Lillibullero jig

Also known as Lilibullero, Lilliburlero, Lilly Bolero, Lily Bolero, My Thing Is My Own, Old Woman Tossed Up, Old Woman Tossed Up In A Blanket, Protestant Bouys, The Protestant Boys, White Cockade.

There are 13 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

Lillibullero appears in 2 other tune collections.

Lillibullero has been added to 7 tune sets.

Lillibullero has been added to 111 tunebooks.

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Three settings

X: 1
T: Lillibullero
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:ABA c2c|BcB d2d|ceA d2c|BAG A2E|
ABA c2c|BcB d2d|ceA d2c|BAG A3:|
|:a2e f2e|ef=g f2e|efg agf|edc B3|
fed cde|edc Bcd|e2A d2c|BAG A3:|
X: 2
T: Lillibullero
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
GAG B2 B|ABA c3|BdG c2 B|AGF G2 D|
GAG B2 B|ABA c3|BdG c2 B|AGF G3||
g2 f g2 d|de=f e2 d|def gde|dcB A2 d|
edc Bcd|edc Bcd|egG c2 B|AGF G3||
X: 3
T: Lillibullero
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
D3 F3|EFE G3|FAD G2 F|E3 D3||
d2 c d2 A|AB=c B2 A|ABc dAB|AGF E2 A|
# Added by JACKB .

Eleven comments


One of the best-known Irish tunes of all time. It has been around since at least the early days of the 17th century, when it was the tune of an Irish nursery song. It was used later on that century as a marching song by soldiers, and also as a tune for political songs in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Its attribution to the English composer Henry Purcell, who published "Lillibullero" in his compilation "Music’s Handmaid" of 1689 as a "new Irish tune", is doubtful. Purcell probably hijacked the tune as his own - common practice in the musical world of that time.
In later years the BBC has used Lillibullero as its signature tune for its World Service broadcasts. Not a bad lineage for a tune that’s 4 centuries old!
Although "Lillibullero" doesn’t occur in most ITM tune compilations I have found it in a New England fiddler’s tunebook published some years ago.
The spelling of the tune’s name varies (I wouldn’t call them "other names"). Common variants are "Lillburlero" and "Lilliburilero".


And the x-rated version!!

I’ve heard this tune with some fairly suggestive "adult" words, which makes me smile when I hear it!

The BBC did an early music version but got lots of complaints so they reverted back to their original, which is by a military band. I think they’ve dropped it now…

Son of x-rated II: It returns!

Okay, okay, here are the words. Only offensive if you’ve that sort of mind!!!:

My THING is my own (Verses 1,2,5,6,7,9,12 of 12)

I a tender young Maid have been courted by many,
Of all sorts and Trades as ever was any:
A spruce Haberdasher first spake me fair,
But I would have nothing to do with Small ware.

MY Thing is my Own, and I’ll keep it so still,
Yet other young Lasses may do what they will,
MY Thing is my Own, and I’ll keep it so still,
Yet other young Lasses may do what they will.

A sweet scented Courtier did give me a Kiss,
And promis’d me Mountains if I would be his,
But I’ll not believe him, for it is too true,
Some Courtiers do promise much more than they do.

My thing is my own …

A Master of Musick came with an intent,
To give me a Lesson on my Instrument,
I thank’d him for nothing, but bid him be gone,
For my little Fiddle should not be plaid on.

My thing is my own …

An Usurer came with abundance of Cash,
But I had no mind to come under his Lash,
He profer’d me Jewels, and a great store of Gold,
But I would not Mortgage my little Free-hold.

My thing is my own …

A blunt Lieutenant surpriz’d my Placket [nb A pocket or slit]
And fiercely began to rifle and sack it,
I mustered my Spirits up and became bold,
And fore’d my Lieutenant to quit his strong hold.

My thing is my own …

A fine dapper Taylor, with a Yard in his Hand,
Did prefer his Service to be at Command,
He talke’d of a slit I had above Knee,
But I’ll have no Taylors to stitch it for me.

My thing is my own …

Now here I could reckon a hundred and more,
Besides all the Gamesters recited before,
That made their addresses in hopes of a snap
But as young as I was I understood Trap,

My thing is my own, and I’ll keep it so still,
Until I be Marryed, say Men what they will,
My thing is my own, and I’ll keep it so still,
Until I be Marryed, say Men what they will.

Son of x-rated…

Offensive? Perish the thought. These carefully crafted lyrics were written in the 17th or 18th centuries so they must be Literature. What better place for ITM-related Literature than on this most cultured of sites?


Lillibullero (jig)

At a session at the Plume of Feathers in Bristol a couple of days ago a singer sang this tune with the lyrics of the traditional song "Nottingham Ale" - words which look as if they are as old as the tune Lillibullero itself.

The lyrics of Nottingham Ale are:

When Venus, the goddess of beauty and love
Arose from the froth that swam on the sea
Minerva sprang out of the cranium of Jove
A coy, sullen dame as most mortals agree
But Bacchus, they tell us, that prince of good fellows
Was Jupiter’s son, pray attend my tale
They who thus chatter mistake quite the matter
He sprang from a barrel of Nottingham Ale

CHORUS: Nottingham Ale, me boys, Nottingham Ale
No liquor on earth is like Nottingham Ale
Nottingham Ale, me boys, Nottingham Ale
No liquor on earth is like Nottingham Ale

You bishops and curates, priests, deacons and vicars
When once you have tasted, you all must agree
That Nottingham Ale is the best of all liquors
And none understands a good creature like thee.
It dispels every vapor, saves pen, ink and paper
For when you’ve a mind in your pulpit to rail
It’ll open your throats, you may preach without notes
When inspired with a bumper of Nottingham Ale.

CHORUS: Nottingham Ale, etc

Ye poets who pray on the Hellican brooke
The nectar of Gods and the juice of the vine,
You say none can write well except they invoke
The friendly assistance of one of the Nine.
His liquor surpassed the streams of Parnassus
That nectar, Ambrosia, on which Gods regale
Experience will show it, naught makes a good poet
Like quantum sufficients of Nottingham Ale.

CHORUS: Nottingham Ale, etc

And you doctors, who more executions have done
With powder and potion and bolus and pill
Than hangman with halter, or soldier with gun
Miser with famine or lawyer with quill
To dispatch us the quicker, you forbid us malt liquor
Till our bodies consume, and our faces grow pale
Let him mind you, who pleases, what cures all diseases
A plentiful glass of good Nottingham Ale.

CHORUS: Nottingham Ale, etc

These lyrics are, as I recollect, fairly close to what was sung at the session.

I have downloaded the above lyrics from, where they were submitted by an anonymous member.

BTW, seems to be an extraordinary useful site containing the lyrics of over half a million songs.


It isn’t just that words can be offensive, often they are also crafted to cause offense. Historian Norman Davies quotes 9 verses of the version that follows in Appendix 34 of his 1999 1,078pp capsulization "The Isles".
He adds that the music has been attributed to Henry Purcell(1659-1695)

<< Lilli Burlero

1.Ho brother Teague, dost hear de decree?
Lilli burlero, bullen a la
Dat we shall have a new deputie,
Lilli burlero, bullen a la

Lero, lero, lilli burlero,
Lilli burlero, bullen a la
Lero lero, lero lero,
Lilli burlero, bullen a la.

2.Ho, by my Soul, it is a Talbot;
And he will cut all de English throat,

Though by my soul, de English do prate,
De law’s on dere side and de divil knows what,

But if Dispense do come from de Pope,
We’ll hang Magna Charta and demselves on a rope.

And de good Talbot is now made a Lord,
And with his brave lads he’s coming aboard.

Who all In France have taken a swear,
Dat day will have no Protestant heir.

O but why does he stay behind?
Ho, by my soul, ‘tis a Protestant wind,

Now that Tyrconnel is come ashore,
And we shall have Commissions galore.

And he dat will not go to de Mass,
Shall be turned out and look like an ass,

Now, now de hereticks all will go down,
By Chris and Shaint Patrick’s de nation’s our own.

Dere was an old prophecy found in a bog,
Dat our land would be ruled by an ass and a dog.

So now dis old prophecy’s coming to pass,
For James is de dog and Tyrconnel’s de ass.

Note: This immensely catchy tune first turned up in 1641 in
Ulster. In 1688, King James II designated Colonel Richard Talbot,
a Catholic, as Earl of Tyrconnel and sent him to Ireland as Lord
Lieutenant. This enraged the English and Irish Protestants, who
took up this song-"For James is de dog and Tyrconnel’s de ass"-as
their protest. It’s been claimed that this tune "whistled James
from the throne of England." A nice, if apocryphal, line.

Tune also called "The Protestant Boys" >>
(Lyrics pasted from:

The tune was played and used on both sides, or has it? I thought The Isles mentioned other versions of it, but on verification, it doesn’t.

Lillibullero, X:2

This is the usual setting of Lillibullero - and it’s the version that’s used by the the BBC Radio World Service. Also note also that it is played as a 16-bar tune - i.e. without repeats. This version is also used as in march in the British Army (Royal Corps of Transport) - although the latter play it ABB in the key of Eb major.

Lillibullero - Old Woman Tossed Up in a Blanket

The tune occurs in many Cotswold morris dance traditions, where it is known as "Old Woman Tossed Up in a Blanket", or more simply just as "Old Woman Tossed Up".

Lillibullero - Old Woman Tossed Up in a Blanket - Also a Song

There was an old woman tossed up in a blanket
Seventeen times as high as the moon.
But where she was going, no mortal could tell it,
For under her arm, she carried a broom.
"Old woman, old woman, old woman,’ quoth I,
"Whither, ah whither, ah whither so high?"
"To sweep the cobwebs from the sky".
"May I come with you?"
"Aye, by and by".