The Dubliners’ version of Poor Paddy Works on the Railway, which was later adopted by The Pogues, has an extra refrain which is sung at a much higher tempo:
I was wearing corduroy britches
Digging ditches, pulling switches, dodging hitches
I was workin’ on the railway.
This version of the song is usually performed with sweeping variations in tempo from the slow lament of the “weary of the railway” refrain to the more upbeat refrain of “digging ditches, pulling switches”.
The Dubliners’ version is also set firmly in the UK, with reference to Hartlepool and Crewe, two traditional railway towns, and to the old Leeds Selby Railway.
Irish navvies brought the song to America
The Irish navvies also brought the song across the Atlantic and made it popular in the United States. Some versions are known as Pat Works on the Railway and Paddy on the Railway. There is also a version in America called Paddy Works on the Erie. It has very similar lyrics but the tune is more reminiscent of When Johnny Comes Marching Home.
Poor Paddy Works on the Railway has been recorded by numerous artists including The Dubliners, Ewan MacColl and The Pogues.