Seven Drunken Nights - A Song About Drinking (And Irish Sexuality)

A Popular Song in Ireland, But Maybe Not Irish

After a night on the lash, the tide may still be flowing, but your perception of reality may be impaired - as the song "Seven Drunken Nights" warns
© Bernd Biege 2015

The fast-paced and funny song "Seven Drunken Nights" is one of the best known Irish folk songs both inside and outside of the Emerald Isle. If you really listen to the words, you can also find quite a few dirty jokes (which only adds to its appeal). It is best to learn the words because the audience is expected to sing along to this pub song.

The song's lyrics tell the story of a man coming home after enjoying a few too many Irish drinks, to find all kinds of clues that his wife is having an affair.

But because he is drunk, she is able to turn the tables on him and has an answer to deny every sign of her infidelity.

It is the song that the beloved Irish folk group The Dubliners performed during their first appearance on "Top of the Pops" in the 1960s (they later appeared again with The Pogues, belting out "The Irish Rover"). But even though the song was massively popular, the band was not allowed to perform all of the verses. That is because some of the lyrics to "Seven Drunken Nights" are so risque (think: a hairy tin whistle "in her thing") that they were not allowed on television in 1967 when this bawdy ballad stormed the charts.

Luckily, there are no censors at the pub - which is where you will usually hear this song played live. Here is how to sing along:

Seven Drunken Nights - the Lyrics

As I went home on Monday night as drunk as drunk could be
I saw a horse outside the door where my old horse should be
Well, I called me wife and I said to her: Will you kindly tell to me
Who owns that horse outside the door where my old horse should be?

Ah, you're drunk,
you're drunk you silly old fool,
still you can not see
That's a lovely sow that me mother sent to me
Well, it's many a day I've travelled a hundred miles or more
But a saddle on a sow sure I never saw before

And as I went home on Tuesday night as drunk as drunk could be
I saw a coat behind the door where my old coat should be
Well, I called me wife and I said to her: Will you kindly tell to me
Who owns that coat behind the door where my old coat should be

Ah, you're drunk,
you're drunk you silly old fool,
still you can not see
That's a woollen blanket that me mother sent to me
Well, it's many a day I've travelled a hundred miles or more
But buttons in a blanket sure I never saw before

And as I went home on Wednesday night as drunk as drunk could be
I saw a pipe up on the chair where my old pipe should be
Well, I called me wife and I said to her: Will you kindly tell to me
Who owns that pipe up on the chair where my old pipe should be

Ah, you're drunk,
you're drunk you silly old fool,
still you can not see
That's a lovely tin whistle that me mother sent to me
Well, it's many a day I've travelled a hundred miles or more
But tobacco in a tin whistle sure I never saw before

And as I went home on Thursday night as drunk as drunk could be
I saw two boots beneath the bed where my old boots should be
Well, I called me wife and I said to her: Will you kindly tell to me
Who owns them boots beneath the bed where my old boots should be

Ah, you're drunk,
you're drunk you silly old fool,
still you can not see
They're two lovely Geranium pots me mother sent to me
Well, it's many a day I've travelled a hundred miles or more
But laces in Geranium pots I never saw before

And as I went home on Friday night as drunk as drunk could be
I saw a head upon the bed where my old head should be
Well, I called me wife and I said to her: Will you kindly tell to me
Who owns that head upon the bed where my old head should be

Ah, you're drunk,
you're drunk you silly old fool,
still you can not see
That's a baby boy that me mother sent to me
Well, it's many a day I've travelled a hundred miles or more
But a baby boy with his whiskers on sure I never saw before

And as I went home on Saturday night as drunk as drunk could be
I saw two hands upon her breasts where my old hands should be
Well, I called me wife and I said to her: Will you kindly tell to me
Who owns them hands upon your breasts where my old hands should be

Ah, you're drunk,
you're drunk you silly old fool,
still you can not see
That's a lovely night gown that me mother sent to me
Well, it's many a day I've travelled a hundred miles or more
But fingers in a night gown sure I never saw before

As I went home on Sunday night as drunk as drunk could be
I saw a thing in her thing where my old thing should be
Well, I called me wife and I said to her: Will you kindly tell to me
Who owns that thing in your thing where my old thing should be

Ah, you're drunk,
you're drunk you silly old fool,
still you can not see
That's a lovely tin whistle that me mother sent to me
Well, it's many a day I've travelled a hundred miles or more
But hair on a tin whistle sure I never saw before

Seven Drunken Nights - an Irish Song?

Well, the jury is well and truly out on that one ... a version of this song, titled "The Merry Cuckold and the Kind Wife", was printed in a London broadside around 1760, and another version was recorded (as in "written down", there were no smartphones with recording function at that time) in Scotland about ten years later. Translations into German followed, and the song was known as far afield as the fjords of Scandinavia and the plains of Hungary.

On March 30th, 1967, The Dubliners released their version of "Seven Drunken Nights" as a single (this, kids, was a small vinyl record played at 45 RPM) - reaching number 1 in the Irish charts, and number 7 in the UK, leading to the "Top of the Pops" appearance of the hirsute Irishmen. Ever since then, it is regarded as an Irish song ...