Donagh MacDonagh


Marks Mongan A young and romantic tinker.
Nora Melody A girl of eighteen.
John Melody Her father, a hard-faced, hard-headed Mayo gombeenman or usurious trader.
Mary Melody His wife, and excessively vague lady
Harry Ward First tinker.
Petronious Ward Second tinker.
Molly Ward Third tinker.
Meg Ward Fourth tinker.
Adolph Ward Fifth tinker.
Sergeant Dethe

Guard Moriarty

Guard Bansha

Officers of the civic guard.

Mogue Ward A tinker.
Betsy Connors A fine strapping girl of about 19.
Balor of the Evil Eye A mythological person
Tinkers, idlers, etc.
Scene: The little Mayo village of Knockaderry

Time: The present


Act I

Scene I

Outside the house of John Melody. It is shortly after midday on Saint John's Eve, a fine Summer day. The house is whitewashed with red painted windows and doors; there is a small shop window and above it a bedroom window can be seen. In the distance can be seen the pyramid of Croagh Patrick. Enter a band of tinkers who dance gaily, and then sing, to the tune of "The Rakes of Mallow":-
1st. Tinker: If all the tinkers now in town

Could pool their wealth and smelt it down

In whiskey every man would drown

From now to Easter Sunday.

Chorus: Laughing, cheering, dancing, drinking,

Breaking windows, cursing, winking

Always happy, never thinking

From now to Easter Sunday.

2nd. Tinker: If every tinker that you meet

On road or bohereen or in street

Could choose if he would drink or eat

He'd drink till Easter Sunday.

3rd. Tinker: If all the cans that he has sold

Were overflowing with bright gold

He'd buy no miserly leasehold -

He'd drink till Easter Sunday.

4th. Tinker: Had he the wealth that Damer had

He'd spend it like a decent lad

In making other tinkers glad

From this to Easter Sunday.

5th. Tinker: So if a tinker you should meet

Don't pass by looking at your feet,

Invite him in and stand a treat,

He'll stand on Easter Monday.

They all dance again and dance off the stage. Nora melody, a young girl of seventeen or eighteen comes to the door, and a young tinker, Marks Mongan, a lad of about twenty, goes towards her.
Marks: My mother is dying, my mother is dead.

Will you buy a good can, Miss; I'm ashamed for to beg.

Nora: And what would I do with a glittering can

Would rust in the night, will you sell me a pan?

Marks: I haven't a can and I haven't a pan;

Sure, to talk to yourself was the whole of my plan.

Nora: A dirty young tinker to talk to the daughter

Of respectable people would surely cause slaughter.

Marks: But it wasn't on talk I was really intent

For a kiss in the corner's my best argument.

Nora: I'll call a policeman, I'll call for the priest

To restrain such wild talk. Tomorrow's the feast

Of holy Saint John, and tonight as you know

The bonfires at corners will redden and glow;

At the thought of this holy and blessed event

On your prayers, not on kisses you should be intent.

Marks: Tonight's the night when bonfires glow

From end to end of sweet Mayo,

When lads heap turf at each crossroad

When girls come bent beneath a load

Of firing, when the heart is burning

And when the coldest heart is yearning

For something that the fires bring in.

On Saint John's Eve there is no sin.

Nora: I'm sure Saint John was a holy man,

Unlike the lads who mend a can.

Marks: Saint John was holy, but he's dead.

About a girl he lost his head.

Nora: Poor man, no doubt she tempted him

With painted mouth and lavish limb.

Marks: Saint John was a man with a mission

He lived in a very poor way

He ate locusts, I'm told, for his breakfast

And drank water, neat, for his tay.

He was preaching hellfire and damnation

And company keeping he banned

No dance license ever was granted

When Saint John was abroad on the land.

For dancing, he thought, was unholy,

A shocking occasion of sin

He advised the young men of the country

To avoid anything feminine.

Now, there was a young one called Salome

A devil to dance and to sing

And she took a great liking to Saint John

So, she went to her father, the king.

"If I dance, will you give me a present?"

Says she and the old lad agrees,

So she started to dance like an angel

And the king sitting back at his ease.

"Very nice," says your man when she's winded,

"Very nice, and now what will you have?"

"Oh Daddy dear, give me Saint John

That lovely young man, for me slave."

"Fair enough," says the king, "you can have him."

But Saint John, being a saint, says "No fear!"

So Salome was mad and her father

Says "Right, you can cut off his ear."

"No, no," says Salome "his head please"

So she danced with his head round the court

And bonfires on John's Eve remind us

That dancing is dangerous sport.

Nora: And we are warned by each turf fire

Against the glow of lewd desire.

Marks: Tonight's the night when Summer's in

Each bulb, each bud, each heart, each limb,

When messages from stars and moon

Draw butterflies from ribbed cocoon,

When birds sing love songs and the earth

Goes singing at the year's new birth.

Come with me where the fires are bright

And learn a Summer song tonight.

Nora: But father....
Marks: He need never know.
Nora: My mother....
Marks: Bonfires are aglow.

When I have whistled twice like this.....

He whistles like a wildbird

Leave your room and seek my kiss.

Nora turns away from him and speaks, half to herself, half so that he can hear her.
Nora: A dirty tinker, meanly clad,

A lewd and vicious wandering lad

A lad without an honest penny

A lad who never worked for any

A lad without a roof to keep

Us safe from robbers when we sleep -

What do I say? Why 'us'?, Why 'we'?

When I should only speak of 'he'?

A lad, I was about to say,

Would earn a thrashing any day

By making love to such as I

A lad who has a wandering eye

A lad no doubt has girls in scores

From here to Connemara's shores

And little fellows lisping, "Ma,

Why did I never see my da?"

A lad without a farm or cows

A tinker who delights in rows

A lad no doubt has done a stretch

A featureless and feckless wretch

How could I ever love a lad

So low, so lewd, so meanly clad?

Marks: Why should I court a little piece

As colourless as candlegrease

With hair so neatly combed; the skin

Scrubbed till the natural oils begin

To dry up; with her little feet

Cramped into high heeled shoes. The sweet

Abundance of her breast is crammed in

Some draper's dodge of silk or satin.

How could a lass the like of her

Resign the rows of silk and fur,

Exchange the featherbed for straw

Or heather and the load guffaw

Of tinker laughter in the night -

Ah, but that lass would be a sight

In scarlet petticoat and shawl

Of fawney wool; she'd overhaul

Her life and be a natural woman

Unwashed, unshod, unpainted, common

As fuchsia, and as freshly tinted

As crocus trumpet, brightly minted.

Nora, like Marks, speaks half aside, half direct.
Nora: And so he'd have me as a slut

Uncared for as a hazel nut

As brown, as common and as hard...

Marks: (Speaking directly to her)
No, smelling sweetly as spikenard

Or woodbine or the rose's bloom....

Nora: And I without a bed or room....
Marks: The great room of the world, the bed

Of earth, and love for your bedspread.

Nora: I think its time for us to part

Something's murmuring in my heart.

Marks: Tonight, unwitnessed, let me prove

The worlds best bedspread can be love.

Nora: I'm sure its wrong.
Marks: I'm sure its right

You'll see Salome dance tonight.

Enter Nora's father, John Melody, a cantankerous gombeenman.
John: Ah, ha! My daughter talks to a ragged

Haggard, laggard, bedraggled vaga-

Bond. (To Marks) Get out of my haggard

And out of the county or by the Lord's bounty

You'll be dragged like the hag on the tail of a cart,

Ragged, nagged and scragged till the spring of your heart

Is snapped and you sag like a tinker's ragbag.

Marks: Oh, we're mighty and strong with the strength of the cashbox

The bank pillars behinds us, the peelers and judges

To bolster us up in our own estimation

Ah, take of the gold chain that moors your fat belly

To the till and the counter and meet man to man.

With one hand I'll maul you and leave you fit only

To be fed to the greyhounds. One word and I'll mark you

And leave on your visage a warning to gombeens

From this up to Doomsday.

John: Oh send for the guards, the chief superintendent

The important inspector. I'll swear information

I've been frightened and threatened

Abused and assaulted and more that this tinker

Was guilty of conduct I'll prove calculated

To lead to a breach of the peace of this nation.

Oh, God give me patience.

Nora: (Urgently, in a low voice)

Now go before my father has

A stroke or apoplexy,

Before he bursts a vessel

Or his brain-pan bursts in flames;

For God's sake go and leave him so

And leave this peaceful county; your a menace and a torment

With your games.

Marks: (Quietly) Since you ask me so politely,

Since your eyes are full of pleading,

Since your lips are red and pleasing,

I'll not murder this old devil

Or kick him in the belly,

So tell him there's no need for such alarm.

John: (Who must be a bit deaf not to have heard)

By the lord of my country

I'll see that your poleaxed

And banjaxed, your knickknacks and budget

Your packs and your sacks will be thrown to the wind

And your broken down hacks will be skinned

For the knacker. So, foot it you slacker.

Marks: You ugly lump of merchandise,

You blot on Ireland's paradise,

You broken winded selling-plater,

You misbegotten parish prater,

You overweening understrapper,

I'll take my tongs and pull the clapper

Out of your rattling, rambling head

And leave you dead.

Enter Mary Melody, Nora's mother, an excessively vague old lady.
Mary: Ah, one of the tinkers come selling his tinware

Now John, don't be naughty, abusing the young lad,

If it wasn't for them the cans and the kettles,

The pans and the boilers would be all gone like riddles.

John: Out of my sight you blasted tramp

Let you and all of your tribe decamp.

Mary: Don't mind John at all, he's hasty and gusty,

A flatulent man, but he's one of the nicest

And decentest men. And he's very religious.

Marks: He's been praying for me ma'am.
Mary: And I thought you were fighting.
John: No more of this nonesense; get out of the county

Or by the Lord's bounty....

Marks: There! He's praying again ma'am.
John: Oh, give me my stick, my big black stick,

Till I batter and pound him till he's sick,

Till I maul him and murder him, hit him a kick,

Harry and hound him. Come on, my black stick.

Mary comes out of the house with a large blackthorn stick.
Mary: Now John, don't be hasty, remember the doctor said

Temper is bad for your poor indigestion.

John: I'll lam and lambaste him and make him eat stick.
Marks: I'll not fight my father-in-law. I best be gone quick.
He runs off, John hard after him.
Mary: Why can't your father be like me.

Placid, reposeful, staid and calm?

What has the young man done to him

That he should wish him harm?

Nora: They must have had some words about

The mending of a pan or pot.

Mary: Stop staring down the road, I' sure

The nice young tinker needs no crutch -

But if your father murders him

Its better not to see too much.

Don't cry, I'm sure your father's safe.

Come in and help me with the dishes.

She goes into the house. Nora prepares to follow her.
Nora: I'll not come to him if he whistles;

The nuns would call such conduct vicious.

  • She follows her mother into the house. The tinkers re-enter in a few seconds.
1st Tinker:
  • Sings to the tune of "Come listen to my story Molly Bawn"
Oh, the sugar and the tea twist and the bread

The chicken and the duckling for the pot

The potatoes and the carrots and the onions from the garden,

Oh, who wouldn't be a tinker when its hot?

2nd Tinker: The nightshirt from the clothesline or the hedge

The blanket from the cupboard or the cot

The pony from the stable, the bottle from the table,

Oh, who wouldn't be a tinker when its hot?

3rd Tinker: The daughter of the woman from the man,

The truncheon from the bobby when your caught,

The bacon from the chimney, the porter from the sheebeen,

Oh, who wouldn't be a tinker when its hot?

4th. Tinker: The woodbine from the hedgerows and the lanes,

The fair green and organ's gay gavotte,

The love making in the haystacks when the stars are bright as tapers

Oh, who wouldn't be a tinker when its hot?

3rd. Tinker: Tonight's the night when bonfires glow,

To night, brave tinkers, let us show

That we're the masters of Mayo.

4th Tinker: We'll burst the bars and shutters.
5th. Tinker: We'll batter down the door.
1st. Tinker: We'll clear the gold and silver.
2nd. Tinker: We'll ransack and explore.
3rd. Tinker: Whatever has been nailed down

We'll leave, but what is loose

Belongs by right to tinkers.

4th. Tinker: And we're tinkers on the loose.
5th. Tinker: We're tinkers on the loose, my boys,

We're tinkers on the loose,

The rightful owners of the land -

And may I introduce......

1st. Tinker: I'm Larry Ward, a nimble lad,

A lad with taste for women O,

The flash of Petticoat or shawl

Can set my heart a swimming O.

2nd. Tinker: Petronious Ward. It's my belief

that tinker lads should rule by right,

For only they know why the fires

Are lit that will be red tonight.

Though men who live in houses say

Tonight's the feast of headless John

We know that Balor rules the fires

From Ballina to Babylon.

3rd. Tinker: I'm Molly Ward; I've great regard,

Although I know it's mostly cod,

For Balor of the Evil Eye,

That poor old heathen, beaten god.

4th. Tinker: Meg Ward. I wouldn't be too sure

That Balor's power has petered out;

A god for whom so many fires

Are lit up may be still about.

5th. Tinker: I'm Adolph Ward and I don't know

Or care if Balor knows or cares.

To work. To spy. To search about

Before we're taken unawares.

  • As he speaks the following lines he directs the other tinkers to search in and around the house, and they scurry hither and thither.
Examine every window.

Make friends with every dog.

Test every bar and shutter,

We come tonight to rob.

Go in and buy a candle,

See where the money's hid,

Look into every cash box,

And lift up every lid.

Be silent as the brown mouse,

Ubiquitous as flies -

Tonight when all are sleeping

Your fingers must be eyes.

  • The other tinkers return to report.
1st. Tinker: There are bars on every window.
2nd. Tinker: And bolts on every door.
3rd. Tinker: There's a safe would hold a bullock

And its bolted to the floor.

4th. Tinker: He must be rich as Guinness

This scrubby gombeenman.

5th. Tinker: Tonight we'll liberate his wealth

And spend it while we can.

  • Enter John Melody.
John: More and more tinkers, the stinkers.

Are you bred like good Christians

In bed? Or is it you come

By the heat of the sun, like maggots?

If I were the Lord (and may He be adored),

I'd see that you breed but one year in three;

And even at that, I suppose, like rats

You'd have litters of whey headed, tow headed

Hay headed, straw headed red headed brats.

5th. Tinker: I know you're the famous and generous patron

Of traveling men, the great seed potato

Who gives his own eyes to replenish the nation.

Oh, your fame's gone before you, the tinkers adore you

And men who once saw you remember you always

And talk of the liberal hand of Jon Melody.

But you're hated by misers who know that they're judged

By your princely, your handsome, your famed hospitality.

John: If flattering lies could be cashed like pound notes

All the tinkers of Ireland would be dressed in fur coats.

And now, out of my sight, the policemen are coming

To race you and chase you, efface you,

Man, woman and brat, mongrel and cat,

Ass, mule and jennet and fiddle backed hack,

Caravan, car, spring cart and ass trap.

5th. Tinker The famous flight of Moses when himself and all his tribe

Crossed dry-shod through the Red Sea will be nothing to our flight.

We're a very timid people, so in fear we say goodbye.

Pray for us Mr. Melody when you go to bed tonight.

  • The tinkers go, singing to the tune of "The Orange Lily O".
Then heigh-ho the tinkers O

The swilling, willing drinkers O

Beneath the sky, what man can vie

With the man who loves the tinkers O.

John: Good work, good riddance, now we're free

From tinker vice and villainy,

I swear the next one that I see

Will get a bloody end from me.

  • He turns complacently to go, swinging his blackthorn stick when he is arrested by a screech of satiric laughter from the departing tinkers. He shakes the stick in their direction.
Laugh while you can - tonight you'll be maimed,

Shamed, blamed, proclaimed, inflamed.

Oh, little you know that tonight will be famed

As the night when the tinkers of Mayo were tamed.

  • End of Act I, Scene I.
Scene 2.
  • The same scene, late that evening. The Summer night has not quite come, but the figure of Marks, who leans against a fence to the left, is only dimly seen at first. Later when a window is lit on the first floor a spot illuminates his face.
Marks: Day entertains the birds for a last fling,

Presses the last drink, the road drink, on its guests,

Urges that birds on one wing never flew.

Soon now the dusk will soften all, will smudge

The hill line, swarm within the trees, and soon

The perches, footlights, floats of fire will grow

Undimmed, and amber spots of turf fire flow.

Here in the thickening darkness I will wait

A signal from the oldest god of all.

  • A light is lit in the upper window, lighting his face.
And there it is, the lighthouse of my fate;

I'll dash against it like a migrant bird.

And there she is, shining in the lamplight,

Dimming the lamp, lighting the room, all bright

With youth and radiance. Now she combs her hair

And the long sparks short circuit in my heart.

Ah, strip the blouse and petticoat, room, house and all

Down from that body and sober men will swear

A new moon, a brighter silver moon reflects

A brighter sun, astonishing Mayo.

What should I call her in this twisted tongue

Of strangers - darling or dearest, precious or my sweet?

Ah, had I Spanish, French or sweet Italian

Or draughts of Irish from the islandmen

I'd serenade her surely - but I think

She wouldn't understand a single word.

No. A pinch on the bottom, a cuddle in the corner,

A quick kiss in the hallway, a giggle in the dark,

"Go on, your making fun of me, Oh stop, I'll call my mother.

I'll scream! Oh don't, your terrible," would be closer to the mark.

But no. See where she's shining, a moon through pearly night clouds

Pure frost on early windows, glittering dew on cobwebs,

A star seen from a well shaft - what language could beguile her?

Not these poor cheapjack knickknacks. O Balor, lend me light words

To win that bright night wonder. But first, I'll borrow bird song.

  • He whistles like a wild bird.
No answer. Were she henbird she'd see my brake tail feathers

The bright comb of my cockship.

  • He whistles again.
My curse on scheming women who lead young lads to danger -

I wonder if I sang hymns or beat a Mea Culpa

Would I come any closer to that cold heart?

  • He whistles again, this time like an American soldier.
There that's the note to fetch her, the Marshall Aid to lovers.
Nora: Who is that in the night whistles underneath my window?
Marks: It is one that from thy sight

Being, ah, exiled, disdeigneth

Every other common sight.

Nora: Speak softly, softly, the night grows late.

Where have you borrowed these fine words from?

Marks: From some old book that lives again

Because there's beauty shining bright

For the first time since it was young.

Nora: Speak softly, softly, the neighbours hear

A whisper that passes from pillow to pillow.

Why do you melt into shadows there?

Marks: Whisper a word and I'll come to your pillow.
Nora: Why do you come when my father hates you

And hates all men who are homeless and landless?

Marks: Because, though he hates me, I love his daughter

The mariner's star of the landless and homeless.

Nora: The priest and the bishop, the pope in his palace,

Denounce you, renounce you and all your bad scheming.

They know that young girls must beware of night walkers,

Bad companions and thoughts best confined to their dreaming.

Marks: If you slip past your parents and come to my arms now

I'll show you a world all bewildered with starlight,

And studded with dreams like a white Easter candle.

Nora: My father and mother are out, so be quiet

Or gossip will spancel me to a low tinker.

Marks: Their out! (he raises his voice) Then while those cats are prowling and growling

Let the mice have a fling - will you come to the bower?

  • He sings to the tune of "Come to the Bower"
Will you come to the bower through the bog and the heather,

To the fires where the boys and girls are met together,

Where the dancing board's laid down, where accordion and fiddle

Are gayer than the poteen with their merry tarra-diddle,

Will you come, will you, will you, will you come to the bower?

You can drink tea or porter and eat scallions while your able,

Your seat is the bogland and the heather is your table,

The moon for a lamp and the little stars above you

And a young man at your elbow to encourage, kiss and love you

Will you come, will you, will you, will you come to the bower?

You can dance jigs or reels or the half set or the lancers

And you'll shine in the midst of the fairest of the dancers;

Will you sing like the blackbird on the highest branch of morning

Or whisper words of love when the holy day is dawning?

Will you come, will you, will you, will you come to the bower?

Will you come to the bower since the sun that old reprover

Has gone to his bed, left the world to lass and lover,

Since the stars wait to deck you and the moon comes out to greet you,

Will you come from your room, life and love are here to meet you?

Will you come, will you, will you, will you come to the bower?

Nora: I might come down and I might come out,

But the front door and back door are tight shut

As they always are when there's tinkers about.

Marks: Love laughs at fathers and locksmiths too.
  • He sees a ladder and puts it to the window.
And thanks to the stage hand who left this ladder

Ready here for what's to do.

  • The stage is illuminated by pale moonlight.
And see, the moon, prompt on her cue.
  • Nora descends on the ladder.
Nora: Such little wisdom as I had

Has flown out of my giddy head.

  • Marks receives her into his arms as she jumps from the last rungs of the ladder. He takes her into his arms and kisses her.
Marks: There, the first and sweetest kiss.
Nora: Whatever I may tell the priest

I'll never tell my children this.

  • Hand in hand, they run off the stage. After a moment or two a sergeant of the guards and two guards enter.
Sergeant: There are some suspicious characters

That's known to the police

1st Guard: Convictions and convictions and convictions.
Sergeant: All capable of conduct which

Might breach the civil peace.

2nd. Guard: Itinerants, Itinerants, Itinerants.
Sergeant: No fixed abode, no dwelling place,

No wealth and no possessions,

Disorderly while drinking and

Red-handed in aggressions,

A rowdy, bowsey, lousy gang

Who refuse to sign confessions.

1st. Guard: Iniquity, iniquity, iniquity.
Sergeant: Thank God they've left this neighborhood

Where men can live in peace.

2nd. Guard: No larceny, no larceny, no larceny.
Sergeant: If there's any crime, the last to hear

Are always the police.

1st. Guard: No battery, no battery, no battery.
Sergeant: If dogs aren't licensed or the bikes

go out without reflectors

If animals should wander or

The road be full of specters

There's no one comes to bother us -

They know we're their protectors.

2nd Guard: Implacable, implacable, implacable.
Sergeant: Each night we take a gentle walk

We call it our patrol,

1st. Guard: The neighborhood is peaceful so

We seldom see a soul.

2nd. Guard: I wonder why has Melody that ladder?
Sergeant: On the whole

I shouldn't trouble, trouble,

Let's continue with our stroll

No doubt he has a reason

And why bother since our goal

1st. Guard: Is amity, is amity, is amity.
  • They go and almost immediately the tinkers enter.
5th. Tinker: Now quick, the old man's gone for once to town,

His wife gone with him. Mogue, you climb the ladder.

  • Mogue climbs.
Open up the doors and windows and, like Summer flies

We'll swarm through every chink, clear out the house

And when he comes again he'll surely think

The fairies have been active. God bless old Melody's

Vindictive heart, the first shilling that he ever took

Is prisoner still, his usury has sucked

The red gold out of the county's heart

And gathered it, a blood bank for anemic

Tinkers. Oh, there's the gold injection will do

Good, will bloat our veins and set the pulse

To beating like a costly eight day clock.

  • he calls through the keyhole.
Mogue, are you there? Can you not draw the bolts?
Mogue: Its bolted, barred and sealed like Noah's Ark.
5th. Tinker: Well then unseal it and let the animals

In two by two. Hurry you fool, the moon

Drenches me through my rags. I feel conspicuous

As Patrick's mountain.

  • There are sounds of the bolts being drawn within.
Ah, that's the lad. Now boys

And girls be like the Summer bees and suck

The honey out of this full blown, bursting flower.

  • The tinkers enter with a rush and then come back, one by one, with their exhibits which they place on a handcart.
1st. Tinker: A hank of onion, is that any use? And thyme?
5th. Tinker: Grand. It will flavour rabbit and borrowed hen.
2nd. Tinker: And pills?
5th. Tinker: Yes. Nature might slam her door through overeating.
3rd. Tinker: A chamberpot?
5th. Tinker: There's grandeur for a tinker! Has it been used?
3rd. Tinker: The label on it still says "Made in England".
5th. Tinker: Then leave it

And get an Irish one; we must support

Our native manufacture.

4th. Tinker: There's stout and ale and porter, whiskey and gin,

Sherry and port wine, brandy, cider, rum.

5th. Tinker:
  • Sings to the tune of "Goodbye Mike".
Good fellows let us drink tonight

As no man drank since Bacchus

The sky will be our cocktail jug

The lakes and seas our glasses.

  • Chorus
And when the sun comes up again

And sees the mighty slaughter

He'll say "The worlds gone roaring drunk,

They should have stuck to porter."

The merchant and the excise man

And all who live in houses

Will be our footstools and the hills

Our seats through our carousals.

  • Chorus
We'll pour the brandy, gin and rum,

The whiskey and the sherry

Down gullets thirstier than sand

And all die drunk and merry.

  • Chorus
Then burn the corks and pour the liquor,

Empty all the bottles,

You'll get no chance once life is past

So pour it down your throttles.

2nd. Tinker: There's nothing in the till but holy medals.
5th. Tinker: Leave those and try the safe. Say "Open Sesame"

And see what happens.

  • There's a rusty groan from within as the safe opens.
1st. Tinker: Its open now and loaded

With gold, with silver, paper notes

And copper. But I fear its mostly copper.

5th. Tinker: Take all that fits into the bag, but spare

The copper. Never leave a man you rob

Completely destitute. He might despair

Go out of business and leave our sons without

An easy haul when times are getting bad.

Out now. Mogue, bring the handcart, load it up.

The sooner we're away from this bright sky

The sooner safe. We'll hide our little treasure

Where the distillers hide the poteen still.

Now, march. And may our road be all downhill.

  • Exeunt omnes. After a moment, John and Mary Melody enter.
John: And now the house is safe, for angel hordes

With fiery swords guard every door and window;

The cherubim and seraphim march round

And sound their trumpets that only the bat can hear.

Mark, Luke and John and Matthew dropped their pens

And ran to sit above there on the eaves;

And Michael himself, who singed our parents when

They tried to enter feloniously, will keep

The tinkers out of my little paradise.

Mary: But all you did was say a prayer or two.
John: I paid the premium on my insurance,

Recklessly lighting candles at every shrine

Till the whole chapel blazed with pennyworths

To every saint that ever worked a demi-

Semi miracle. Tonight they'll throng

Like football crowds to earn their candle's worth.

Let's celebrate our safety generously,

Go in and fry a sausage for my supper.

  • Mary goes in.
So who'd be daft enough to pay the insurance

When half the saints of heaven are unemployed.

  • Mary return.
Mary: Either you paid the premium late or else

The saints are on another job tonight.

John: How's that.
Mary: The safe is empty
John: Now break my heart.
Mary. The hanks of onion gone.
John: Bitter my loss.
Mary: The cups and saucers, buckets, gin and whiskey,

The chamber pots, the Beecham's Pills.

John: The guineas?
Mary: Cleaned like a well wiped baby.
John: Back now bend,

Grow old, old man, and mourn your careful youth

Hoarded so long in gold piece, bank note, cheque,

Deposit receipt and mortgage. I'll demand

My money back for all those candles wasted.

Mary: The accounts are burned, the dockets in ashes,

And Nora's gone.

John: My dockets. And my daughter!
  • He takes a police whistle from his pocket and gives it several long blasts.
Since angels and Ministers of Grace

Have failed to guard, let the guards solve this case.

  • He gives several more blasts on the whistle as the curtain falls.
End of Act I Scene 2.
  • Later on that evening. An open bogland with blue mountains in the distance. There are rocks here and there and a big turf fire in the centre of the stage. Tinkers are dancing around the stage to the music of an accordion and a fiddle, and when the dance comes to and end a tinker steps forward and sings to the tune of "Courting in the Kitchen". All the other tinkers join in the chorus.
Tinker As I came through the land I met a handsome lassie,

I took her by the hand and asked her was she married,

She laughed and winked her eye, no answer would she give me

But "Tinkers are the devils and I wont let one deceive me".

Chorus: Ri-toor-a-looral-ay. Ri-toor-a-looral-addy.

Ri-toor-a-looral-ay. Ri-toor-a-looral-addy.

She took me to the house and she sat me at the table,

She handed tea and cakes and I ate like Cain and Able,

She made me whiskey punch and then, would you believe it

Said "Tinkers are the devil and I wont let one deceive me".

  • Chorus
She sat me by the fire and I slipped my arm around her,

I kissed her twenty times and she kissed me, never doubt her

And when the clock said one she said "Oh do not leave me,

Those tinkers are the devil and I won't let one deceive me".

  • Chorus
A bang came to the door just as the dawn was breaking,

Her husband with a roar set my back and belly aching,

He shouted "Who is this?" and she answered "Oh believe me,

Its my long lost brother Tom, sure I never would deceive ye."

  • Chorus
  • Towards the end of the song, Marks and Nora enter. At the end they applaud with the rest, then Marks steps forward, leaving Nora in the background.
Marks: While others mended kettles, a pot or greasy pan

Or sold a gaudy kerchief, I found a better plan;

No nest egg have I stolen, but found the very queen

Of beauty for my bride tonight. Tinkers, greet my colleen.

  • He draws Nora forward and the tinker women crowd round her.
Tinker Woman: A pretty little piece, but skinny.
Another: A convent educated ninny.
Another: Those fingers never could be taught

To dip a purse and not be caught.

Another: She's never drop a child and then

March forward with the tinker men.

  • To Marks.
And what will Betsy Connors say

About the work you've done today.

  • Nora bursts from among them.
Nora: Don't touch me with your greasy rags,

I'll not be bullied by such hags.

I just came out to see the fires

And not to listen to you spitfires.

Tinker Woman: Its the like of you that causes fight

Between the tinkers in the night.

Another: Chasing after tinker men

Like a hot cock after hen.

Another: Oh well we know the low desires

That brought you out to see the fires.

Another: Shameless little convent miss

Gumming for a tinker's kiss.

Another: Wait till Betsy Connors hears -

She'll pull your hair out, and your ears.

Another: She'll scraub your face and make mince pies

Out of your little wanton eyes.

Another: She'll pummel, punch and pulverize you

So your own ma wont recognize you.

  • Nora turns, terrified, to Marks.
Nora: Oh take me away.
Tinker Woman: Yes, take her away,

That's a bad day's work you did today.

Nora: Oh, hurry me back to my father's abode,

To the neat little room and the well polished floor,

To St. Peter, St. Paul and St. Patrick who guard

The windows and chimneys, the back and front door.

  • Enter Betsy Connors, a fine strapping girl of about nineteen.
Betsy: So, Marks Mongan found himself a bride,

One wife is not enough for him.

Show me her here, I'll leave my mark

On vein, on feature and on limb.

  • Nora is pushed towards her by the women.
Look at her - whipster, hussy, slut,

Sleeveen. I'll maim her, hold my shawl.

I'll knock her two eyes into one,

I'll thump, I'll thrash her and I'll maul.

  • Nora retreats as Betsy makes a rush at her, then, driven desperate, she catches her, throws her in a circle and whirls her into the arms of a tinker at the other side of the stage. the tinkers stand, amazed, and Betsy drops to the ground, whimpering.
Betsy: That's right, Marks Mongan, let your trollop

Beat and bludgeon, drub and wallop.

  • Nora brushes her hands together, then steps forward very proudly and self confidently.
Nora: And now, what does Marks Mongan think of Nora Melody?

Her fame will run like a flame to Castlebar,

At Kililla too they'll talk of me, my name

Will be great among the horse dealers at Ballina.

The pilgrims at Croagh Patrick will deplore me

But under Nephin, at Mulranny and Ballycroy

At Ballinrobe and West in Carrowmore

They'll talk of Nora Melody with joy.

  • The tinker men surround her admiringly, feeling the muscles of her arm and making appreciative noises as though she were a piece of horseflesh.
Tinker man: There's muscles on that one would fell a horse from his standing.
Another: Ah, that's the girl is fit mate for a tinker man.
Another: It's the like of her the old poets used to sing about.
  • Marks dances forward, holding a can of porter.
Marks: Come, Nora child, and share the little can.
  • They drink bruderschaft. Nora makes a disgusted face at the taste.
Marks: From this day out its not in your father's dwelling

You'll be drying dishes or ironing flimsy lace

But among the tinkers you'll rule like Grace O'Malley

And poets forever will celebrate your face.

Like Mary Hynes, that was loved by the poet Raftery,

Or Bridin Vesy, your beauty will plague young men

Who can't possess you, and there's many will find vocations

And say the mass because you were not for them.

And many will wish white marble and chisel

Or canvas, that would mirror the beauty you have,

And dull mouths will be singing and dull ears sharpening

To your praise long after we both have gone to the grave.

Nora: There's many a thing I learned for the first time tonight,

That I'm admired and the pleasure of hearing so.

Tinker Man: Then stay with us forever. You know you're welcome.
Nora: My father

Might be annoyed. He's rather old fashioned you know.

  • Mogue runs in.
Mogue: We're rich as bees in Summer,

We've white wine and we've red

Potatoes and tinned salmon

Tomatoes and shop bread;

The best of Limerick bacon

And plates to hold your fill,

Condensed milk for the babies

And ne'er a merchant's bill.

We've soap for dirty tinkers

And fine combs for the fop,

We'll never see a poor day now -

We've cleared old Melody's shop.

  • Enter the other tinkers dragging their cart.
5th. Tinker: Clear the road for the heroes,

Clear the road for the gang,

Let tinker throats now cheer us,

Let tinker kettles bang;

Let tinker throats be gaping

For better drink than stout,

Let tinker hearts be eager

For a record drinking bout.

1st. Tinker: We've emptied kitchen, larder,

The cupboard and the shelf,

We're weighted down with bottles,

Come on and help yourself.

2nd Tinker: We'll drink tonight like gentry

And roll to bed unseen,

Our blankets will be moonbeams,

Our mattress will be green.

4th. Tinker: The valet that will wake us

Will be the sun himself.

Come on and take your fill now -

We've emptied every shelf.

Nora: So that's the fine adventure

That you would have me share,

Robbing my poor old father....

Tinker Man: Don't fear, you'll get your share!
Nora: Making the world your blood bank

To feed the tinker flea

Living like gulls that thrive on

The ploughman's industry.

  • To marks:
So that is why you wanted me

To leave my father's house -

To clear it for a field day

For flea and tinker louse.

  • Very reasonably
I never knew they had a plan

To rob your da or any man;

But, since they've done it, what is wrong

In equalizing weak and strong?

The State has taxed the wealthy man

And who can dare to tax that plan?

The wealthy man has robbed for sure

Or else he'd certainly be poor.

The state, well knowing his bad deed,

Shares out his wealth to those in need.

We modestly collaborate

With civil servants and the state.

Nora: But.....
Marks: Do not vex your pretty head

With economics. As I said

We try to equalize the wealth.

But we must do our good by stealth.

Tinker Woman:
  • Sings to the tune of "The Sash My Father Wore"
Oh a girl that loves a tinker lad

Must learn the tinker ways,

Must eat when hungry, drink when dry

And thrive on giveaways;

She must know the tinker way of life

And borrow all she can -

We borrow all that's not nailed down

To feed the tinker clan.

Another: Oh, a girl that loves a tinker lad

Must share her father's purse

With those in need remembering

That property's a curse;

She must spot the hiding place of wealth

When she sells a pot or pan

We borrow all that's not nailed down

To feed the tinker clan.

Another: Oh, a girl that loves a tinker lad

Is happy all her days,

She need no silk or satin blouse,

No camisole or stays;

She has treasure, pleasure, plenty as

She borrows for her man,

We borrow all that's not nailed down

To feed the tinker clan.

  • All the tinkers join in repeating the last two lines of each verse.
Tinker Man: Ah, the singing and the dancing, the big muscled tinker,

Sure there's nobody like us in all this fine nation;

If the great god of fire was in need of an escort

He'd not look much further than this congregation.

Another: We're the pick of the choice of the best of the finest,

Too great to be cabined and housed in a pen.

But we're quiet and modest and shy and retiring

And none knows our worth but the traveling men.

1st. Tinker: But my worth's not known to the traveling woman.

I've said that before and I'll say it again.

  • He sings, to the tune of "The Moonshiner".
In Spring I'm in love with the girls of the Spring

And I think of the buds that are swelling with Spring,

And the sap that is rising in flower and tree,

In the Spring I'm in love but there's no one loves me.

In Summer, in Summer, I'm always in love,

Every girl that I pass by is deluged with love,

My eye, like the sun, is hot, ripening and free -

I love every girl then but there's no one loves me.

The apples of Autumn, the ripe field of Autumn

Remind me, alas, of the lessons of Autumn

And I think how the Winter strips garden and tree;

My heart is inflamed then, but there's no one loves me.

And no one loves me, no, no one loves me,

Oh when will those blind girls be able to see

The love that I'm bursting to give liberally

Through all the year's seasons if they'd only love me.

For I'm young and I'm free and the Spring swells in me,

And the blood boils in me, I adore every she;

I could love half a dozen like a god on a spree,

I'd adore, I'd devour them, if they'd only love me.

Marks: Well, here's your chance, poor Betsy Connors

Is left there, mourning with wrinkled brow,

Take her dancing in the firelight

She knows I won't be jealous now.

  • Betsy, who has been lying on the ground where she fell, gets to her feet in a fury.
Betsy: Son you'd give me away like a worn out trousers,

Like a nag only able to carry the years,

Like an empty bottle when the spree is over,

I wish I could weep, but what use are tears.

Maybe some day you'll wish that I wept now,

For any ill deed I can do I'll do,

And any ill wish that will bring misfortune

I give freely and gladly to that girl and you.

1st. Tinker: But Marks meant no harm, he was being comradely,

And a fine girl like you shouldn't go to waste;

Its better to wear out, they say, than rust out,

And its not like you to be so strait-laced.

  • He tries clumsily to put an arm around her, but she disengages it angrily.
Betsy: You addle-headed, blunder headed, muddle headed

Beetle headed stupo, will you keep your ham hands off me

Or I'll beat you better looking.

And goodbye, my valiant tinkers,

May the food you've eaten choke you

And the drink hobnail your livers.

  • She goes.
Marks: Well, there's a little termagant.

You'd think we had been married.

5th. Tinker: Well, didn't you and she jump

Across a broom together.

Marks: I suppose so. I was young then,

A lad, minor only.

She led me on, I couldn't stop.

She raced me down a mountain

We fell together at the bottom.

Or..ah..I fell..she fell,

Well....say we fell together.

And... so we jumped the broomstick,

A year ago.

  • Brightening
But this girl here is worth a dozen of her.
  • To Nora
Don't mind about the broom, sure

No court would recognize it.

Tinker Woman: Go on and treat her decent,

She trailed many a mile behind you.

Another: Her brothers will be after you.
Another: She warmed you when the winter

Blew bagpipes in the tree tops.

Nora: Don't worry at all, I'm going home

And I'll leave this lad to his tinker slut.

One evening of tinker ways is enough

To teach a girl to keep her mouth shut.

Do you think I could stand the tinker smell

And the tinker taste and the tinker view,

And the touch of a tinker and hearing them curse?

No. For me one evening is enough of you.

So, like Betsy Connors, I'll say goodbye,

And may what you've stolen......

  • The third tinker comes running in.
3rd. Tinker: Run quick. Run quick.

Away with the cart. The guards are coming.

Old melody worked a miracle -

For once the boys in blue are running.

1st. Tinker: Down to the lake and through the water

To where the distillers keep their gear.

They'll never find that hiding place,

So well concealed this many a year.

Nora: I must go home....
Marks: No time for talking,

If the police should find you here

They'd swear you let us in to pillage.

And now brave tinkers, disappear.

  • Exeunt omnes. Betsy puts her head up from behind a rock, then jerks it down as the Guards appear.
Guard: Oh trouble. Trouble. Trouble. Trouble. Trouble.
Sergeant: If Melody insists he's robbed, farewell our peaceful sessions,

We'll have the superintendent down to do the case in style,

Inspectors and detectives, Cautioned statements and confessions,

All copied down in longhand and a Civil Service file.

Guards: Oh trouble. Trouble. Trouble. Trouble. Trouble.
  • Enter John Melody.
John: Have you studied, considered, examined and traced?

Have you questioned, unearthed and turned every stone?

Did you scan, did you sound, did you delve and explore?

Sergeant: We cant answer such statements when we're on our beat.
1st. Guard Our investigations are not yet complete.
John: By the great toe of St. Peter, I'll murder those tinkers,

I'll halve them and slice them and cut them and gut them.

Sergeant: Now be very careful mister of the language that you're using,

There's no evidence at all that there's tinkers in the place.

2nd. Guard: Or if they are that one of them was adjacent to your property

At any moment relevant to the purpot of this cast.

1st Guard: And further, I'll remind you of the law of defamation

A very dangerous subject as our writers will agree.

Sergeant: Besides there is no evidence that anything was stolen

Except an unsworn statement that you have made to me.

  • Betsy Connors appears from behind a rock.
John: There's one of the robbers that whipped my property.
  • Betsy sings to the tune of "Bold Thadh O'Neill"
Betsy: Betsy Connors they call me, my heart it is breaking,

Betrayed by a young man so handsome and bold,

For he's left me and followed a rich merchant's daughter

Because I am poor and she's weighed down with gold.

Sergeant: No be on your way or I'll have to arrest you.
John: Tell me, where have this girl and this young fellow gone to?
Betsy: They have gone to an isle in the midst of the water,

Where a cow with one horn gives the sweetest of milk -

If the father was seeking to follow that daughter

This girl would need stockings of nylon or silk.

John She'll have them depending on how much she can tell me.
Betsy: On that island they have hidden the wealth of the merchant,

But they'll come back again once they think they are safe;

Creep into the shadows where I have been hiding,

Be as small as the mouse and as still as the grave.

Sergeant: And what in God's name is she prating about?
John: My daughter's gone off with that villainous tinker,

The tinkers are hiding my money and stuff,

If we wait we can catch them...

  • He glances off stage, and continues in a whisper.
They're coming already, so no more of your guff.
  • John, the sergeant, the guards and Betsy conceal themselves as the tinkers enter, singing:
Tinkers: The heigh-ho the tinkers O

The willing, swilling drinkers O

Beneath the sky what man can vie

With Ireland's clinking tinkers O.

  • Marks leads Nora in by the hand and speaks as he makes love to her. At first she is reluctant and then allows herself to be kissed.
Marks: The old philosophers sought for a stone

For turning lead to gold;

But we do better, we take poor men

And make them happy and rich and then

We take a girl ice cold,

We dance her round the fire and then

We kiss her and then we kiss her again

And we warm the girl that is cold.

  • She dances away from him and then back again.
5th. Tinker: And we love her father's gold.
1st. Tinker: What we can't eat will be sold.
4th. Tinker: We love old Melody's empty shop,

But better we love his gold.

  • The sergeant stands up from behind the rock.
Sergeant: And now the case is closed and complete,

We've witnesses here. Mr. Melody stand.

Two guards with notebooks, and one of yourselves.

You're as good as convicted by the law of the land.

  • On their cue the guards and Betsy stand up.
1st. Guard: And here's your legal caution:-

You needn't, if you wish, say any word,

But anything you do say will be taken down in longhand

In a guard's well formed and strong hand

And it's evidence, no matter how absurd.

John: Arrest every man jack of them,

Arrest the whole pack of them,

Fetter and bind them, handcuff and blind them;

But start with that lout with the long tinker snout

That was mauling and pulling my daughter about.

Nora: But Marks stole nothing from your shop.
John: I see you've fallen for his slop.
2nd. Tinker: Oh, We're innocent as little babies.
3rd. Tinker: Oh, may I get the foaming rabies

If any one of us has lifted

Piece or parcel, cake or biscuit.

4th. Tinker: It's not the likes of us would rob.
5th. Tinker: Suspect the guards first of that job.
John: Oh, St. John, St. John, forgive them

For sinning on your holy day,

And to think my daughter backs them.

5th. Tinker: It's not St. John's, but Balor's day.

If he were here he'd soon put spanners

In all your works and teach you manners.

  • To first guard.
Put down a charge of sacrilege.
1st. Guard:
  • Writing.
They'll bring a curse upon the village.
5th. Tinker: Tonight's the night when Balor's great

And when the tinkers celebrate

His memory. Now Balor come

And save us from the tinker's doom.

  • There is a blackout and when the lights come up Balor is seen, apparently standing on a large rock, though, in reality he is mounted on stilts. He seems at first a small, apologetic looking little man in a long black coat. He has a bandage around his forehead. There are cries of fright from the guards and the tinkers.
Balor: I was resting in a lotus land where Spring comes gently in,

Unthinking and uncaring, unwearied and untroubled,

When I heard a voice recall me to the Ireland that I loved

Before snake charming Patrick came to drive me from my people.

Who is this that rouses Balor from the footnotes of mythology.

1st. Tinker: It's the guards.
2nd. Tinker: Its the gombeenman.
5th. Tinker: They want to jail the tinkers.
Balor: Your voices are displeasing to an ear long sealed from hearing

I am a deviationist, discredited and exiled.

5th. Tinker: You'r Balor, the great fire god?
Balor: I was so named in the old days.
5th. Tinker: And being a god, you're powerful?
Balor: It depends upon the people.

Now, before the last election I was minister for fuel,

The people did my bidding and I did as much for them;

But then I lost their confidence, resigned and went on pension.

Marks: But you've still the....
  • he gestures
Balor: Evil Eye, the symbol of my godhead.

Yes. One blast from that optic would leave desert where you're standing.

But I'm not allowed to use it since I lost the seals of office.

5th. Tinker: But if you were believed in......?
Sergeant: This talk is most seditious,

Heretical, illegal. I'm arresting everyone here

For criminal conversation.

Balor: But if I were believed in

Then I would resume my godhead and I'd reward my servants.

5th. Tinker: Well, I believe in Balor.
  • severally.
And I. And I. Up Balor. Good old

Balor. First vote for Balor. Balor isn't the worst.

Balor for the tinkers and the tinkers for Balor. A

Vote for Balor is a vote for Ireland.

  • Raising his hand in a political gesture.
My friends, your faith is touching.
Betsy: Don't listen to this heathen he'll damn you all forever.
4th Tinker: What have we got to lose. Come on, first vote for Balor.
Nora: What you're doing is very dangerous.
Sergeant: Quite right, miss. These elections are illegal and unlawful,

Null void and superstitious.

John: He must be a red agent

Weighed down with gold from Moscow. I've got my eye on Stalin.

Marks: Tinkers, we've suffered and sweated and laboured,
Betsy: Who? You?
Marks: We're the slaves of an outmoded system,

Condemned by the system to wander and roam.

2nd. Guard: Who has ever succeeded in caging a tinker?
Marks: Without land or money, without farm or home.

We're the pick of the country and nobody knows it.

Sergeant: We know all your records, they're noted and filed.
Marks: A leader is all we are lacking, a leader

Whose heart will be pure and whose reign will be mild.

So tinkers, I offer you Balor for leader.

Sergeant: This is treachery, treason, sedition, rebellion.
5th. Tinker: Hurrah for old Balor, the man for the tinkers.
1st. Guard. The devil I know I'd prefer to this hellion.
  • The tinkers produce placards with slogans and march around the stage shouting.
  • Severally.
Balor for president. Up Balor. Up us. Hurrah for the tinkers. First vote for King Balor. Lebraensraum for the tinkers. And down with partition.
Sergeant: Mind, all your names are noted.
  • Balor, still apparently a diminutive figure, speaks in the manner of a county councilor.
Balor: My friends, and I know that you are my true friends,

I am touched, nay, I'm moved by this joyful reception,

This decision, this epoch constructing decision

Of my warm hearted, generous, loyal adherents.

  • Cheers
From the depths of my heart I congratulate them

And thank them for ending my lingering exile.

  • Cheers
With a diffident bow I accept nomination

And I know that my friends, the old and trusty,

The new and the lusty, the tried and the true

Will forgive my poor halting and slow footed oratory;

Unaccustomed as I am to public addresses,

Having spent the best years of my life in retirement

I am nervous before such a splendent convention,

Comprising, I know, all that's best and most worthy,

Most upright and solvent in all this fine nation,

This nation, need I say, with a heart sound as metal,

But mislead and distracted too long by misgovernment.

  • Cheers
In the general election I suffered some losses -

The year, I remember, was 432,

I decided to rest, like an actor, till my agents

Could find me a new part in your wonderful zoo.

And now with your ready hearts and ready hands to help me,

I know that the victory is ours for the taking,

That I can, that we can march forward together

To a future of freedom and safety and peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, with a heart full of gladness

I accept nomination and am yours to command.

  • There are more tinker cheers and then a brilliant light illuminated him. He steps from behind his rock on his stilts and is seen at his full height, in a long coat to his ankles. The Sergeant, guards, Melody, Betsy, shrink towards the front of the stage. and the tinkers crowd round their champion. He is given a black slouch hat which he dons, a pair of spectacles and a briefcase.
Sergeant: (Writing) On June 23rd. in the village of Knockaderry
An illegal organization met and held a meeting there,

Sedition was indulged in and a mythological person

Named Balor of the Evil Eye was elected to the chair.

John: Oh, summon the soldiers with guns and mortars

To scatter these heathens and restore law and order

  • Enter Mary Melody
Mary: Ah, Sergeant, I'm glad to see things so quiet,

Did you find all the property stolen from us?

There's Nora. I knew she couldn't be far off,

So you see John, you needn't have made such a fuss.

John: They're electing the devil to reign over Ireland

I'm ruined for life and she says, what's the fuss.

  • Marks comes forward with a microphone.
Marks: This is radio Balor, the voice of your country;

Prepare no to hear the historical news -

The long reign of terror is over, rejoice now,

The President is going to give you his views.

The President.

Balor: My friend and constituents, the new Constitution

Is drafted and ready. Now Ireland, give ear,

From this day forward the tinkers will rule you,

A generous, great hearted people, I hear.

  • Approving nods and applause from the tinkers.
The man who has property must instantly cede it

To the great Commonwealth of this new tinker nation,

This great, democratic and idle Republic

Where, henceforth, to labour will cause consternation.

Man's dream of the ages, to live for mere pleasure,

To be, not a worker, but poet and thinker

Has now been achieved, and no man needs money,

All the goods are supplied free - if you are a tinker.

To the others who live in this happy and free land

Is granted the privilege to serve loyally,

To work for the good that is common to all men -

The good of the rulers who have now set you free.

But the traitor who holds any square foot of Ireland,

The traitor who slacks and the traitor who sneers

Will be tried and convicted by the impartial tinkers

And banished to England for the rest of his years.

Ah, lucky the worker who works for a tinker,

And happy the girl to be chosen by one,

And lucky the land to be ruled by such kindness,

For the laws are abolished - only one law will run,

The law of the tinker, the right of the tinker,

The tinker's firm hand in the tinker's warm glove.

So cheer for the tinker who frees you from slavery,

And I warn you, say "Tinker" with allegiance and love.

  • He turns from the microphone and points to John.
This man cedes his property to replenish the tinkers.
  • He points to the guards.
These men will serve poteen and porter and beer,

And they'll smile.

  • A pause
Yes, I knew they would smile on the tinkers,

And they'll cheer.

  • A pause
Yes. They'll cheer.
  • A pause. They cheer.
Yes, I knew they would cheer.
  • Into the microphone
And now I must leave you, But I'll always watch you

And see that my orders are obeyed with a smile.

And I thank my constituents who freely elected

To restore the old order in brotherly style.

  • He goes, and Marks takes the microphone
Marks: That was the first and the last word of power.

Let the people of Ireland now come to the bower.

  • He sings to the tune of "Come to the Bower"
Will you come to the bower through the bog and the heather

To the fires where the boys and the girls are met together

Where the dancing board's laid down, where accordion and fiddle

Are gayer than the poteen with their merry tarradiddle

Will you come, will you, will you,

Will you come to the bower.

Will you come to the bower from Connacht, Leinster, Munster

And there's ten thousand welcomes for the singing men of Ulster

For the border is abolished and we'll all get drunk together,

Will you leave shop and office and come dancing in the heather,

Will you come, will you, will you,

Will you come to the bower.

End of Act II
  • The same set as Act I, one year later. The tinkers, brightly and garishly dressed, are once more dancing outside John melody's shop. They dance a ballet of tinker domination over landlord and tenant, over merchant and lawyer, over priest and policeman. This is dance to an Irish dance tune. Then they sing to the tune of "Biddy Mulligan, the Pride of the Coombe":
Tinker: The grapes and the barley are grown for our pleasure

They swell in the generous sun,

They're pressed and distilled to rejoice us and gladden,

They freshen the old and the young;

They warm the cold hearted and cheer the downhearted,

Raise love thoughts in girls and in boy,

They rally the faint hearted, quicken the great hearted;

Barley and grapes are our joy.

  • All the tinkers join in the chorus:
Then clink, glasses, drain glasses,

Fill glasses, drain glasses,

Let's leave no gay song unsung;

While we've bottles and throttles

Let's put in our noddles

The stuff that makes old fellows young.

Tinker: The sun on the cornfield, the sun on the vineyard

Are bottled against the cold days,

The frost cannot harm us as long as we arm us

With Summer sun's medical rays;

An apple a day keeps the doctor away,

A bottle a day keeps him well,

So for medical reasons we swallow the seasons

When grape and John Barleycorn swell.

  • Chorus
5th. Tinker: Who are the pick of the choicest?
Tinkers: The tinkers!
5th. Tinker: Who are the best of the nicest?
Tinkers: The tinkers!
5th. Tinker: Who are loved and respected,

Adored and protected,

Who are the elected?

Tinkers: The tinkers!
2nd. Tinker: We've been drinking for a year,

We've been eating for a year,

For a year the very best was none too good,

We've drunk brandy and champagne,

Creme de Menthe and Benedictine,

Curacao, Coca Cola, Passion Fruit and Grenadine,

Misty poteen that is good, vintage port, wine from the wood,

Slings of gin and scarlet ladies.

Tinker: And I've finished several tuns of Nelson's blood.
5th. Tinker: The beds that we sleep in are soft as a billow,

Our blankets are softer and warmer than fleece,

Fine women are fighting to plump out our pillows,

Tuck under the blankets and turn down our sheets.

No need now to worry or hurry or think,

No need....

Tinker: What we need is more drink.
  • Severally
More drink. Brink more drink.

Let glasses clink-clink. More drink,

More drink. More drink. More drink.

  • Marks comes out of the shop rolling a barrel.
Marks: More drink for the tinkers,

The world famous drinkers,

More drink, as you say, for the drinkers.

But... like good fellows drink it

Like humans. Don't gulp it, but savour it.

Tinker: Brink porter, my favourite drink.

And fellows, let's gulp it, not savour it.

Marks: Waste that is willful brings want that is woeful.
Tinker: Ah, can't Balor work a miracle?

And aren't we his favourite sons,

His praetorians!

Marks: Mind fellows, I warn you, go easy.
  • Exit.
5th. Tinker: Go easy, her says. Does he think that indigestion

Could torture a tinker, eroding the great

Headlands of his stomach? Come tinkers, get drunk.

We'll drink to the future, the present, the past;

To the women we've won and the women who win

The love of a tinker - the bellowing bull roar,

The wave crashing sea roar, the bone crushing

Flesh tearing love of a tinker. I give you the tinker.

  • Tune: "The Orange Lily O"
I've been a tinker all my life

I'll die a tinker laddie O,

Unwashed, uncombed and carefree as

My hundred year old daddy O.

And just like him, I'll have ten wives,

Or twenty if they're willing O,

I will dance and sing and have my fling

As long as there's a shilling O.

  • All the tinkers join in the chorus.
Tinkers: The heigh-ho, the tinkers O,

The willing, swilling drinkers O,

Beneath the sky what man can vie

With Ireland's clinking tinkers O?

1st Tinker: Oh, the merchant locks his wealth away

In safe or bank or stocking O,

But the tinker spends it while he may

Nor finds such conduct shocking O.

The lawyer, doctor, priest invest

Their cash in stocks so risky O

The tinker wiser than the rest

Invests it all in whiskey O!

  • Chorus
2nd. Tinker: Oh, The men who wear a collar white

as fresh milk or driven snow

Must work, bent over, while its light

For what small pay they're given O

But the tinker, loving, cursing, free

Would find such service penal O,

He may be poor but such as he

Need nurse no duodenal O!

2nd. Tinker: And I give you women. Ah, women!

The whiteness of swan down, the sweetness of honey,

The curve of the hilltop, the curve of the billow,

Lips eagerly kissing, arms ardently clipping,

Eyes closed on the pillow.

Come on and let's find them, the women for tinkers.

  • They rush out eagerly. The sergeant and the guards enter.
1st Guard: Its well for the gentry can drink when they like,

Can sing and make love in the dark and the light,

But poor fellows like us must scrounge from the table

The crumbs that they leave and its seldom we're able.

  • They all fill mugs from the barrel.
2.d. Guard: Ah, the first drink for months. It's marched

Like a torch light procession down a throat that was parched.

1st. Guard: And to think of the old days, the days of our might

When we sat in the snug and drank porter all night.

Sergeant: When the dismal time of closing hour drew near

And landlords cried "Just time for two more rounds"

We'd slip up to the door and seem to peer

As though a public house were out of bounds.

Then the landlord opened up a private door

And brought us drinks pressed down and flowing over,

And sent his well trained daughters with two more,

And there we fed like bullocks in thick clover.

But times have changed and we have changed with times,

Now only tinkers are allowed to smoke

Or drink. To us such deeds are heinous crimes

For pleasures are reserved for gentlefolk.

2nd. Guard: I wonder is the same rule everywhere?
1st Guard: How should we know. The papers are all stopped,

The wireless banned, the telegraphs all dumb.

Sergeant: Drink while we can. The future is a hill

And who knows what's on the other side.

  • Betsy Connors enters, still dressed as in Act II, the only tinker not brightly dressed. The guards try to hide their drinks.
Betsy: Ah, the thieves of the world whipping the tinkers' drink;

If they hear of this crime they'll take it out of your skins.

1st. Guard: We thought 'twas abandoned or treasure trove or the like.
Betsy: For all I care, drink till it dribbles down your chins.

But fill me a can, I've a drought like a poisoned rat.

I'm banished and banned from the tinker kingdom of wealth

And the odd time I eat or drink I'm the same as yourselves

Lifting a crumb or a crust by cunning or stealth.

If I had that Nora Melody, I'd pluck out her eyes,

And play marbles with them among the lads, and I'd make


That the devils of hell would come to dance at the wake.

Sergeant: And there's few would blame you, the way she stole your fellow.
Betsy: I'd leave her fit to be wheeled in babby car.

For, only for her and her father we'd be streeling

The country this minute,

At Ballinrobe or Labasheeda, Belmullet or Castlebar.

  • As they speak, John Melody sneaks in behind and quietly steals the barrel from which they have been drinking.
And the tinkers would be thieves, and not he Peelers,

And the men that live in houses would still be grand,

And the merchants would be great in their own estimation,

And your man inside would be still in his lotus land.

Sergeant: That man inside, if you want to hear my opinion,

That man inside is nothing more or less

Than a hypocrite and a fraud, and as for his miracles...

  • He turns and notices that the barrel is gone. He lowers his voice and speaks respectfully.
And as for his miracles, they show farsightedness.
1st. Guard: Has he whipped the drink from under our very noses?

Or was the drink itself only one of his tricks?

2nd. Guard: Or has some dirty savage stolen our little treasure?
Sergeant: If its that, we better get rapidly on his tracks.
  • They go and, after a few moments, John Melody enters in very high spirits and singing to the tune of "Johnny the Daisy O"
John: Oh, life was never so free, hurrah,

Oh, this is the life for me hurrah,

Oh, why did I worry and labour and hurry

When I could have been on the spree, hurrah!

When I was a merchant I sighed, alas,

My money was all of my pride, alas,

but since I have none my worry is gone,

Hurrah for the health of the working class.

No need to pay rates now or income tax,

No need now for polishing bric-a-bracs,

We drink when we like and stay up half the night,

Who cares if we're called dipsomaniacs!

Betsy: And what was it landed you in this fine humor?
John: I'm as cute as a weasel, as smart as a whip.
Betsy: Was it you whipped the barrel of porter and drank it?
John: Oh, I was the smart one to give them the slip.
Betsy: It wasn't on porter but whiskey or poteen

That your sour, spitballed puss took a grip on a song.

John: I'll tell you my secret, I've a key to the cellar

And I've emptied the bottles into where they belong.

The whiskey and gin and the port and the brandy

Have lighted a fire no brigade could bring under.

The cellar is empty, the tinkers and Balor

Will surely go mad when they hear of my plunder.

Betsy: And nothing is left?
John: Not a bottle or barrel.

The last keg of porter is the one I have still.

And I've hidden it well, the tinker republic

Will founder if Balor can't learn to distill.

Betsy: But surely a miracle.....
John: That talk is all eye-wash.

Your man lost his power in St. Patrick's campaign.

If he can't supply drink, all the tinkers will leave him,

And once they desert, that's the end of his reign.

  • Enter Mary Melody
And me and the missus, the guards and the people

With a stake in the land will be powerful again.

Mary: And you and your like will be homeless and helpless

Stuck under a hedge in the mud of a lane.

Betsy: And when will this be?
John: As soon as his followers question and doubt.
Mary: Well, tell them he's no use and can't feed them porter.
John: They'll know soon enough when the drink has run out.
  • John and Mary go.
Betsy: Ah, little I care if it's Patrick or Balor,

The fire or the shamrock that rules in these parts;

My heart will be broken who ever is ruling

And no politician can mend broken hearts.

  • She sings to the tune of "One Morning in May", and as she sings Harry Ward, the first tinker, enters.
I am a poor girl and my heart it is breaking,

Betrayed by a young man so handsome and bold,

For he's left me and followed a rich merchant's daughter

Because I am poor and she's decked out with gold.

Harry: I am a young man with a heart full of sorrow,

In love this twelve months with a maiden so fair,

But she's given her heart to a treacherous young man

And passes me by with her head in the air.

Betsy: My heart broke in two when that young man betrayed me,

One half is still his but the other is mine;

If I give half that heart is there any would take it

And hope that the two would unite at some time?

Harry: Oh, who is so rich as to scorn half a sovereign?

Who so hot in his leather to spurn half a sun?

The half moon is fragile and sweet when she's shining,

And half of a diamond is better than none.

With a heart and a half I will take up your offer -

By simple addition that makes our hearts two.

Forget all the past, we've the present and future

To find what you get when you add true and true.

  • he comes closer to her.
We'll be sporty, airy lovers.

I'll give you all I have -

A free pass to the roads of the world,

A free laugh at the world as we pass,

A heart that's free to love.

Betsy: And I will give you all I have -

The half of a heart, but the better half,

The half of my life and half of my mind;

And who gets more when all is weighed?

Harry: I'm ugly and clumsy and the girls laugh

When I try to be kind or speak of love.

Betsy: I have loved a man as handsome as Finn

And all that it brought me was broken dreams.

Harry: All the love that I might have wasted

Is stored, like honey, against the winter;

All the delight of my youth is there,

Stoppered and sealed and waiting the hand

To break the seal. Now love surrounds you

And you'll shine like the earth when the Spring takes fire

And flames in crocus or daffodil,

And the ballet dancing cherry and almond.

Betsy: And you'd love me like that though I loved another?
Harry: It isn't the past now but the future

That beaks into flower and I'll make a daisy chain

Of hours and days and seconds and minutes

And I'll hang it around your neck forever.

And no diamond necklace will be half as fine.

Betsy: I'm thinking that I was the fool to be wasting

Twelve months in mourning with my heart broken

Like frost on the top of a well. But this evening

When the sun falls over the edge of the world

I'll give you my mouth and myself for he rest of our nights.

Harry: The day is for living, for hoping, for loving,

The night is for sleeping and dreaming,

Why waste hours of love when our bride bed is waiting.

  • They kiss and go. Re-enter the sergeant and the guards.
Sergeant: It's gone, joy go with it, and may my strong curse

Alight on the reptile that left us in grief.

May the curse of the dumb and the orphan that's blind

Be together combined and light down on the thief.

I curse him again, sure I cannot refrain,

And you'll all say "Amen" when I finish my prayer,

May the bee and the wasp and the ape and the asp

Be his daily companions through market and fair.

1st. Guard: May his temples wear horns and his toes corns,

May he lie down in terror and waken in fear.

2nd. Guard: May the weasel and rat build their nests in his hat,

The monster that stole it, our barrel of beer.

  • They weep noisily. Marks enters from the shop.
Marks: Men, pull yourselves together, this is most undignified.

Why are you so grief stricken.

1st. Guard: It's just that we were thinking

Of the good old days when we had power and loved the gentle tinkers,

And how now we're forbidden even simple joys like drinking.

Marks: But you know that it is necessary to keep you from temptation.
Sergeant: Oh, we've a thirst like camels that have crossed the thankless desert.
2nd. Tinker: I'd personally renounce my soul for half a pint of porter.
Marks: And could I put a sign up, "Policemen's souls for sale here"?
1st. Guard: There was a little barrel with the very best of porter

That was sitting where you're standing till some

Villain came and stole it.

Marks: My God. The very last one.
Sergeant: Aren't there lots like it?
Marks: I wish there were. ( Pulls himself together) Of

Course there are, but this one was a special.

Have you no idea, sergeant, what criminal has got it?
Sergeant: In the days of our power, in the days of our might

We'd think of the tinkers, but now that you're gentry

And the gentry are beggars.....

Marks: If you find it I'll give you a pint for each man.
Sergeant: Come on, lads, let's get it.
  • They go. Marks calls out.
Marks: Oh, Balor, Balor. You're needed here.
  • Balor comes out of the shop, quite a small man with no stilts.
Balor: What is the trouble now, boy.
Marks: A serious situation in regard to fundamentals,

The staple food of tinkers and the cost of living index.

Balor: Explain yourself more clearly.
Marks: You promised when elected that tinkers would be dandled

Like an only and spoiled child.

Balor: Well, haven't you been dandled, well fed, well dressed and given

The very best of liquor?

Marks: That is the point at issue. The cellars are all empty,

The food has all been eaten. And now redeem your pledges.

Balor: Redeem my .......?
Marks: Redeem your pledges; we only need a miracle.
Balor: That is most embarrassing. You see, well, Marks, the fact is

The miracle bank is bankrupt.

Marks: Bankrupt!
Balor: My account is overdrawn there. To secure accommodation

I would need the faith of millions and all I have is tinkers.

The situation's serious and I see no solution.

To buy the faith of millions I need some heartening miracles

And without the faith of nations I have no power to work them.

Marks: So that's how you would treat us who brought you out of exile?
Balor: I lifted the tinker from mending a can

And made him the ruler of Ireland

I gave him silk sheets and the full of his can

And the cream of the women of Ireland.

I cuddled and coddled him, milk fed and swaddled him,

Wrapped him in ermine who only knew vermin,

And now in the heel you squabble and squeal....

Marks: And that is enough of your sermon.

you promised more than you had.

Balor: Politicians have always done that.
Marks: And nothing is all that you give?
Balor: Politicians have been known to rat.
Marks: And what's going to happen to us now?
Balor: Just this - keep it under your hat.
  • He puts his arm round Marks' shoulder and the two walk whispering from the stage. John Melody puts his head in to watch them go, then he enters followed by Mary Melody and Nora.
John: They've come to the end of their one year plan

If Balor cannot fill their can.

Mary: What does it mean? What did they say?
John: It means the tinkers had their day;

This is the end of their constitution,

Now for the counter revolution.

Nora: But daddy, what will happen to them?
John: They'll go back to the roads again.

And let me warn you, keep away

From that Marks Mongan from today.

Mary: You're surely not in love with him?
John: No, that was nothing but a whim.
Nora: Am I in love? And what is love?
  • John shrugs and he and Mary go. As Nora speaks, Marks appears, unseen by her, at the back of the stage.
That night the constellations sang in tune,

The stars bent down, caressing lake and bogland,

Shining on the heather, the placid moon

Traveled the naked sky, her Samarcand

By day, by night her mica covered road.

And was that love, or did I love him when

Eye flashed to signal eye, a secret code,

Left me betrayed by the heart's garrison?

And what is love, and do I really love?

And if I love, why should I love the lad

I hate most in the world? Ah no, I'll prove

My heart was drunk with moonlight, or was mad

with star shine, or the turf-fire's light of love.

I'll take my skittish heart and teach it sense,

Put it on rations, and send it back to school,

Exchange it's giddy pounds for sober pence

And bring the fiery rebel under rule.

  • Marks steps forward and tries to taker her in his arms; She repulses him.
Marks: How could you hate me when you gave your mouth

To my mind when fuchsia burned as bright

As blood that hammered in our temples, when

You let me tame the heart that tried to burst

Out of its cage to nestle in my hand.

And did you hate me when you lay all night

On heather mattress and whispered, "This is Love"?

Nora: It was the Summer spoke and not my tongue.
Marks: And when you whispered, "All I learned or knew,

Guessed or imagined is overboard and love

Sails free before a rough and boisterous wind"

Was that because you hated?

Nora: No, because

The body spoke, and not the virtuous mind.

Marks: Now that John's Eve is here again, and love

Raises his scarlet flag on every hill....

Nora: Then father's right and Balor's race is run?
Marks: What do you mean?
Nora: You speak of John's Eve

And not of Balor's day. Your reign is over

And once again your an itinerant lout.

Marks: I'm not admitting anything, at the worst

It may be necessary to make some change and form

A government in exile. The supply position,

The economic stress may force our hands.

  • Re-enter the tinkers.
5th. Tinker: Where the devil have they gone to?
2nd. Tinker: There isn't a female anywhere.
Mogue: Were they auctioned off and sold as dollar earners?
5th. Tinker: I'd dearly love to attend that fair -

Fine strong women being skelped to the market,

A knowing hand to assess their girth,

A look at their calendar teeth, then a gallop

To test their wind and speed and worth.

Then the bargain sealed and the luck penny handled,

We'd load them, forty head at a time

And ship them to Dublin. Sure, 'twould save the country,

Man dear, the census figures would climb;

And early marriage and well filled quivers

Would be the rule, and the farming classes

Would drink champagne instead of porter

And ride to the market in their own Rolls Royces.

2nd. Tinker: If we can't find women, what's the use of thinking,

And time is wasted not spent in drinking.

5th. Tinker: Good fellows let us drink tonight

As no man drank since Bacchus

The sky will be our cocktail jug

The lakes and seas our glasses.

  • Chorus
And when the sun comes up again

And sees the mighty slaughter

He'll say "The worlds gone roaring drunk,

They should have stuck to porter."

The merchant and the excise man

And all who live in houses

Will be our footstools and the hills

Our seats through our carousals.

  • Chorus
We'll pour the brandy, gin and rum,

The whiskey and the sherry

Down gullets thirstier than sand

And all die drunk and merry.

  • Chorus
Then burn the corks and pour the liquor,

Empty all the bottles,

You'll get no chance once life is past

So pour it down your throttles.

  • They turn to look for the barrel.
Mogue: The barrel is gone that was newly broached,

It must have been seen by some villain and poached.

5th. Tinker: If so, what matter, there's plenty more,

Go on and give a kick at the door.

Tinkers: More drink. More drink. More drink. More drink.

Let glasses clink, clink. More drink. More drink.

  • Marks steps forward:
2nd. Tinker: Bring us more drink. Our throats are parched,

We're as dry as a sermon.

Marks: Where's the barrel you got?
5th. Tinker: Some villain has trundled it, bundled it off.

Bring us another and let us blot

it up. We'll gulp it, engulf it, absorb it.

Marks: There isn't another.
Tinkers: (Severally) There isn't another?

Why not? We're thirst and cross.

We've been all crossed in love, don't cross us in drink.

Marks: There's no more. I warned you go easy. Not a drop.
5th. Tinker: Tell Balor we want him. We're as cross as two sticks,

As mad as a wet hen. Hey, Balor, we want you.

  • Balor enters
Balor: Yes, gentlemen, what can I do for you?
Tinkers: More drink. More drink. More drink. More drink.
Balor: A serious situation now confronts the tinker nation,

For a year you've drunk and eaten as though 'twere your vocation.

Tinkers: More drink. More drink. More drink. More drink.
Balor: But even drink must have an end if there's none to brew it;

There's twelve months' work now to be done, and you're the ones to do it.

Tinkers: More drink. More drink. More drink. More drink.
  • John Melody enters
Balor: The age of miracles is past.
John: Ah, tinkers, here's the truth at last.
Balor: And I know that men of your proud tradition

Won't depend on miracles for a drink.

John: Now, here is the truth, your reign is over

Gather round , tinkers, now, and think:

What goes up must soon come down,

A quart won't fit in a pint bottle,

Without a brewery the glass is empty,

An empty glass will wet no throttle.

Tinkers: Shut up. Be quiet. Throw him out.
John: Balor promised endless days

Of idle dreaming, constant drinking,

Unwearied loving, ceaseless pleasure,

Carefree, happy and unthinking.

Balor: And all that I have given them.
John: But this is the end, there's no more to give,

The cellar is empty, the bottles drunk,

And soon you'll be a fugitive.

Tinkers: (Severally) Is what he's saying true or false?

Here and now I renounce my faith.

Down with Balor, he tricked us all.

Go on. It's time to abdicate.

  • John blows his police whistle.
Balor: Oh, you ungrateful race, you serpent's brood,

Refugee snakes that Patrick failed to drown,

Mosquito blood is in your veins, the mad

Dog's snarl is on your crooked teeth;

Betrayal is your creed and treachery

Your faith. I'll see that Charon's ferry boat

Carries no tinker soul across the Styx,

And that St. Patrick, abandoned like myself,

Will use his staff to poke you into hellfire.

5th. Tinker: Only for us you'd be a memory still.
Marks: Men. Tinkers. Idlers. Listen to me.

The long bank holiday is at an end,

We've slept and idled, eaten, drunk and loved,

And now, rested and forceful, filled with energy

We'll step forward on the road to work.

Tinkers. No work. No work. No work. No work.
Marks: Work not for ourselves alone, but work

For Ireland's good.

2nd. Tinker: When has a tinker worked?
Marks: In the future tinkers will not gauge their worth

By pints they drink, by women they love,

But by the hours they work, the work they do.

Tinkers: Throw him out. Silence. Nonsense. No work.

No work. No work. No work. No work.

John: And this is the end of the tinker's republic.

A workers' republic! Yerrah! Don't make me laugh.

Marks: This man is talking nonsense

And that man is talking treason.

5th. Tinker: The whole world knows a tinker goes

By instinct, not by reason.

4th Tinker: A working tinker is absurd,

A walking contradiction;

Was it for this we made your man

A faction, not a fiction?

Mogue: The jig is up, our race is run,

Our luck is out, the bailiff's in,

We've lost the toss, the hand of fate

Has got us leading with the chin.

Marks: Oh, who can know what changes luck,

Maybe the clockwork of the stars

Runs down, or perhaps the fiery cock

Sleeps late and fate

Raves into work and wrecks the calendars.

3rd. Tinker: The clerical magpie, evil bird,

May send his spy upon our road.

2nd. Tinker: Or, bright with morning, we may meet

A red haired woman or a cat,

A white hare or a tailless rat.

Marks: Our feet may cross a fairy ring

And if we fail to cross our fingers

Turn back, touch wood, reverse our coat,

Luck, trembling like a compass hand,

May veer and leave us on the rocks,

Shivered and battered, smashed and far from land.

John: That's where you are now - wrecked and far from home,

Like Barney's bull - that prototype of woe.

  • Enter the sergeant and the guards.
Arrest the whole pack of them,

Every man-Jack of them,

Fetter and bind them, handcuff and blind them.

Sergeant: (To Balor) I'm very sorry, President, to hear the heinous treason,

We'll take him to the madhouse, he must have lost his reason.

John: No. The old regime is back again, and I'm in the saddle;

Arrest them, bind them, lock them up and see that don't skedaddle.

Sergeant: (Pointing to Balor) We can't arrest this person here.
Balor: Quite right. Before I leave you

I have one more speech to make, the last,

Which may or may nor grieve you.

Tinkers and people, humans and tinkers,

This is the last word to all my fine drinkers.

You brought me to earth again, made me a God again,

Now I must leave again, off on my tod again.

I forgive you for failing in faith since a tinker

Is seldom a poet and never a thinker;

And I leave you one gift, the last egg in my nest,

It will save you from punishments, warrants, arrest.

This is my miracle, the strongest of all;

From today let the statute book carry this law;

All property of whatsoever type, manner or description

Chattle real or personal, asset, resource or possession,

Dower, jointure or inheritance, asset or patrimony,

Chose in action, lock-stock-and barrel and even common money,

Gear, tackle and rigging and accouterments of all kinds,

Sides of bacon, barrels of porter, clay pipes and window blinds

Shall belong, if not nailed solidly to the living earth,

To the tinker who can take them and carry them away in his cart.

And this act, to which all pains and penalties of the constitution shall adhere,

Shall be known as the Tinkers Property Protection Act of the present year.

And all of the events of the past twelve months will be forgotten by everyone

And for that purpose there will be a statute know as the Act of Oblivion

And now I must leave you, and as I bid you goodbye

I hope that if ever you want an odd job god to run

Your errands again you won't call on Balor of the Evil Eye.

  • There is a blackout and when the lights go up again Balor has disappeared, the scene has changed to that of Act II and the characters are in their poses from when the Sergeant stoop from behind the rock.
Sergeant: And now the case is closed and complete,

We've witnesses here. Mr. Melody stand.

Two guards with notebooks, and one of yourselves.

You're as good as convicted by the law of the land.

  • On their cue the guards and Betsy stand up.
1st. Guard: And here's your legal caution:-

You needn't, if you wish, say any word.....

2nd. Guard: Perhaps your sergeantship is unaware

That only recently an act was passed,

The Tinkers Property Protection Act.

  • The sergeant pulls a pamphlet out of his pocket.
Sergeant: That's right. Now tell me, Mr. Melody

Was all your property securely nailed,

Barred, locked, bolted?

John: I think it was.
Sergeant: Think is no good. So I must charge you now

With criminal dereliction of your duty.

Guards, take him to the station for the night.

And to the tinkers, I apologise,

Wish them good luck, good health, good appetite.

  • The tinkers and the guards depart with John.
Marks: So, all ends well. Nora will be my bride.
Nora: No, I'll not have the people say

I left my respectable kith and kin

Disgraced my parents to streel behind

A tinker who doesn't know prayer from sin;

And I'll not change my painted room

And the patchwork guilt and single bed

For the shelter of a heeled up cart -

I'm a timid girl when all is said,

And a prayer comes readier than a curse

And a curse comes readier than a blow,

So, God bless you, and keep me far from me,

And I'll love you the more the further you go.

Marks: No stranger dog has ever learned

The tinker ways and no woman who grew

In a cottage garden could take to the wilds.

I'm afraid poor Betsy will have to do.

Betsy: Poor Betsy is richly in love, and Harry

Is richly in love with her, and they'll marry.

Marks: The sportsman who misses with one barrel

Presses the other trigger and then

Reloads; and the fisher who loses his salmon

Baits his bright hook and tries again;

And the air is still heavy with wings and the river

Still busy with fish and in every hedge

There are girls growing ripe and from this day I'll pluck them

For that is a tinker's privilege.

(To Nora) And you in your little white bed will remember

The great bed of earth, and my love, like a wave.

(To Betsy) And you, with your lot, will remember my kisses

And the wild love I gave you, till your bed is the grave.

5th. Tinker: Enough of this love talk, come open the bottles,

Time enough for the girls when we've wetted our throttles;

From this day no tinker need work, think or grieve,

And the day of our exodus is Holy John's Eve.

  • The tinkers sing to the tune of "Molly Bawn"
Tinkers: Oh the chicken or the duckling from the pot,

The sugar and the bread, the twist of tea,

The potatoes and the carrots and the onion from the garden,

Oh who wouldn't be a tinker when he's free.

The blanket from the cupboard or the cot,

The night shirt from the clothesline or the tree,

The pony from the stable and the bottle from the table,

Oh, who wouldn't be a tinker when he's free.

The daughter or the mother from the man,

The little girl who longs for gaiety,

The bacon from the table, the porter from the shebeen,

Oh who wouldn't be a tinker when he's free.

The woodbine in the hedgerows and the lane,

The fair green and shooting gallery,

The love making in the haystacks when the stars are bright as tapers

Oh, who wouldn't be a tinker when he's free.