‘Dennis and the Excise Man’ © Joe Canning 2016. All Rights Reserved.

‘Dennis and the Excise Man’
© Joe Canning 2016. All Rights Reserved.

A long time ago in a town I know well,
stood an old now long gone frontier post.
Harry the excise man enjoyed his work,
confiscating the goods at the zone,
Smugglers he’d nab coming over the Foyle,
entering old Donegal from Tyrone,
but one man evaded him day after day
when he raised up that uniformed arm.

For years Harry tried to catch bold Mc Elroy
A decent and hard-working man.
On Saturdays Harry would watch and he’d wait,
for bold Dennis to come from Strabane,
Convinced in his mind that he’d get him one day,
and wipe the wry smile from his face,
Harry thought smuggling a dastardly crime,
and he deemed it a crime ‘gainst the State.

At nights on a stool down in Bannigan’s bar
They drank whiskey and pints side by side.
He jested to Dennis that his day would come,
and he’d watch till the day that he died.
Said Dennis to Harry, “you’re wasting your time”
I’m an honest man true to the state,
on Saturdays I just like riding me bike,
and that smugglin’ larks not to me taste”.

Said Harry to Dennis “Sir don’t lie to me,
I don’t heed the words that you talk.
I know that you’ve something to hide every week,
As the border at Lifford ye cross,
I’ve searched that old biscuit tin strapped to yer bike,
but no contraband have I found,
And I know in me bones each time I wave ye on,
that yer getting one over on me”.

Well Harry he watched his adversary for years,
As each Saturday he did invite; Dennis to remove
the biscuit tin lid that as usual was strapped to the bike.
He searched the accoutrements contained within,
but it seemed Mc Elroy broke no law,
frustration was etched on the Excise man’s face,
as he thought that his tactics were flawed.

Each week the bold Dennis crossed over again,
and went through the same old rigmarole,
there was spanners and bolts all laid out on the ground,
a sandwich and head for a hoe.
Harry bewildered just scratched his bald head,
went reluctantly back to his post .
Dennis just whistled and went on his way,
Old Harry was thwarted once more.

Well the years they went by and old Harry retired,
and his bike Dennis he rode no more.
Old age and rheumatics to both had set in,
and for both cat and mouse games were o’er.
In Bannigan’s bar they bought pints once again,
and they chatted of times passed away,
Harry asked Dennis to tell him the truth,
And this to him Dennis did say.

“Well Harry, I know you were good at your job,
and I know you were out to catch me,
A bit like the Mafia and Eliot Ness
down the years Harry, don’t you agree?
But you wasted your time on that old biscuit tin,
It was just a distraction you see,
You missed out on my method of transport back then,
Aye!! ye missed the new bike every week.

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