“The Night Before Larry Was Stretched”


"The night before Larry was stretched (hanged), the boys all paid him a visit." They come to commiserate with Larry, the most gallant, sporting -- and rebellious -- of the lot. He dies gallantly, "grow[s] white" at the name of King William, and is buried


Sparling, p. 514: "Hitherto the 'Night' has, through carelessness or ignorance, been printed incomplete, even by Graves, but the present version is unmutilated. It has been obtained by the careful collation of very many old chap-books and ballad-sheets." OLochlainn-More 52A is essentially the same as Sparling.

[Regarding the authorship:] _Handy Andy_ is a novel Samuel Lover published in 1842. Discussing authorship of street ballads, a character says, on page 468, "'The Night Before Larry Was Stretched' was done by a bishop they say." (The edition is in the _Irish Literature_ series published by PF Collier and Son, under _The Selected Writings of Samuel Lover,_ Vol 6, _Handy Andy_ part 2).

Sparling, p. 514: "Dublin street song, wrongly attributed to Dean Burrows; the only thing at all certain as to its origin is that he did not write it [supported by a reference to A.P. Graves].... The real writer was probably William Maher, best known as 'Hurlfoot Bill,' a worthy of the type he so well describes." - BS

Historical references

  • 1688-1702 - Reign of William III of Britain, whose victory at the Boyne (1690) solidified British rule over Ireland

Same tune

  • Saint Patrick of Ireland, My Dear! (File: CPS028)
  • Cats' Eyes (broadside NLScotland, L.C.1269(170b), "Cats' Eyes," Poet's Box (Glasgow?), 1858
  • Crafty Codger, or The Placehunter Out (Healy-OISBv2, pp. 111-113)
  • To G. K. Chesterton (Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), p. 692)

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Johnson Ballads 377, "The Night Before Larry Was Stretch'd"[last 5 lines missing], J. Evans (London), 1780-1812; also Harding B 28(199), "Night Before Larry Was Stretch'd"


  1. PBB 95, "The Night Before Larry Was Stretched" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Hodgart, p. 208, "The Night before Larry was Stretched" (1 text)
  3. OLochlainn-More 52A, "The Night Before Larry Was Stretched" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. ADDITIONAL: Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), pp. 289-292, "The Night Before Larry Was Stretched" (1 text)
  6. H. Halliday Sparling, Irish Minstrelsy (London, 1888), pp. 475-477, 514, "The Night Before Larry Was Stretched"
  7. Thomas Kinsella, _The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse_ (Oxford, 1989), pp. 261-263, "The Night Before Larry Was Stretched" (1 text)
  8. Frank Harte _Songs of Dublin_, second edition, Ossian, 1993, pp. 38-40, "The Night Before Larry Was Stretched" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. BI, PBB095


Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1813 (broadside, Bodleian Johnson Ballads 377); the tune seems to have been in use by 1803 (implied by its use in Jemmy O'Brien's Minuet, published in _Paddy's Resource or the Harp of Erin_)
Found in: Ireland