The highland lads are come to town and landed in headquarters
The colonel fell for a pretty little girl a farmer’s only daughter
The general bet five thousand pounds the colonel wouldn’t dress up in a beggar’s gown
And she’ll travel the world go round and round will she go with the rambling siúler.
The colonel started out next day dressed in a beggar’s clothing
It wasn’t long till he found his way to the farmer’s lowly dwelling
O farmer shelter me for the night I’ll sleep in your barn until daylight
Take pity on a beggar’s awful plight. God help all rambling siúlers.
The farmer says the night is wet you can come to the kitchen fire
The colonel says to the serving maid it’s you I do admire
Will you leave them all and come with me, leave them all a gra mo chroi
What a lusty beggar you would be away with the rambling siúler
The farmer and his servants all they fell into loud laughter
When who came tripping down the stairs but the farmer’s only daughter
she’s two blue eyes like the morning skies, soon as the beggar he did her spy
She fairly caught his rambling eye, she’ll be mine says the rambling siúler.
The farmer and his servants all they went out to the byre
He put his arm around her waist as they sat by the kitchen fire
He put his hand upon her knee unto her gave kisses three
Says she how dare you make so free and it’s you but a rambling siúler.
When supper it was over-o they made his bed in the barn
Between two sacks and a winnow cloth for fear that he’d do harm
But at 12 o’clock that very night she came to the barn she was dressed in white
The beggar rose in great delight, she’s mine says the rambling siúler.
And he threw off his beggar’s clothes, he threw them against the wall-o
He stood the bravest gentleman that was amongst them all-o
Will you look at my locks of golden hair under the sooty old hat I wear
I’m a colonel bold I do declare and it’s not but a rambling siúler.
And I wouldn’t for one hundred pounds that you and I would be found here
Will you travel around the whole night long and go with the rambling siúler
Oh it’s off to the General’s house they’ve gone, great is the wager he has won
Salute them both with the fife and the drum she’s away with the rambling siúler.
The Rambling siúler was collected in the North of Ireland by Sam Henry and is obviously Scottish in origin. Once again a fatal fascination for beggars brings ultimate reward to the farmer’s daughter (how did they do it?) An unlikely tale, this, but we like the colonel-come-beggar’s cunning in the third verse where he feigns interest in the serving girl, presumably to convince the farmer that he wasn’t going to try and get off with his daughter.
“The Rambling Siúler” is another song from Sam Henry’s collection, Songs of the People, where it is listed under entry H183.
“The Rambling Sailor was collected in the North of Ireland by Sam Henry and is obviously Scottish in origin. Once again a fatal fascination for beggars brings ultimate reward to the farmer’s daughter (how did they do it?). An unlikely tale, this, but we like the colonel – come-beggar’s cunning in the third verse where he feigns interest in the serving girl, presumably to convince that he wasn’t going to try and get off with his daughter.” – Andy Irvine
Irvine explains: “If songs about girls dressing up as men are commonplace, songs about Gentlemen dressing up as beggars occur quite frequently also.”