Real Old Mountain Dew, The

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  • Teideal (Title): Real Old Mountain Dew, The.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 781508 and 781509.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 938.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): song.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Esther Warkov.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 24/02/1978.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): day class.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

The mountain dew was the old name given to the whiskey, because when the people were making it illegally they had to go out in the mountains to avoid the peelers1 and priests and what-have-you. And this is how it goes:

Let grasses grow and waters flow in a free and easy way
But give me enough of the real old stuff that’s made near Galway Bay
No gaugers2 call from Donegal, Sligo or Leitrim, too
We’ll give them a slip as we take a sip on the real old mountain dew.

Chorus (tune lilted)

At the foot of the hill there’s a neat little still with the smoke rolling up to the sky
By the whiff and the smell you can easily tell there is poteen3, boys, close by!
Oh, it fills the air with a perfume rare and between both me and you
As home we go we’ll take a bowl or a bucket-full of mountain dew.


Now learned men have used a pen to raise its praises high
Of the sweet poteen from Ireland green distilled by wheat and rye;
Oh, to hell with your pills, it will cure all ills – the pagan, the Christian, Jew
So take off your coat and free your throat with the real old mountain dew.



1. ‘Peelers’ i.e. members of the British police force, founded in England by Sir Robert Peel. (Hence also ‘bobbies’.)

2. Revenue men. They weren’t popular.

3. Anglicisation of the Irish poitín.

This performance was recorded during a joint seminar with Mike Seeger at the end of February, 1978. Joe’s performance was recorded on Thursday, 24th February 1978, and the ensuing conversation and Seeger’s performance were taped the following week.

This song was among those recorded early on in the folk music revival by the Mc Peakes of Belfast. Others included The Jug of Punch and The Wild Mountain Thyme. All of these songs were taken up by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem during the ‘ballad boom’.