“Whisky You're the Devil”


Whiskey leads the singer astray. "We're on the march and off to Portugal and Spain" "The French are fighting boldly, men dying hot and coldly ... love fare thee well" A mother threatens to haunt the singer if he takes her daughter from her.


The references "now, brave boys, we're on the march and off to Portugal and Spain" and "the French are fighting boldly, men dying hot and coldly" seem to be a reference to the Peninsular campaign of the Napoleonic wars. On the other hand, it's a stretch to imagine a consistent story line: the chorus has whiskey leading the singer "O'er the hills and mountains and to Amerikay" - BS

The above is actually barely possible; soldiers in the Peninsula might have been sent to fight the United States in the War of 1812. But it's much easier to believe that it would happen in a songwriter's head than to an actual soldier. - RBW

Moylan attributes this to 1809 on the basis of something found in Winstock's _Songs and Music of the Redcoats_. I have searched that book at length and cannot identify the basis for this attribution, so I have not changed the Earliest Date. - RBW, (BS)

The ballad is recorded on one of the CD's issued around the time of the bicentenial of the 1798 Irish Rebellion. See:

Franke Harte and Donal Lunny, "Whiskey in the Jar" (on Franke Harte and Donal Lunny, "My Name is Napoleon Bonaparte," Hummingbird Records HBCD0027 (2001)) - BS


  • The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, "Whisky You're the Devil" (on IRClancyMakem01)


  1. Moylan 180, "Whiskey You're the Devil" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  2. Hugill, p. 454, "Whisky, You're My Darling" (1 fragment, 1 tune - taken from the Journal of the Folk Song Society, 1924. He only gives one verse, which deals with emigration to America, and which is filed here only tentatively)
  3. BI, RcWYTD


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1959 (IRClancyMakem01)
Found in: Ireland