“She’s Away with the Raggle Taggle Gypsy” – Oh! – Folk Song, Music & Lyrics

Almost everyone has heard of the “Raggle Taggle Gypsy!” If you haven’t Raggle Taggle Gypsy is a Traditional Folk song that is hugely popular in Ireland and indeed many other parts of the world. It is performed regularly in Ireland, Scotland, England and all over Europe and North America. It is thought to have originated in Scotland.

It’s a great feisty little number! There are so many variations of it across the world. I have included some of them and the song lyrics. Currently my favourite version is by an Irish Country, Folk, Rock Singer Songwriter I’ve just discovered called Finn McGinn. His version has a bit of an edge to it which I really like.

I have used the song lyrics for “The Waterboys” version of the song as that is the one I have listened to the most.

The Raggle Taggle Gypsy – Song Lyrics

There were three old gypsies came to our hall door
They came brave and boldly-o
And one sang high and the other sang low
And the other sang a raggle taggle gypsy-o

It was upstairs downstairs the lady went
Put on her suit of leather-o
And there was a cry from around the door
She’s away wi’ the raggle taggle gypsy-o

It was late that night when the Lord came in
Enquiring for his lady-o
And the servant girl she said to the Lord
“She’s away wi’ the raggle taggle gypsy-o”

“Then saddle for me my milk white steed
– my big horse is not speedy-o
And I will ride till I seek my bride
She’s away wi’ the raggle taggle gypsy-o”

Now he rode East and he rode West
He rode North and South also
Until he came to a wide open plain
It was there that he spied his lady-o

“How could you leave your goose feather bed
Your blankeys strewn so comely-o?
And how could you leave your newly wedded Lord
All for a raggle taggle gypsy-o?”

“What care I for my goose feather bed
Wi’ blankets strewn so comely-o?
Tonight I lie in a wide open field
In the arms of a raggle taggle gypsy-o”

“How could you leave your house and your land?
How could you leave your money-o?
How could you leave your only wedded Lord
All for a raggle taggle gypsy-o?”

“What care I for my house and my land?
What care I for my money-o?
I’d rather have a kiss from the yellow gypsy’s lips
I’m away wi’ the raggle taggle gypsy-o!”

The song, quite simply, is about a lady who leaves a life of luxury to run into the arms of a wandering gypsy and his gypsy band, leaving her “Lord” (husband) and estate behind. It’s a tale as old as the hills. Girl marrying wrong man then deciding to leave or being forced to marry a man she doesn’t want to marry and secretly longing for or planning her escape.

In olden times, especially, or in different cultures, women often had to marry for financial reasons or social standing or because of family dynamics, bloodlines, etc. It was often a rite of passage to get married, simply expected. But even in the modern world it is often frowned upon for a woman to marry beneath her social status and in aristocratic circles can cause great controversy.  Not that this stops people as it is a rather outdated concept.

On the other hand, a woman can marry a man and realise Uh, Oh, he is not at all what I expected! This song can also be seen as a story about temptation and the allure of the exotic and leaving security behind. It can be good or can be bad. Could go either way. But if someone is not happy where they are it is easier to succumb to temptation. And had her lord and master been treating her well she may not have run off. She could also have just been bored of him and a gypsy life seemed infinitely more exciting.

The song conjures up adventure, excitement and running off to start a new life on the road. It has the type of allure as say a child wanting to run off and join the circus or an adult fed up of a conventional lifestyle and happy to leave the trappings of wealth, conformity and societal expectations for a life of freedom.

This song symbolises the fact that happiness is not always found in wealth, nor in living in an Ivory Tower, but can be found in the arms of nature or a more simple life. And that true love is not based on the material possessions a man has but what is in his heart and soul. It has a sense of grass roots rising. Some women find a man more appealing if he has the ability to play a guitar, write a poem or build things, rather, than simply have the ability to acquire material wealth.

Material success is not a bad thing, of course, especially if derived from passion, hobbies or ethical businesses that improve the world or help people. In fact unfortunately nowadays money appears to be the currency of freedom and appears a necessity. It is money for money’s sake alone that lacks soul. Or the goal to acquire material wealth at the expense of all other things in life including relationships.

This story shows how horrified the man is that his woman has ran off with a humble gypsy. It’s hard to know whether he is genuinely heartbroken or just astounded she should leave him for a raggle taggle gypsy. And whether he wants her back or sees her as his property. But into the arms of a gypsy she goes with her mind 100% made up. He may be financially wealthy, but gypsies are true survivors. So the arms of a Raggle Taggle Gypsy is for her a good move and it seems this for her is real romance whereas the man she was leaving did not seem romantic at all. Wealthy Landowners might not make the best lovers!

Have to say, ever since reading “Wuthering Heights” as a girl, it is the Heathcliff characters and not the Edgar Lintons that have always held eternal appeal for me. So here’s to the Raggle Taggle Gypsies. Yo! 😉

“What care I for my goose feather bed
Wi’ blankets strewn so comely-o?
Tonight I lie in a wide open field
In the arms of a raggle taggle gypsy-o”

If you liked this post you may also like Gypsy Music and Vintage Gypsy Photos and The Highway Man

©SupernaturalWriting.wordpress.com

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