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The Auld Triangle

A song written by Irish writer and playwright Brendan Behan (1923-1964), during his stay in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin. The Royal Canal is an old shipping canal that cuts across the north of Dublin and heads out west (its counterpart on the southside of the city is the Grand Canal). The song WASN'T written by either Shane McGowan or the Pogues -- as about half the people on the Net seem to think -- though they released a version. It's an extremely popular song to sing at about 2 am with all your pals about you after much drink has been taken. You can (and often do) nearly shout out the chorus, "and that auld triangle..." etc etc. Also note that most Dubliners seem to prefer the line "Get up ya bowsies and clean out your cell" to that offered in line two of verse two. Other notes: a "screw" is slang for a prison guard.

I last heard this sung in drunken circumstances in Doheny & Nesbitt's pub on Baggot Street in Dublin, matching correct ambience suggested above. It was memorably rendered by an irrepressable Irish lawyer friend of some reputation who lives in Boston, in company of (amongst others) various drunken senior Irish politicians, one being a current senior minister and one a former senior minister... [grin]. Ye know who ye are, ye lads ye!

The Auld Triangle


A hungry feeling, came o'er me stealing
And the mice  were squealing in my prison cell
And that auld triangle, went jingle jangle
All along the banks of the Royal Canal

Oh to start the morning, the screw was bawling
Get up out of bed , and clean out your cell
And that auld triangle, went jingle jangle
All along the banks of the Royal Canal

Oh the screw was peeping and the lag was sleeping
As he lay weeping for his girl Sal
And that auld triangle, went jingle jangle
All along the banks of the Royal Canal

On a fine spring evening, the lag lay dreaming
And the seagulls were wheeling high above the wall
And that auld triangle, went jingle jangle
All along the banks of the Royal Canal

Oh the wind was sighing, and the day was dying
As the lag lay crying in his prision cell
And that auld triangle, went jingle jangle
All along the banks of the Royal Canal

In the female prison there are seventy five women
And I wish it was with them that I did dwell
And that auld triangle, could go jingle jangle
All along the banks of the Royal Canal


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Last update: 23/09/2002; 23:40:00.
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