The Longest Song Wiki

Originally written by Dominic Behan for Brendan Behan's play "The Quare Fella" in 1954, this song has been performed by countless folk bands and singers, and is widely considered a staple of the folk music community. The play takes place in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin, Ireland, and deals with moral issues of the death penalty and homosexuality (which under Irish law in the 1950s was not only criminal but a crime for which the death penalty was commonplace).

In the context of prison slang for Ireland in the 1950s, a Screw is a prison guard, and a Lag is a prisoner with a sentence greater than 5 years.

Lyrics

These lyrics are based on the version performed by the Longest Johns in their Livestream, the original lyrics can be found below.

A hungry feeling, it came o'er me stealing
And the mice they were squealing in my prison cell

{Chorus}
And the ould triangle, It went jingle jangle
All along the banks of the Royal Canal.

To begin the morning, the warden was bawling:
"Get up out'a bed, boy, and clean up your cell!"

{Chorus}

Well the Screw was peeping and the Lag lay sleeping
as I was weepin' for my gal, Sal

{Chorus}

In the female prison there are seventeen women,
And I wish to God it was with them that I did dwell

{Chorus}

On a fine spring evenin', the Lag lay dreaming,
and the seagulls are wheelin' high above the wall

{Chorus to finish}

Behan's Lyrics

Oh! a hungry feeling, it came o'er me stealing
And the mice they were squealing in my prison cell--

cho: And the ould triangle, It went jingle jangle
All along the banks of the Royal Canal.

Now the screw was peeping while the lag was sleeping
And he was dreaming of his gal, Sal,

And to begin the morning, the warders bawling
"Ah, get up you bowsey and clean out your cell!"

Now in the female prison there are seventeen women
And it's among those women I would like to dwell;

Now the wind was rising and the sun declining
While I lay there pining in my prison cell.


Source: Mudcat