The Barley Mow

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For the pub on the River Thames in England, see The Barley Mow, Clifton Hampden.

The Barley Mow (Roud 944) is a cumulative song celebrated in the traditions of the folk music of Ireland, England, and Scotland.[1] William Chappell transcribed the lyrics in his two-volume work The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time (1855).

"The Barley Mow" has become a drinking song sung while comrades empty their glasses. In one "Barley Mow" drinking game, any participant who fails to sing the song's (progressively expanding) refrain in a single breath must drink. In another, participants drink just after singing the second line in each verse ("Good luck to the barley mow"); if one's glass is not empty by the final verse, one must finish the drink after singing the line.

A barley mow is a stack (mow) of barley, especially barley that was cultivated and then harvested. Barley is a grain that is commonly malted for brewing beer.

The Canadian chain of public houses owned by Jason Curry are named after this song.[citation needed]

Lyrics[edit]

The verses of "The Barley Mow" wish good luck to various sizes of vessels of alcoholic beverages, and lastly to the barley mow, a venerable reserve of one of beer's key ingredients. Later verses supplement this list with roles and occupations associated with beer, from brewing, to distribution, to serving in public houses, to drinking. Each verse wishes good luck to a new subject, which is then added to the beginning of the litany recited in the second line of the refrain.

The song has several variations. One version begins thus:

First verse
Here's good luck to the pint pot
Good luck to the barley mow
Jolly good luck to the pint pot
Good luck to the barley mow
First refrain
Oh the pint pot, half a pint, gill pot, half a gill, quarter gill, nipperkin, and a round bowl
Here's good luck (good luck!), good luck to the barley mow
Second verse
Now here's good luck to the quart pot
Good luck to the barley mow
Jolly good luck to the quart pot
Good luck to the barley mow
Second refrain
Oh the quart pot, pint pot, half a pint, gill pot, half a gill, quarter gill, nipperkin, and a round bowl
Here's good luck (good luck!), good luck to the barley mow

Eleven verses later, this ultimate stanza and refrain conclude this version of the song:

Thirteenth verse
Now here's good luck to the company
Good luck to the barley mow
Jolly good luck to the company
Good luck to the barley mow
Thirteenth refrain
Oh, the company, brewer, bookie (or cooper), slavey, drayer, daughter, landlady, landlord, barrel, half-barrel, gallon, half-gallon, quart pot, pint pot, half a pint, gill pot, half a gill, quarter gill, nipperkin, and a round bowl
Here's good luck (good luck!), good luck to the barley mow

The 12 terms between landlord and round bowl are English units—particularly units used to measure the volume of alcoholic beverages. These are sung in descending order from largest (barrel) to smallest (round bowl). Round bowl (sometimes sung brown bowl) indicates either a humble, wooden bowl, or a person's hands cupped together into the shape of a bowl.

Company refers to the party of people gathered together singing the song. A slavey is a female servant. A drayer is a person who transports heavy loads of goods (such as barrels of beer) in a type of horse-drawn cart called a dray. Daughter refers to the barmaid or serveuse in a family-owned public house.

Legacy[edit]

There is a Barley Mow Brewing Company in Largo, Florida.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Barley Mow". English Folk Dance and Song Society. English Folk Dance and Song Society. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 

Sources[edit]