The folk hero appeal of Whiskey in the Jar

A Nip Against the Cold (oil on canvas) by Erskine Nicol 1869
A Nip Against the Cold

Because of its title, Whiskey in the Jar is often seen as a drinking song, celebrating the wild life.

That doesn’t really do it justice though. Whiskey in the Jar isn’t really about drinking at all; it’s about rebellion against authority and has a sub-plot involving betrayal by a lover. The highwayman in the story is a forerunner of many American folk heroes such as Jesse James.

The song’s themes of rebellion and betrayal strike a chord with people all over the world.

– as shown by the fact that it has become so popular through the performances of major rock bands like Metallica and Thin Lizzy.

Categorized as Blog, Songs

By Patrick Kehoe

Pat Kehoe is a writer for Irish Music Daily. His favourite Irish music bands are the Dubliners and Planxty.