Dr. John Stafford, Elphin, County Roscommon, was a lifelong friend of Carolan's. He attended Carolan when he was dying and was one of the pall-bearers at his funeral. Dr. Stafford was a "bound apprentice to an apothecary in Mullingar" and when his apprenticeship was over he moved to Elphin. Dr. Stafford's second son was a principal of a college in Paris. This song was supposed to have been composed around 1725. There are two accounts of the tune.
The first account: Carolan was living in Boyle and was temporarily abstaining from liquor on medical advice. As a result he was depressed and neglected his music. After six weeks he asked for a glass or whiskey, just to smell. Instead of smelling, he drank it and "after his spirits were restored" he composed this tune.
The second account is not as enchanting. On his way from Tulsk to Alderford Carolan called on Dr. Stafford who persuaded Carolan to stay for dinner. Dinner turned into long night of merriment and in the morning Carolan composed the tune.
It is possible that a second verse was added by Carolan's friend and poet Charles MacCabe, who with Carolan's consent, often added supplementary verses to his songs.
If sick or strong I chanced to be,
I went along - 'twas well for me!-
To Doctor John to find relief,
Brave Stafford, skillful leech is he!
About the witching hour we would start our carouse,
By morn our zest for whiskey was the sharper:
Sensible man! for such was his plan
To put life in the poor blind harper!
Chorus: Sometimes tipsy, sometimes raking,
Wild in frenzy, harpstrings breaking,
The custom that we followed, we will never let it die!
I tell you once again, Sirs,
I will always maintain, Sirs,
For a long merry life of it, be drinking for aye!