Boys' Games

AuthorJohn Johnson Marshall
Date1924
SourcePopular Rhymes and Sayings of Ireland
Section Chapter XIV

Amongst the boys’ games that have fallen into disuse was one named “Brogey More,” which was sung to the beautiful old Irish air. “The Rose Tree,” to which Thomas Moore set the words “I’d mourn the hopes that leave me.”

The game was played as follows:—one boy stood with his back to the wall, a second one stooped and placed his head against the other one’s chest, while all the rest stood round the stooping boy. Each was given a name which was rather picturesque, such as “Brogey More,” “Singey Gore,” “Oule’ Grey Rat,” “Pot an’ Pan,” etc., etc.

The origin of these names is unknown. Having all been named the leader started the following doggerel rhyme, the others all joining in and singing to the tune mentioned:—

“Lay on him ‘Brogey More,’

With yer fa-re-a-raddy O!

And likewise ‘Singey Gore,’

With yer fa-re-a-raddy O!”

Whilst this was going on, the boys were “laying on,” with their fists on the back of the stooping boy, and keeping time to the music. The game was to puzzle the players as to when to lay on and leave off, and the one named had to be on the alert that he made no mistake, for if he did he had to pay a penalty of taking the place of the stooping boy. Then the rhyme went on:—

“Lay on him ‘Pot an’ Pan.’

With yer fa-re-a-raddy O!

Take off him every one,

With yer fa-re-a-ready O!

Lay on him ‘Oul’ Gray Rat,’

With yer fa-re-a-raddy O!

Take off him ‘Brogey More’

With yer fa-re-a-raddy O!

Lay on him ‘Brogey More,’

With yer fa-re-a-raddy O!

And likewise ‘Singey Gore,”

With yer fa-re-a-raddy O!

Lay on him ‘Pot an’ Pan.’

With yer fa-re-a-raddy O!”

Another boys’ game that used to be played was “Hurley Burley.”

This was also played by one boy standing with his back against the wall; another stoops and puts his head against his chest, another takes his place behind the stooping boy, while the leader recites the following rhyme:—

“Hurley, Burley! trump a trace;

The cow ran from the market place,

Some go far and some go near—

Where shall this poor Frenchman steer?”

The stooping boy tells him to go to “Paddy Gaw’s Corner.” The Frenchman then goes to his station, about fifty yards distant. The same ceremony is gone through and another boy is sent to “Wilson’s Grocery;” another up “Eakin’s Entry,” and so on till all the boys have been sent to different stations. The leader then shouts—“Are you all in your places?”

Waiting a moment for their reply, he then calls out, “Hurley home; hurley home: hurley home.” The race then commences as to who shall get home first. The last one in has to pay a penalty, and so he is surrounded, and each one taking a lock of his hair, all repeat together:—

“Rannell him, Dick;

Catch him Davey,

All the men, three score and ten,

Anyone not at the rannelling match

Will be rannelled over again;

Heigh ho; buttermilk, oh;

Short pluck, or long draw?”

The unfortunate victim answers “short pluck,” when his tormentors give his hair a pluck and he is released.

Next Christmas Games
Previous Rhymes for Singing Games
Contents Popular Rhymes and Sayings of Ireland
CategorySocial History

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