An Irishman’s Dream


When I was 11 years old my grandfather taught me a long poem.  I wrote it down, memorized it and then lost the original writing.  Every few years I would think about that poem and I would recite it from memory.  Hell, I have trouble remembering all the words to “Happy Birthday”, but I remember that poem like it was yesterday.  I often recite if to my wife and she thinks I should share it. I wrote it down and hopefully my hard drive doesn’t crash before my brain.  Here it is in full…excuse the length.

An Irishman’s Dream

   About a week ago I was invited, by an old time friend of mine                                                   to come up to his residence to taste his beer and wine.                                                          Well, we ate a lobster salad and lots of other truck                                                                    and drank each other’s health until the hour of three had struck.

We drank until we didn’t know which was wine or beer,                                                         That our heads felt rather heavy and my brain was not very clear.                                              I got home I don’t know how, my prayers I think I said,                                                           For I was partially paralyzed when I finally got to bed

Well I died and went to heaven; I saw repentance was too late,                                           when suddenly I was ushered up before the golden gate.                                                      “Well what do you want?” said St Peter, “you know you can’t come in,                                 For you must surely suffer that greedy glutton’s sin.”

So, I turned aside, said not a word, but bowed my head in shame,                                        And Peter’s clerk, who stood close by, wrote LOST against my name.                                 Next came an Italian, on earth I knew him well,                                                                           So I stopped and listented patiently to the story he might tell.

“Oh, gooda father Pedro, I comma to you at last.                                                                         My peanut days are over, my banana nights are past.                                                                     I treata my neighbor just a lika myself, no begga, no robba, no steal.                                   And never on the sidewalks, did I throw a banana peel.”

“You begone”, cried Peter, “you gains were ill begotten,                                                         Your peanut shells were empty, your bananas often rotten.”                                                Well, the Italian turned aside, and a tear was in his eye,                                                          And he came and stood beside me and heaved a heavy sigh

Well, next came an old Hebrew, with a satchel in his hand,                                                    And before the gate of St. Peter, the Hebrew took his stand.                                                “Ahh, good father Peter, I vill tell you what ve’ll do                                                                    I’ve got jewelry fit for the angels, I vill auction off to you.

  I could sell them on a payment plan, but that would be a sin,                                                 So, I vill give them to you for half price, if you vill let me in.                                                     On earth I kept a clothing store, my goods were nice and strong                                           And I could fit for you and overcoat but I forgot to bring it along.

“Are you deluded well?” says Peter,”for very well you know                                              There’s no need for overcoats, down where you have to go”                                                   Well next came an old maid from England, one bound to have her way                                  So she began addressing Peter, in this most peculiar way

“Oh, goodness gracious me, here I am after gossiping many a year                                          So open the gate and let me in, I’m catching cold out here.                                                     And give me a first class pair of wings, a silver shield and then                                                    I won’t have to be afraid of those nasty naughty men.

“No”, Peter answered bluntly, “no angels have grey hair,                                                         And as you have no sons or daughters, you’d be a stranger here.”                                         Well the poor old maid wilted, she must ever more opine                                                       And just like me and all the rest, she came and stood in line.

Well next came poor Paddy, a son of Erin’s Isle                                                                         And he greeted old St. Peter with a very gracious smile.                                                           “Ha ha, it’s yourself, St. Peter, looking so nice and sweet.                                                           So get yer clerk to open the gate and show me to me seat.”

“Hold”, cried Peter, “your case must first be tried.                                                                    And you will have to show a passport, before you get inside.”                                           “Hurry fer Jesus sake St. Peter, or for supper I’ll be late.”                                                     Then poor Paddy took off his little cap and he threw it inside the gate

“Go get thy hat,” says Peter, “thou sacrilegious lout!”                                                               And Paddy rushed in and slammed the gate and he locked St. Peter out.                                  Then, through the keyhole, loud he cried“Ya ha my boyo, I’m the master now yee see.      But I’ll give up heaven, the gate and the crown If you’ll set old Ireland free.”

Well, then I awoke and found my head between the bed and wall.                                         The sheets were tangled round my feet, ‘twas the lobster salad that did it all.

About bakoheat

Writer/Musician
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19 Responses to An Irishman’s Dream

  1. Carol Pendleton says:

    I love it and as time goes by those times with grandpa and grandma become more clear, Could it be I am approaching the age they used to be??

  2. I believe you have here the lyrics of an old American song called Kelley’s Dream, written down at one point by one J. W. Kelley, who got the credit for it. There is a verse missing about the German, however.

    Next came a German, now paralyzed with fear,
    Who on earth oftimes paralyzed his customers with beer.
    “Veil, Fadder Beter, I come to you free from sin,
    Und I vill only ask you ein favor. Das is: if you vill let me in;
    Mein vife she runned away from me; to hide mein shame I cried,
    So I went down by the river und committed suicide.”
    “Then you begone,” said Peter,” and suffer thy disgrace;
    You came before I sent for you, I cannot make a place.”
    The German turned away and said: “Oh, Gott oh, mein! ”
    And, just like me and all the rest, took his place in line.

    • bakoheat says:

      Tim, How great you found the REAL name to this thing My grandad was blind the last five years of his life and died when I was 12. He recited about 30 different poems, told about 50 different stories and could sing about 100 Irish songs. I never knew the correct name or the origination of the “Dream”. And, I never knew there was an old German turned away…what a great discovery. I looked for that thing for many years and never looked in the right place I guess. I once found “An Irishmen’s Dream on a record that had to be ordered from Ireland. I didn’t know if it was ever a song so I didn’t order it. Only lately I’ve been remembering it and giving Amy a headache as I remembered each verse. Thanks for the response, the origin and the new verse.
      I love it….dan

  3. Teri Crosby says:

    I have been looking for this for years! Thank you so much for posting it. My grandparents were born and raised in Ireland. My grandfather passed over when I was only four, though (in 1957). My mother (who passed over 20 years ago), said that he would recite this poem at holidays, but she couldn’t remember all the words. About 30 years ago, or so, she told me what she could remember and I wrote it down, but then lost it years ago. So I’m so happy to see it. She didn’t say at the end that “it was the lobster salad that did it all.” I think she had said, “It was the gosh darn moonshine that had done it all.” But, then, again, she and/or I could be mistaken. But thank you again. I can’t wait to call my relatives to tell them. And thank you, Timothy, too. She did say it was “Kelly’s Dream”, and she did tell of the German. 😀

  4. Teri Crosby says:

    Oh, my gosh! Someone put it on YouTube! This is a very happy day. 😀 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W245j8_eSGY

  5. John Casey says:

    My father and mother were both born in Ireland and met in Los Angeles.. This is one of the stories he used to recite from memory, He said that in Ireland at a party everyone was expected to sing, dance or have a poem or two. He couldn’t sing, was not much of a dancer. Thanks for posting.

  6. Mícheál Ó Cinnéide says:

    My grand aunt, who is 98 years young can still recite Paddy Kelly’s Dream from memory, which I found amazing on a visit with her in April of 2014 in California. The poem lasted some seven minutes. Fantastic.

  7. Thanks so much for publishing this poem. My Mom used to recite it to us children years ago. Like you, I wrote it down once but lost the copy. Unfortunately, I just remembered snatches of the poem. I am so happy to have a copy again. Bless you.

    • bakoheat says:

      Thank you. My grandfather lost his sight to diabetes and was bling the last 10-12 years of his life. He knew dozens of poems and stories and he would recite the Irishman’s Dream with all the dialects and brogues. Glad it was special to you too.

  8. AmyK says:

    You should try version for this from Joey Smallwood. He was the premier of Newfoundland, and does a snappy little version, it’s kind of part of iconic Newfoundland culture. I’m pretty sure you could call in and still request it “Like ya would”.

  9. Geraldine Cunningham says:

    My goodness its a miracle to see this verse and I am so delighted to find it. Today 21st March 2016, my mother Eileen, sister Maura, my son Harry and a very good family friend Enda (who is so kind to be driving us), are on our way to The Island Crematorium in Cork, with my father’s remains. He passed away peacefully last Tuesday night 15th March, at the age of 91. Daddy used to recite this verse so well for as long as I can recall. It was his party piece, he was so good at reciting it and imitating the various languages of the Italian, French etc. He called it “Kelly’s Dream”, I tried to find the words through Google but was unsuccessful …. So thank you for this. It has such a meaning for all of us. Geraldine

    • bakoheat says:

      My deepest sympathies, Geraldine. What a sad, but wonderful story you have written to me. My grandfather was James B. McGuire and his family came from somewhere in County Cork. His father abandoned the family and he, his brothers and sisters were sent off to America to each be raised separately by relatives. My grandfather was brought up in Toledeo, Ohio for a short time and then sent to St. Louis, Missouri until he was an adult. He made his way to Indiana, married and raised my father in Lafayette, Indiana. I spent half my life in Indiana and then moved to California in 1981.
      My grandfather loved Ireland and was quite a good Irish tenor. He sang Irish songs, told poems and taught most of them to me on his knee. He died at age 72, when I was 12. He was a big influence on my life. My father, James D, was also a wonderful Irishman who lived to be 89. He had a lifetime longing to visit Ireland, but never made it. I’m hoping to make my first trip to visit Ireland in a couple years when my wife retires. Maybe we can all get together and have a toast for your father and mine.
      Until then I will leave you with a quote I learned from my Grandfather:
      “Here’s to a long life and a merry one,
      A quick death and an easy one,
      A pretty girl and an honest one,
      A cold beer and another one.
      Sincerely,
      Dan McGuire

  10. Judy Bercej says:

    I love to hear this & my Gramp Browne loved to recite it

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