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Oh, Delaney had a donkey that everyone admired,
Temporary lazy and permanently tired,
A leg at ev'ry corner, balancing its head,
And a tail to let you know which end he wanted to be fed.
Riley slyly said, "We've underrated it,
Why not train it?" Then they took a rag,
They rubbed it, scrubbed it, they oiled and lubricated it,
They got it to the post and when the starter dropped the flag...
There was Riley pushin' it, pullin' it, and shushin' it,
Hogan, Logan, and ev'ryone in town,
Lined up attacking it and punchin' it and smackin it.
They might as well have tried to pull the town hall down.
The donkey was eyein' them and openly defyin' them,
Winkin', blinkin' and twistin' out of place;
Riley reversin' it and ev'rybody cursin' it,
The day Delaney's donkey ran the half-mile race.
The muscles of the mighty, never known to flinch,
They couldn't move the donkey a quarter of an inch;
Delaney lay exhausted, hangin' 'round its throat,
With a grip just like a Scotsman on a five-pound note.
Darter Carter lined up with the rest of them,
When it saw them, it was willing then;
It raced up, braced up, ready for the best of them,
They started off to cheer and then it changed its mind again.
Well, there was Riley pushin' it, shovin' it, and shushin' it,
Hogan, Logan, and Mary Anne McGraw,
She started pokin' it and grabbin' it and chokin' it,
It kicked her in the bustle and it laughed, hee-hah!
The Whigs and Conservatives, the radical superlatives,
Liberals and Tories, they hurried to the place,
Stood there in unity, helping their community,
The day Delaney's Donkey ran the half-mile race.
The crowd began to cheer it, and Rafferty the judge,
He came up to assist them, but still it wouldn't budge;
The jockey who was riding it, little John Magee,
He was so thoroughly disgusted he went home and had his tea.
Hagan, Fagan, they're students of psychology,
Swore that they'd shift it with some dynamite;
They bought it, brought it, and without apology,
The donkey gave a sneeze and blew the whole lot out of sight.
There was Riley pushin' it, shovin' it, and shushin' it,
Hogan, Logan and all the bally crew,
Police and Auxiliary, the Garrison Artillery,
The Second Enniskillens, and the Life Guards, too.
They seized it and harried it, and picked it up and carried it,
Cheered it, steered it to the winning place;
Then the bookies they all drew aside and they all committed suicide,
Oh, the day Delaney's Donkey won the half-mile race!
This variant was recorded by Ryan's Fancy (Looking Back, ©1972, Audat Records).
See more songs by Ryan's Fancy.