The Rakes of Mallow

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

Mallow has been termed “Irish Bath.” It possesses a moderately warm spring approaching in quality the hot well-waters of Bristol, gushing from a limestone rock, a long assembly room, nicely laid out walks, grottos, cascades and canals, and above all fashion, drew a numerous assembly thither annually in search of health or amusement. As early as 1753 there appeared in the “Ulster Miscellany” some humorous verses in praise of the institution of which the following lines are a specimen:—

“For all that you are bound to do,

Is just to gape and swallow;

You’ll find by that you’ll rowl in fat

Most gloriously in Mallow.”

The verses are to the air of “Ballyspellin.” Ballyspellin itself was a famous spa in County Kilkenny on which Dr. Sheridan, Swift’s friend, wrote a ballad on the occasion of his visit to it in 1728. The first lines are:—

“All you that would refine your blood,

As pure as famed Llewellyn;

By waters clear come every year

To drink at Ballyspellin.”

“Sherry” sent a copy of his verses to the Dean who was at that time on his lengthened visit to Sir Arthur and Lady Acheson, at Markethill, County Armagh, and Swift sent a scurrilous poem in reply, in which he roundly abuses Ballyspellin and its frequenters and holds up for admiration the charms of the rustic beauties of Markethill. The following lines are about the best:—

“We have a girl deserves an earl

She came from Enniskillen,

So fair, so young, no such among

The belles of Ballyspellin.”

Thanks to the song composed to celebrate their exploits, all the world knows of “The Rakes of Mallow,” who are recorded as:—

“Beauing, belling, dancing, drinking,

Breaking windows, damning, sinking,

Ever raking, never thinking

Like the rakes of Mallow.”

To the air of “Sandy lent the man his Mull.”