“County Jail (II)”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1860 (broadside, Bodleian Firth b.26(213))
Keywords: violence food prisoner ordeal
Found in: Ireland Canada(Mar)


"I used to live a glorious life [until]... they piped into a railroad mail And carried me off to County Jail." The singer recounts the rules, initiation, awful food, beds; Jonah was better off in the whale; "glorious times in County Jail"


Mackenzie says his title of "Kirtle Gaol" "is a contraction, or corruption, of 'Kirkdale.'"

Mackenzie lists a number of broadside versions including O'Conor pp. 121-122. He lists American copies of "County Jail" which are not indexed yet. The versions of this that I've seen do not have the bedbug vs cockroach sporting event but do insist that Jonah was better off inside the whale and Lazarus in his shroud was better dressed.

The Bodleian broadsides agree in the details except for the location of the jail.

Broadside LOCSinging sb10045a: H. De Marsan dating per _Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song_ by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS

Cross references



  1. Mackenzie 148, "Kirtle Gaol" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. O'Conor, pp. 121-122, "County Jail" (1 text)
  3. Roud #964
  4. BI, Mack148