“Tarriers” refer to the Irish workers who worked on the construction of the American railroads in the 1800s. (source)


(Melody by Charles Connolly, Lyrics by Thomas Casey, 1888)

1. Every morning at seven o’clock
There’s twenty tarriers a-workin’ at the rock
The boss comes along and he says, “Keep still
And come down heavy on the cast iron drill.”

So drill, ye tarriers, drill
Drill, ye tarriers, drill
Oh it’s work all day for the sugar in your tay
Down beyond the railway
So drill, ye tarriers, drill.

2. Our new foreman is John McCann
I’ll tell you sure, he’s a blamed mean man
Last week a premature blast went off
And a mile in the air went big Jim Goff. Refrain

3. Next time payday comes around
Jim Goff was short one buck he found
“What for?” asked he, then this reply
“You were docked for the time you were up in the sky.”

See also


  • Song with chords in 2 keys, Orff arrangement with glockenspiel countermelody (PDF)
  • MIDI file
  • Listen to the song

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5 thoughts on “Drill Ye Tarriers”

  1. I remember this song. We sang it in the fifth grade with Mrs. Weber. Over the past few years it’s wandered into and around my head. The internet, the melody and the lyric ‘drill ye tarriers’ came to me all at once. I was also hearing something about “well you work all day for sugar” in your pay? Nah… darn it what are those lyrics? It was just cool to find the lyrics and what the song was really about. I think we were being taught class wide how to play the flute-a-phone. There may not have been enough time to get the meaning of the music. Oh yeah fifth grade was forty-six years ago. It was great to find and read your article. Thank you very much.

    1. “you work all day for the sugar in your tae”. Tae is kind of a scottish/irish spelling of the the word Tea. Sugar was costly, pay not very good, hence working all day to make enough money just to have some much needed sugar in your tea.

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  3. The lyrics are different than what I remember. Knocked dan Dugen right up to the moon. When Dan came down he said the ride was Cc ok but it happen to be he wasn’t going that way and it’s drill ye tarriers drill.

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