Skip to main content.
Navigation: Home | About | News | Schedule | Multimedia | Recordings | Tours | Links

The Hackler From Grouse Hall


[Song Brook]

Key of C minor (Capo 3, A Minor)

This song is from Colm O'Lochlainn's "Irish Street Ballads," a book that has been a great old pal over the years. A Hackler, strictly speaking, is a person involved in the process of refining flax, which used to be grown in abundance in County Cavan where this story takes place. The sergeant, who is rightly or wrongly maligned here, has his own song in answer with nearly as many verses! It too can be found in O'Lochlainn's wonderful collection.

I am a roving hackler lad that loves the Shamrock shore
My name is Pat McDonnell and me age is eighty-four
Belov'd and well-respected by my neighbours one and all
On St. Patrick's Day I love to stray round Lavey and Grouse Hall

When I was young I danced and sung and drank strong whiskey too
In shebeen shop that sold a drop of real oul mountain dew
With poteen still on every hill the peelers had no call
Round sweet Stradone I am well-known, round Lavey and Grouse Hall

I used to go from town to town, for hacklin' was me trade
Nor can deny I thought that I an honest living made
Where'ere I'd strayed by night or day the youth would always call
To have the craic with Paddy Jack the Hackler from Grouse Hall

I think it strange how very much the times have changed of late
Coercion now is all the row with Peelers on their bate
To take a glass is now alas the greatest crime of all
Since Balfour placed that hungry beast,the Sergeant from Grouse Hall

That busy tool of Castle rule he wanders night and day
He'd grab a goat all by the throat for want of better prey
The nasty skunk he'd swear you're drunk when you've had none at all
Oh there is no peace around the place since he came to Grouse Hall

'Twas on pretense of this offense he dragged me off to jail
Alone to dwell in a cold cell me fortune to bewail;
Me hoary head on a plank of a bed, such wrongs for vengeance call
Oh he'll rue the day he dragged away the Hackler from Grouse Hall

He haunts the League, just like a plague, and shame for to relate
The priest can't be on Sunday free the Mass to celebrate;
It's there he'll kneel encased in steel prepared for duty's call
For to assail and drag to jail our clergy from Grouse Hall

His raid on dogs I'm sure it flogs, it's shocking to behold
How he'll pull up a six month's pup and swear it's two year-old;
Outside of hell a parallel can't be found for him at all
For that vile pimp, the devil's imp and ruler of Grouse Hall

He'd run pell-mell down into hell to search for poteen there
And won't be loath to swear an oath he found it in Killinkere
He'll search your bed from foot to head, sheets, blankets, tick and all
Oh your wife undressed must leave the nest for Jemmy from Grouse Hall

Thank God the day isn't far away when Home Rule will be seen
And brave Parnell at home will dwell and shine in College Green;
And our policemen then will be our nation's choice and all
Oul Balfour's pack will get the sack and banished from Grouse Hall

Come old and young clear up your lungs and sing this little song
Come join with me and let them see you all resent the wrong
And while I live I'll always give a prayer for his downfall
And when I die I won't deny I'll haunt him from Grouse Hall