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Are Ye Right There Michael?

Irish Parody Song

Are Ye Right There Michael is a song parodying the disastrously disorganized rural trains of late 19th century Ireland. After rushing to catch the train in the morning, the singer waits over an hour before departure. Further incidents waylay the poor travelers, including missing packages, running out of fuel, backing into a truck and passengers having to push the engine uphill. The entire journey is underscored by the fatalism of the Irish guard exchanging resigned remarks with the conductor, Michael.

Are Ye Right there Michael? was composed by Percy French, considered one of the greatest Irish poets, and is based on the true story of a disastrous trip he took on the West Clare Railway. It is here performed by Sam Hughes.

Listen to Are Ye Right There Michael


You may talk of Columbus's sailing,
Across the Atlantical Sea,
But he never tried to go railing,
From Ennis as far as Kilkee.
You run for the train in the morning,
The excursion train starting at eight.
You're there when the clock gives the warning,
And there for an hour you'll wait.
And as you're waiting in the train,
You'll hear the guard sing this refrain:

Are ye right there, Michael, are ye right?
Do you think that we'll be there before the night?
"Oh ye've been so long in startin',
That ye couldn't say for certain,"
Still ye might now, Michael, so ye might.

They find out where the engine's been hiding,
And it drags you to sweet Corofin.
Says the guard: "Back her down on the siding.
There's a goods from Kilrush coming in."
Perhaps it comes in in two hours,
Perhaps it breaks down on the way.
"If it does," says the guard, "by the powers,
We're there for the rest of the day."
And while you sit and curse your luck,
The train backs down into a truck.

Are ye right there, Michael, are ye right?
Have ye got the parcel there for Mrs. White?
Oh ye haven't, oh begorra.
Say it's comin' down tomorra.
And it might now, Michael, so it might.

At Lahinch the sea shines like a jewel,
With joy you are ready to shout,
When the stoker cries out: "There's no fuel,
And the fire's tee-totally out!
But hand up that bit of a log there,
I'll soon have ye out of the fix,
There's a fine clamp of turf in the bog there,
And the rest go a-gatherin' sticks."
And while you're breakin' bits of trees,
You hear some wise remarks like these:

"Are ye right there, Michael, are ye right?
Do ye think that you can get the fire to light?
Oh, an hour you'll require,
For the turf it might be drier.
Well it might now, Michael, so it might."

Kilkee! Oh you never get near it!
You're in luck if the train brings you back,
For the permanent way is so queer,
It spends most of its time off the track.
Uphill the old engine is climbin',
While the passengers push with a will,
You're safe when you reach Ennistymon,
For all the way home is downhill.
And as you're wobblin' through the dark,
You hear the guard make this remark:

"Are ye right there, Michael, are ye right?
Do you think that you'll be home before it's light?"
"Tis all dependin' whether,
The old engine holds together."
And it might now, Michael, so it might.

Are Ye Right There Michael Sheet music

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