“The Beggarman (I)”


On Monday morning the beggarman takes his meal, flail and staff and leaves his wife and daughter in Ballinderry. He stops at a farmer's home not welcoming to strangers. The mistress of the house makes him welcome to table and bed as long as he'll stay.

Supplemental text

Beggarman (I), The
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

The Beggarman's Ramble

From the recording by Robert Cinnamond (IRRCinnamond02: "Love Songs"
FOLKTRAX-158). Transcribed and with notes by John Moulden; quoted with
his permission. - BS

It was in Ballinderry the beggarman first gathered his meal [Pronounced mail]
Says the mother to the daughter, "Did you see the beggarman's flail?"
I'll go out on a Monday morning and I'll take a long staff in my hand
And the world I'll parade so courageously I'll jog along.
To Antrim I'll go where the jolly old farmer does dwell
Beggars they won't serve for he knows that they know very well
No beggars they'll serve and very few strangers they'll lodge
I take off my caubeen [Irish = hat] and I show them where I carry the badge 
(A beggar's badge  was a licence to practice within a particular parish)
"O mistress, dear mistress, there stands a poor man in the hall
Lie close in your chamber or by Jove he will ruin us all
His long ragged britches are torn both behind and before
Oh mistress dear mistress such a beggarman I've never saw before."
[Mistress here is said 'Misterss'. In similar fashion 'tavern' is pronounced 'tavren' and 'brethren', 'brethern']
And the mistress came down and she did this poor man embrace
Saying, "Ah where are you from, come tell me your own native place"
I answered, "Dear madam I come from that sweet county called Down
And when I'm at home my dwelling place is in sweet Killyleagh town."
"O come down to the kitchen," this fair lady unto me did say
"There's ale, wine and brandy to ?taste you as long as you stay
You can eat at my table and lie in my soft bed of down
That's if you stay with me Tom Targer from Killyleagh town."

[You'll find an alternate text of this song about the reputed sexual
attraction  and prowes of beggars in Jackie Boyce, "Songs of County Down"]


In IRRCinnamond02, the beggarman, Tom Targer, is from Killyleagh town, County Down. The plot vaguely resembles "The Jolly Beggar" [Child 279] but it adds the beggar's wife and daughter at the beginning and drops the revelation of a disguise at the end.

The description is based on John Moulden's transcription from IRRCinnamond02 included in the Traditional Ballad Index Supplement. - BS

The whole thing reminds me a bit of the story of David and Nabal of Carmel (1 Samuel 25): David, fleeing from Saul (and separated from his wife Michal) seeks help (protection money, really) from Nabal. Nabal refuses. Nabal's wife Abigail gives it -- and later marries David. If you assume that this *is* a relative of The Jolly Beggar, it sort of makes sense. But I imagine it's just coincidence. - RBW


  • Robert Cinnamond, "The Beggarman's Ramble" (on IRRCinnamond02)


  1. ST RcTBegm (Partial)
  2. Roud #3080
  3. BI, RcTBegm


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1955 (IRRCinnamond02)
Found in: Ireland