“Whiskey in the Jar” tells a tale of highway robbery and romantic betrayal that has been popular for over 200 years. A song with real attitude, it’s been performed by everybody from the Dubliners (Irish Drinking Songs) to Metallica (Garage, Inc.) and shows no sign of fading from the pub scene. The first eight bars are shown below.
It’s somewhat unclear where this little drama took place. For years I’ve sung the first line to include “the far Gilgarry mountains,” blissfully unaware that I’d garbled the name back in my checkered youth. But I refuse to take too much blame, as there seem to be abundant variants besides mine. “Far famed Kerry Mountains” and “Cork and Kerry Mountains” are pretty fair candidates for accuracy. And Shane McGowan of the Pogues sang “Kilmagenny Mountains” even though the closest thing to Kilmagenny in Ireland is a Kilmaganny Parish in County Kilkenny. So take this excerpt in the loose and forgiving form in which it’s offered and pick whatever mountains seem best.
This tune is instantly recognizable as an Irish pub favorite. Play the first eight bars with this excerpt from Irish Songs for Guitar:
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