Miss Fogarty’s Cake

(Music for this piece has not yet been transcribed) * (Click here to hear the MP3 Version)

As I sat by my window last evening
The letter-man brought it to me,
A little gilt-edged invitation.
Saying, “Gilhooley, come over to tea.”
I knew that the Fogartys sent it,
So I went just for old friendship’s sake.
The first thing that they gave me to tackle
Was a slice of Miss Fogarty’s cake.

There were plums and prunes and cherries
There were citrons and raisins and cinnamon, too.
There was nutmeg, cloves, and berries
And a crust that was nailed on with glue.
There were caraway seeds in abundance,
Such that work up a fine stomach ache.
That could kill a man twice after eating a slice
Of Miss Fogarty’s Christmas cake.

Miss Mulligan wanted to try it,
But really it wasn’t no use,
For we worked on it over an hour,
And we couldn’t get none of it loose.
Till Murphy came in with a hatchet,
And Kelly came in with a saw.
That cake was enough, by the powers above,
To paralyze any man’s jaw.

Miss Fogarty, proud as a peacock,
Kept smiling and blinking away,
Till she flipped over Flanagan’s brogans
And she spilled the homebrew in her tay.
“Aye, Gilhooley, you’re not eating.
Try a little bit more for my sake.”
“Oh, no, Miss Fogarty,” then says I,
“For I’ve had quite enough of your cake.”


Maloney he took with the colic,
O’Donnell’s a pain in his head,
McNaughton lay down on the sofa
And he swore that he wished he was dead.
Miss Baily went into hysterics,
And there she did wriggle and shake,
And everyone swore they were poisoned just
From eating Miss Fogarty’s cake.


This song has a somewhat curious history, since there seem to be several localized versions. There is a songster text from about 1888, and this seems to be the source for most of the later texts, which are found from Florida to the Ozarks to Maine. A Newfoundland version known as “Trinity Cake” was probably remade by Johnny Burke.

And then there are the midwest versions. Dean has a text, and Peters took a version from Winfield Moody of Plainfield, Wisconsin.

Source: The text is the version sung by Laura MacKenzie, somewhat folk processed from that sung by the well-known Irish musician Mick Moloney.

With a couple of exceptions, Laura’s version is quite close to Dean’s (though in his version it’s Mrs. Fogarty who baked the lethal confection, not Miss Fogarty). The first difference lies in the chorus, where Dean’s version seems to have dropped a few syllables:

There was plums and prunes and cherries
There were citrons and cinnamon, too.
There was cloves, and spices, and berries,
And the crust it was nailed on with glue.
There were caraway seeds in abundance,
Sure it would build up a fine stomach ache.
It would kill a man twice after eating
A piece of Mrs. Fogarty’s cake.

The other difference is at the end of the third verse; instead of “For I’ve had quite enough of your cake,” the singer says “But I’d like the recate for that cake” — presumably a typo for “But I’d like the resate [=receipt] for that cake”.

One hates to think what he might have done with the recipe had he gotten it.

2 thoughts on “Miss Fogarty’s Cake

  1. KJ

    If you look at the lyrics to the LOC version (here: https://www.loc.gov/item/sm1883.01980/) it looks like it was written in a fake comic Irish brogue, so “recate” is less a typo and more a pronunciation instruction. Cue the confusion for modern audiences who don’t realize that recipes used to be called “receipts”.


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