The Little Beggarman


I am a little beggarman a beggin’ I have been
For three score or more in this little Isle of Green
I’m known from the Liffey, down to Segue
I’m known by the name of old Johnny Dhu
Of all the trades that’s goin sure beggin’ is the best
For when a man is tired he can sit down and rest
Beg for his dinner he has nothin’ else to do
Only cut around the corner with his old rigadoo

I slept in a barn way down at Currabawn
A wet night came on and I slept until the dawn
With holes in the roof and the rain coming through
The rats and the cats they were playing peekaboo
When who should awaken but the woman of the house
With her white spotty apron and her calico blouse
She began to frighten and I said “Boo!
Arrah don’t be afraid ma’am, it’s only Johnny Dhu”

I met a little flaxy-haired girl one day
“Good morning, little flaxy-haired girl”, I did say
“Good morning, little beggarman, a-how do you do
With your rags and your bags and your old rigadoo?”
“I’ll buy a pair of leggings, a collar and a tie
And a nice young lady I’ll fetch bye and bye
I’ll buy a pair of goggles and colour them blue
And and old-fashioned lady, I will make her too”

Over the road with my pack on my back
Over the fields with my great heavy sack
With holes in my shoes and my toes peeping through
Singing “Skinny-ma-rink-a-doodle-o and old Johnny Dhu
I must be going to bed, for it’s getting late at night
The fire’s all raked and out goes the light
So now you’ve heard the story of me old rigadoo
“It’s goodbye and God be with you”, said old Johnny Dhu

Very often in folk music the life of the footloose wanderer is celebrated. The hero of this song is such a charming, happy fellow he could very easily make you hitch on your pack and follow him on the road.