The Kelligrews Soiree

Original Text: 
John White's Collection of the Songs of Johnny Burke, ed. William J. Kirwin (St. John's, Newfoundland: Harry Cuff, 1982): 34-35.
1You may talk of Clara Nolan's ball,
2    Or anything you choose
3But it couldn't hold a snuff-box
4    To the spree in Kelligrews.
5If you want your eyeballs straightened,
6    Just come out next week with me
7And you'd have to wear your goggles
8    At the Kelligrew Soiree.
Cho: --
11        Pigs' feet, cats' teeth, dumplings boiled in a sheet;
14    As I squared my yards to sail,
17Bill Cuddihy's old working pants,
18    And Martin Casey's shoes,
19And an old white vest from Fogarty
20    To sport in Kelligrews.
Cho: --
22        Everything to catch the pennies raise your hearts to see,
23        Boiled owl, cold owl, Plymouth rock and Jersey fowl;
24        Apple dumplings in a towel at the Kelligrews Soiree.
25Oh, when I arrived at Betsy Snooks,
26    That night at half past eight;
27The place was black with carriages,
28     Stood waiting at the gate.
30    The first words Betsy said,
31Here comes a local preacher
32    And the pulpit on his head.
Cho: --
34        Mr. Binks read out the news! they all cried out to me,
38    Miss Betsy kindly said;
39I danced with Mrs. Tilley
41And Hogan danced with Betsy,
42    Oh, you should have seen her shoes,
44    That night in Kelligrews.
45Cho: --
47        And a little drop of stuff to raise our hearts you see;
48        Cold teas, sliced cheese, muskrat ears and bumble bees.
49        Everything the eye could please at the Kelligrews Soiree.
50Crooked Flavin struck the fiddler,
51    And a hand I then took in;
52You should see George Cluney's beaver
53    And it flattened to the rim.
54And Hogan's coat was like a vest,
55    The tails were gone you see;
57    And your Kelligrews Soiree.

Notes

9] Birch rhine: birch bark, used sometimes for insulation (Dictionary of Newfoundland English). Back to Line
10] Jowls: meat from the jaw-bone of a pig (Dictionary of Newfoundland English). calavances: type of small bean used especially for soup (Dictionary of Newfoundland English). Back to Line
12] crackies' meat: meat from a small, noisy mongrel dog (Dictionary of Newfoundland English). Back to Line
13] beaver: beaver hat. Back to Line
15] swallow tail: swallow-tailed coat. Back to Line
16] foxy: faded. Back to Line
21] piccaninnies: very young animals. Back to Line
29] funnel: top hat. Back to Line
33] "brewse": "Sea-biscuit or 'hard tack' soaked in water and then boiled; such a dish cooked with salt cod and fat pork" (Dictionary of Newfoundland English). Back to Line
35] lassey balls: molasses balls. Back to Line
36] Pullets: chickens. Back to Line
37] saratoga lancers: a traditional Cape Breton tune and reel. Back to Line
40] head: wharf. Back to Line
43] flintlocks: "gun-lock in which a flint, screwed to the cock, is struck against the hammer and produces sparks which ignite the priming in the flash-pan" (OED). Back to Line
46] duff: "pudding made of flour and water, sometimes with suet and raisins added, boiled in a cloth bag" (Dictionary of Newfoundland English). cuff: thick, fingerless, winter mitten. Back to Line
56] haul: catch in a net (as fish). Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: 
2011