Ruball na Muice

The Pig’s Tail

There is a song that was composed shortly after the 1798 Rebellion which has continued to be sung down to the present day (you can hear it on the Clannad album “Crann Úll”). It has a very peculiar one-line refrain that has been passed down with various endings:

Mise agus tusa agus ruball na muice agus bacach Shíle Andaí
... agus bacaigh Shíol Aindí
... agus Bockety Landy.

The confusion about the last words arises from the fact that they seem to be a corruption of “Bucky’s Highlanders”, the name of a Scottish regiment that fought for the crown. That still leaves us with “mise agus tusa agus ruball na muice” (me and you and the pig’s tail), which all the versions agree on. Why on earth “the pig’s tail”? The Irish-language writer Séamus Mac Annaidh titled his third novel “Rubble na Mickies” as a play on “ruball na muice”, and the historian Vincent Morley has theorized that “ruball na muice” is in fact a corruption of “rabble of Mickies”; in other words, the defeated rebels. If true, the noble pig is there quite by accident!

2009-08-06 CPD