Farmer’s Cursed Wife, The

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  • Teideal (Title): Farmer’s Cursed Wife, The.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 855412.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 160.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): 278.
  • 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): Robin Hiteshew.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 16/03/1980.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Devon, Pennsylvania, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): concert.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

The Devil came to this farmer and he asked him, is there any of your family- I must take away one of your family; who do you want to give [me]? And the man said, ‘Take away my wife,’ he said, ‘because she’s nagged me all my life, and I can’t stand it any longer.’ And this is the way it was:

The Devil he came to the man at the plough
Daigh-dee diddle-um diddle-um dee
He said ‘One of your family I must take now!’
With me raigh-full doo-full daddely diddle-um dee.

‘Which of my family do you like best?’
‘Your wife, of course – she’s well-known in Hell!’

‘Take her away with all of me heart –
For twenty long years she’s broken my heart!’

So the Devil he hoisted her up on his back
Through fields and meadows he went awful far

He never stopped til he came to Coote Hill
‘Put me down, put me down me water to spill!’

They never stopped til they came to Hell’s gate1
She jumped on a thorn(?), she battered his face

One little devil jumped up on a wall
‘Take her away! Take her away! She’ll batter us all!

So the Devil he hoisted her up on his back
He was nine days going, one day coming back

The Devil he staggered coming up the lane2
With a battering ram he pulled on the chain(?)

She came to the old man in the bed3
She lifted the pan and she smashed in his head

Then she ran away over the hill
‘If the Devil won’t have me, I wonder who will?’

Now they say that the women are worse than the men:
When they go to Hell, they’re kicked out again!

It’s not fair, is it?


Some variant readings from another performance (UW85-54.16):

1 They never stopped til they came to Hell’s wall
She jumped on his back and she scolded them all

2 The old man looked through a crack in the wall
He saw the old Devil stagger and fall

3 The old woman came to the man in the bed
She lifted a chair and she smashed in his head

Unfortunately, UW85-54.16 is not as good in terms of sound quality but it makes better sense of some of the lines here and, incidentally, shows the process of Joe’s aural memory at work: if the words don’t come, make up something on the fly that more-or-less fits the bill!