“The Barley Mow”

Alternate titles: “Good Luck to the Barley Mow”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1838
Keywords: ritual drink nonballad
Found in: Britain(England(Lond,South,West)) Australia


Cumulative song toasting successive sizes of drinking vessels, and those who serve them: "The quart pot, pint pot, half-a-pint, gill pot, half-a-gill, quarter-gill, nipperkin, and the brown bowl/Here's good luck, good luck, good luck to the barley mow."


The brown bowl is to get sick into.

Sharp cites a reference noting that this was sung after a pre-Christian ritual called "crying the neck". -PJS

It was my understanding (don't know where I heard it) that the "Barley Mow" was a challenge -- if you fail to sing it through accurately and/or in one breath, you have to take another drink and, perhaps, buy a round for the house. Naturally, things tend to go downhill rapidly after the first error. - RBW



  1. Sharp-100E 99, "The Barley Mow" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Meredith/Anderson, pp. 70-71, "The Barley-Mow" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Kennedy 265, "The Barley Mow" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Roud #944
  6. BI, ShH99