(True Story As recounted in the Cullybaccy
The Crossroads By JP Mc Menamin
Paddy Mc Sorley played the fiddle,
My God he could make her sing,
He could draw tears with a sad lament,
Smiles with a Highland Fling.
He was known throughout the country,
None with him could compare,
The lark looked on in wonder,
When he played a quivering air.
People came from far and near,
And none could understand,
The magic of the music,
From the fiddle and the man.
Fiddlers went back home in sorrow,
Never more to play,
Sat by cold hearths in silence,
The fiddles were thrown away.
Paddy was the king of fiddlers,
There was none to take his place,
But Paddy wasn’t happy,
There was a frown upon his face.
Paddy thought he could play better,
Be more nimble with the bow,
Move his fingers like quick-silver,
From the high notes to the low.
Paddy often watched the lightening,
And his fingers they would twitch,
”If I could harness that”, thought Paddy,
”I’d be famous ,I’d be rich.”
Paddy practised long into the night,
By a candle’s feeble glow,
He reached a height of excellence,
But beyond, he could not go.
Paddy threw the fiddle from him,
Sat dejected in the gloom,
Then a small voice whispered in his ear,
Though no one was in the room.
A sibilant, hissing whisper,
From the red hot pit of hell,
”Paddy, you should meet my Master
Ah, he can play the fiddle well”.
“He’ll teach you Paddy” hissed the voice,
”So rosin up your bow
Tomorrow night at midnight
To the crossroads you must go”
“Ah, Paddy, Paddy, Paddy”
Laughed the small voice in his ear,
”My master is a gentleman
Buck up now, have no fear”
The night was dark and stormy,
The wind moaned soft and low,
Paddy headed for the crossroads
With the fiddle and his bow.
The Devil stood there waiting,
In a dapper suit of black,
He had neither tail nor cloven hoof
Nor hump upon his back.
The devil smiled at Paddy,
He seemed a decent man,
”Glad to meet you” said the devil
Shaking Paddy by the hand.
”Now Paddy” said the devil
”I don’t mean you any harm
I’m a fiddler too” the devil smiled
Taking Paddy by the arm
“People call me names” the devil said
“But they don’t understand
The only reason I exist
Is to help my fellow man”.
”But Paddy dear, as you know well
Nothings ever free
We must come to some agreement
Fair for you and fair for me”.
”All I ask” the devil said
“For helping you tonight
You must never , never play the tune
‘The Girl who walks in white’.”
“That’s all I ask” the devil said
“And it’s all I have to say
I’ll put lightening at your fingertips
But that tune you mustn’t play”
“Let’s shake on it” the devil said
Glancing at a shooting star
The devil gave a dazzling smile
Thunder sounded from afar.
Paddy walked off in the dark
His face was pale and wan
His fingers tingled with a red hot glow
Where the devil shook his hand.
Strange airs were running through his head
His step was sure and light
And he felt a strange compulsion
To play, ‘The girl who walks in white’.
“It’s just one tune”, thought Paddy
“That I’m not allowed to play
I beat the devil”, Paddy thought
“It’s a small enough price to pay.”
The rest of course, is history
Paddy Mc Sorley was a star
The fiddler with the lightening touch
Was known both near and far.
He played in front of Kings and Queens
Emperors and Tsars
A long way from the small thatched house
And the little country bars.
His concerts were a sell out
People scrambled round the door
The rich drove up in carriages
There was no room for the poor.
But when the music ended
And he was alone at night
He fought a strange compulsion
To play ‘The girl who walks in white’.
The years rolled on as years will do
The money it rolled on
Yet, happiness eluded him
His face grew gaunt and thin.
His music still enchanted
His fingers still could fly
Yet, his face was full of sadness
A sense of longing in eyes.
He walked the floor impatiently
Found it hard to sleep at night
His fingers twitched in longing
To play ‘The girl who walks in white’
His doctor recommended rest
So Paddy sailed back home
He felt the crossroad calling
As he sailed back o’er the foam
Paddy bought a large estate
The biggest ever seen
Wrought iron notes on the double gates
And the legend, ‘Fiddlers Green’.
But still poor Paddy found no rest
He walked the floors all night
Just one tune was in his head
‘The girl who walks in white’.
Then one dark and stormy night
When wind and rain did blow
Paddy picked his fiddle up
To the Crossroads he did go.
Paddly called out to the devil
To release him from his pain
In a flash of lightening Paddy saw
A young girl in the rain
“Oh, gentle Sir” the maiden said
“On this dark and terrible night
Will you put your fiddle to your chin
And play ‘The girl who walks in white’ ”
“I cannot, dear maiden” Paddy said
“Though it breaks my hearty in two
I made a bargain long ago
To my word, I must be true”
“But dearest sir” the maiden said
“I know this to be true
If you will lift the spell from me
The spell will lift from you”.
“Please play that air” the young girl cried
“Release us from our pain
And you and I will leave this place
And worry not again”.
“Three times, I’ve asked, dear gentle sir
Please release me from my plight”
Paddy, picked the fiddle up
And played ‘The girl who walks in white’.
A flash of lightening split the sky
The fiddle broke in two
The devil stood in the maiden’s place
“Paddy boy, I’ve come for you”
The devil wasn’t smiling
Smoke was poring from his eyes
He had two horns and cloven hooves
And muttered, “All is lies”
“All is lies” the devil screamed
“The maiden was but me
You played ‘The girl who walks in white’
Your soul shall be my fee”.
“I tempted you” the devil laughed
“You succumb to greed and pride
Your soul will burn for ever
Down in hell, you shall reside.”
Paddy fell down on his knees
Pleading for another stay
“You played the tune” the Devil said
“Now the fiddler you must pay”.
“Your time on earth is over
I have no pity for your plight
You sought me out at this old crossroads
And his soul flew straight to hell”.
They found poor Paddy’s body
When the sun came up at dawn
Paddy’s hands were bent and twisted
The fiddler’s magic lost and gone.
No one came to claim the body
No religion claimed the right
They buried Paddy at the crossroads
On a dark and stormy night.
No headstone marked his passing
No one ever kneels to pray
No one sheds a tear for Paddy
As he rots beneath the clay.
In this red-hot pit of hell
Imps and demons shriek and yell
Stoke the fires that don’t go out
Shovel more coal with fiendish shout.
Sizzling souls turn on the spit
In the dark and hellish pit
To burn forever and a day
Bargain with the devil? He’ll make you pay.
Black smoke rises from the furnace
Caverns lit by hellish light
Paddy’s soul, screams out in torment
For playing ‘The girl who walks in white’.
© Copyright 2009
J P McMenamin