“Skin the Goat's Curse on Carey”


Skin the Goat says before he sails that he will give Carey, the informer, his curses, such as, "by some mistake may he shortly take A flowing pint of poison." Skin the Goat promises that "when I die, my old ghost will sit on his bed-post"


For another broadside on the same subject see

Bodleian, Harding B 26(605), "'Skin the Goat's' Letter" ("You jolly old boys just hold your noise"), unknown, n.d.

Zimmermann p. 62: "The Phoenix Park murders and their judicial sequels struck the popular imagination and were a gold-mine for ballad-writers: some thirty songs were issued on this subject, which was the last great cause to be so extensively commented upon in broadside ballads."

Zimmermann p. 284: "'Skin the Goat' was the nickname of James Fitzharris, the cabman who drove the murderers of Lord Cavendish and Thomas Henry Burke to and from Phoenix Park. He was sentenced to penal servitude for 'conspiracy' because he refused to identify his passengers." - BS

Historical references

  • Chronology of the Phoenix Park murders (source: primarily Zimmermann, pp. 62, 63, 281-286.)
  • May 6, 1882 - Chief Secretary Lord Frederick Cavendish and the Under Secretary Thomas Henry Burke are murdered by a group calling themselves "The Invincible Society."
  • January 1883 - twenty seven men are arrested.
  • James Carey, one of the leaders in the murders, turns Queen's evidence.
  • Six men are condemned to death, four are executed (Joseph Brady is hanged May 14, 1883; Daniel Curley is hanged on May 18, 1883), others are "sentenced to penal servitude," and Carey is freed and goes to South Africa.
  • July 29, 1883 - Patrick O'Donnell kills Carey on board the "Melrose Castle" sailing from Cape Town to Durban.
  • Dec 1883 - Patrick O'Donnell is convicted of the murder of James Carey and executed in London (per Leach-Labrador)

Cross references

  • cf. "The Phoenix Park Tragedy" (subject: the Phoenix Park murders) and references there


  1. Zimmermann 85, "Skin the Goat's Curse on Carey" (1 text)
  2. BI, Zimm085


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1883 (Zimmermann)