In the town of Athy, one Jeremy Lanigan battered away till he hadn’t a shilling.
His father died, made him a man again, left him a farm and ten acres of ground.
Myself, to be sure, got invitations for the boys and girls I might ask.
Having been asked, friends and relations danced like bees around a sweet cask.
There was lashings of drink wine for the ladies, potatoes and cake bacon and tea.
Nolans and Dolans and all the O’Gradys, courting the girls and dancing away.
While songs went round as plenty as water,
The harps that are sounded through Tara’s old hall,
Biddie Grey and the rat catcher’s daughter singing away at Lanigan’s ball.
Six long months I spent in Dublin, six long months doing nothing at all,
Six long months I spent in Dublin, learning to dance for Lanigan’s ball.
She stepped out, I stepped in again. I stepped out and she stepped in again.
She stepped out, I stepped in again, learning to dance for Lanigan’s ball.
They were doing all kinds of nonsensical dances all around in a whirligig.
Julie and I soon banished their nonsense,
Out on the floor for a reel and a jig.
How the girls all got mad at me for they thought the ceilings would fall.
I spent six months in Brook’s Academy learning to dance for Lanigan’s ball.
Well the boys were merry and the girls all hearty
Dancing around in their couples and groups.
An accident happened; Terence McCarthy,
He put his boot through Miss Finnerty’s hoops.
She fell down in a faint and cried, ‘Holy murder!’
Called her brothers and gathered them all.
Carmody swore he’d go no further till he got revenge at Lanigan’s ball.
Boys oh boys ’tis then there was ructions. I got a belt from Phelim Mc Hugh.
I replied to his introduction, kicked up a terrible hullabaloo.
Moloney the piper was near gettin’ smothered.
They leapt on his pipes, bellows, chanter and all.
Boys and girls all got entangled and that put an end to Lanigan’s ball.
There’s also a joke version of this around, called “Learning to Dance for Fianna Fáil!!