Paddy Works on the Erie
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John Renfro Davis


Information
Lyrics
According the Sandburg this was first published in the 1850s. It is also known as Paddy Works on the Railway. There is an endless variety of lyrics. I chose these because it is a better representation of working life on the railway than others. These are from the source listed below. In eighteen hundred and forty one
I put my cordoroy breeches on
I put my cordoroy breeches on
To work upon the railway.

Chorus
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
To work upon the railway

In eighteen hundred and forty-two,
I left the ould world for the new,
Bad cess to the luck that brought me through,
To work upon the railroad.

Chorus
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
To work upon the railway

When we left Ireland to come here,
And spend our latter days in cheer,
And bosses they did drink strong beer,
And Pat worked on the Railway

Chorus
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
To work upon the railway

Our contractor's name it was Tom King
He kept a store to rob the men,
A Yankee clerk with ink and pen,
To cheat Pat on the railway.

Chorus
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
To work upon the railway

It's "Pat do this" and "Pat do that"
Without a stocking or cravat,
And nothing but an old straw hat
While Pat works on the railway

Chorus
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
To work upon the railway

One Monday morning to our surprise,
Just half an hour before sunrise
The dirty divil went to the skies
And Pat worked on the railroad.

Chorus
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
To work upon the railway

And when Pat lays him down to sleep,
The wiry bugs around him creep,
And divil a bit can poor Pat sleep,
While he works on the railroad.

Chorus
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
To work upon the railway

In eighteen hudnred and forty-three
'Twas then I met sweet Biddy Magee,
And an illygant wife she's been to me,
While workin' on the railway.

Chorus
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
To work upon the railway

In eighteen hudnred and forty-six
The gang pelted me with stones and brick.
Oh I was in a hell of a fix
While working on the railroad.

Chorus
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
To work upon the railway

In eighteen hundred and forty-seven,
Sweet Biddy Magee, she went to heaven,
If she left one child, she left eleven,
To work upon the railway.

Chorus
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
To work upon the railway

In eighteen hundred and forty-eight
I learned to take my whisky straight,
'Tis an illygant drink and can't be bate,
For working on the railway.

Chorus
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-re-i-re-ay
To work upon the railway
Related Links
From:
American Ballads and Folk Songs
By John A. and Alan Lomax.
See Bibliography for full information.