The Rattlin' Bog

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The Rattlin' Bog is an Irish folk song about a bog on the grounds of Collon Monastery, Collon, Co Louth in the Boyne Valley. Specifically In the woodlands of Collon Scout Campsite. Hence the popularity around the scouting campfire throughout Ireland. Mystically the legend says that the hole itself breathes and consumes all manner of things. The adjective rattlin' is an abbreviation of 'rattling', which, in the context of this song, means 'splendid'. The song is a cumulative song, similar to The Twelve Days of Christmas, as it has a list at the end of each verse which grows throughout the piece. In some performances of the song, the speed is constantly increased, in the same way that The Sailor's Hornpipe is sometimes played. There is some variation in how the lyrics are documented. Some versions record the first word of the chorus as either 'Oh' or 'Ho' or just 'O' followed by the second word as either 'ro' or 'row'. Sometimes the second part of the chorus is sung with the same lyrics as the first part, other times is replaced with 'Rare Bog, the Rattlin' Bog, the Bog Down in the Valley-oh'. Since it is a folk song, it has been transmitted over generations orally and aurally so all these versions coexist and it may be impossible and even nonsensical to seek a single authoritative version of the song's lyrics.


During a performance, it is typical for the song to increase in speed with each additional verse, almost as a challenge to determine who can sing the lyrics the fastest without getting mixed up.

Some performances have one singer leading the song, singing the Now on that... lines solo. The whole group then joins in for the cumulative list and chorus. In some live performances, the audience sings along for as long as they can keep up, with most only singing the chorus by the end of the song.

Many variations exist where additional verses are added or exchanged to suit the locale where the song is performed. North American folk group The Idlers customarily sing about a bird inside an egg inside another bird that is in the nest, while others have a bird in the egg in the nest. Additionally, the group added a rash on the flea as a final verse. Renowned County Durham folk singer Ed Pickford added further verses going as far as an amoeba, in the process creating a popular drinking game as players try to keep up. Seamus Kennedy added even further by following an amoeba with a paramecium, followed by a virus, and finally a subatomic particle.

The song can be sung as an echo, where each line is sung by a lead and then repeated by others.

  • Golden Bough performs this on their album Kids at Heart: Celtic Songs for Children.
  • Authority Zero performs this on their album Andiamo (hidden track).
  • Red Grammer performs this on his Down The Do Re Mi recording.