The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside ballad entitled 'Dorrn's Ass'


Verse 1 begins: 'One Paddy Doyle lived near Killearney, / He courted a maid called Biddy Toole'.

As with many broadside lyrics this a humorous and gentle warning on the subject of love, which would probably have been instantly recognisable to most of the audience. Paddy had a few doubts about marriage despite his overwhelming love for Biddy. After a night of binge drinking with the boys, however, he collapsed and dreamt of Biddy. He thought he was cuddling into her but, upon awaking, realised he had really been rolled up next to the neighbour's ass. Horrified and mortified, he ran straight home to patient and understanding Biddy, and proposed marriage!

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

previous pageprevious          
Probable period of publication: 1850-1870   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(070)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Dorrn's Ass'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland