sins while he entertains them by driving the devil "beyond the Black Sea." Then he exhorts them to give up poteen. He sleeps and, when he wakes, is upset to find them with their cruiskeens and bags filled with whisky. He tries replacing their whisky with "something sweet ... [and] something sour" while they sleep. When they wske they dumped his stuff into a tub [puncheon] where it mixes with whisky. "By the side of this mixture Each man grew a fixture." Patrick is upset at his plan being foiled by this "spawn of Druids" He tries to ask about the puncheon but, in the uproar, only "punch" could be heard. The drinkers assumed that "punch ... is the name of this thing That is drink for a king."


Croker-PopularSongs: "Explanatory of the Origin of the word 'Punch.'" Puncheon here is taken to be "a large cask of varying capacity" (source: _Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged_, 1976; the same source has "punch, as "a hot or cold beverage ....," with a derivation perhaps from the Hindi or Sanskrit word for five, from "the number of ingredients.") - BS

Croker-PopularSongs: "The editor has been told that the author is a gentleman named Wood, an officer of the army; and that, some years since, the song was printed in the _Cork Southern Reporter_ newspaper with the signature 'Lanner de Waltram.'" - BS

Cross references

  • cf. "Patrick's Day in the Morning" (tune, according to Croker-PopularSongs)


  1. Croker-PopularSongs, pp. 16-22, "Saint Patrick's Arrival" (1 text)
  2. BI, CrPS016


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1839 (Croker-PopularSongs)