“The Cow Ate the Piper”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1901 (O'Conor)
Keywords: humorous Ireland rebellion animal poverty homicide escape clothes corpse
Found in: Ireland


In the troubles of '98, piper Denny Byrne cannot find work. Needing shoes, he tries to take boots from an executed soldier -- but pulls down legs as well. He sleeps that night in a cowshed; in the morning the farmer assumes the cow has eaten the piper


The ballad is recorded on one of the CD's issued around the time of the bicentenial of the 1798 Irish Rebellion. See:

Terry Timmins, "The Cow Ate the Piper" (on "The Croppy's Complaint," Craft Recordings CRCD03 (1998); Terry Moylan notes) - BS

Historical references



  1. SHenry H29, pp. 53-54, "Denny Byrne, the Piper" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. O'Conor, p. 29, "The Cow That Ate the Piper" (1 text)
  3. OLochlainn-More 37, "The Cow Ate the Piper" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Moylan 60, "The Cow that Ate the Piper" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. PBB 91, "The Cow Ate the Piper" (1 text)
  7. Roud #8147
  8. BI, PBB091