"Whiskey in the Jar" has become one of the most famous songs ever to be recorded and has trancended from traditional Irish folk song to the world of rock. It's one of those songs that wherever we live, or how old we are we know or remember!
Take a look at this version by the Dubliners which really sums up Irish traditional folk music.
Whiskey in the jar - The Dubliners
Whiskey in the jar is the tale of a highwayman who, after robbing a military or government official ("for I am a bold deceiver"), is betrayed by a woman named Jenny or Ginny; whether she is his wife or sweetheart has never been clear.
Various versions of the song take place in Kerry, Kilmagenny, Cork, Gilgarra Mountain, Sligo Town, and other towns throughout Ireland
It's also sometimes placed in the American South, in various places among the Ozarks or Appalachians,and this is because the Irish were amongst some of the earliest settlers in America.
The only consistently named figures in the song are the sweetheart who betrays the narrator, "Jenny/Ginny", and the Anglo-Irish official, "Captain Farrell", neither of which aids in the dating of the song.
The song ends with the narrator dreaming of escape and fleeing the town of his imprisonment to pursue his love of 'the good life.'
The Thin Lizzy version differs from the traditional one by dropping two verses and changing the lyrics of the second and third verse into a different interpretation of the story while sticking to the main idea slightly.
They also change the name of the female lover from Jenny to Molly
The song has been recorded by folk groups such as The Dubliners, The Pogues, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Seekers, The Highwaymen, Roger Whittaker, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, The Irish Rovers, the Poxy Boggards, Seven Nations, The Limeliters, King Creosote, and the Brobdingnagian Bards.
It’s also been recorded by such rock legends as Thin Lizzy and Metallica.
Whiskey in the jar - Metallica
As I was a goin' over the far famed Kerry mountains I met with captain Farrell and his money he was counting
I first produced my pistol and I then produced my rapier
Saying "Stand and deliver" for he were a bold deceiver
Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o.
Whack for my daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar
I counted out his money and it made a pretty penny
I put it in me pocket and I took it home to Jenny
She sighed and she swore that she never would deceive me
But the devil take the women for they never can be easy
I went up to my chamber, all for to take a slumber
I dreamt of gold and jewels and for sure 't was no wonder
But Jenny drew me charges and she filled them up with water
Then sent for captain Farrell to be ready for the slaughter
't was early in the morning, just before I rose to travel
Up comes a band of footmen and likewise captain Farrell
I first produced me pistol for she stole away me rapier
I couldn't shoot the water, so a prisoner I was taken
Now there's some take delight in the carriages a rolling
and others take delight in the hurling and the bowling
but I take delight in the juice of the barley
and courting pretty fair maids in the morning bright and early
If anyone can aid me 't is my brother in the army
If I can find his station in Cork or in Killarney
And if he'll go with me, we'll go rovin' through Killkenny
And I'm sure he'll treat me better than my own a-sporting Jenny