Crossmaglen Couplet

John Johnson Marshall
Chapter V (3) - Start of Chapter

A most uncomplimentary epithet is “Crossmaglen where there are more rogues than honest men.” This is an abbreviation of what seems to have been the original form of the rhyme:—

“Between Carrickmacross and Crossmaglen,

There are more rogues than honest men.”

which recalls the couplet quoted in White’s “A Month in Yorkshire,”—

“Hutton, Rudby, Entrepen,

Far more rogues than honest men.”

The word “rogue” is used in its more ancient sense to imply a sturdy beggar or vagrant. In the old Vestry Book of Creggan, in which parish Crossmaglen is situated there is an entry under the year 1765—

“Resolved that £1 be given to anyone who will tell us who are the Rogues who are riding our horses about the country during service.”

It may have, however, a much older origin, as there is a townland in the district named Edinashara—anglice, a receptacle for thieves, and another townland named Annaghgad, which popular tradition makes Aonac na nGadurde—the robbers’ fair. Probably the original term was Eanac-an-ngad—the marsh of the willows or osiers. See “Historical and Statistical Account of the Barony of Upper Fews in the County Armagh, 1838, by John Davidson.

However, Crossmaglen has a better title to fame than the widely known couplet, for:—

“It wasn’t the man from Garvagh,

Nor the man from oul’ Kilrea,

But the daylin man from Crossmaglen

Put whiskey in my tay.”

And greater hospitality in Ireland it would be impossible to show.