The following Irish folk song inspired the title of the memoir, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye, jointly written by John F. Kennedy aides David F. Powers and Kenneth P. O'Donnell (in collaboration with journalist Joe McCarthy). The song exists in many forms, some of them satirical (two are provided below). For more information please contact Kennedy.Library@nara.gov or 617.514.1629.

Lyrics to "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye"

WHILE going the road to sweet Athy,
Hurroo! hurroo!
While going the road to sweet Athy,
Hurroo! hurroo!
While going the road to sweet Athy,
A stick in my hand and a drop in my eye,
A doleful damsel I heard cry:
“Och Johnny, I hardly knew ye!
With drums and guns, and guns and drums,
The enemy nearly slew ye;
My darling dear, you look so queer,
Och, Johnny, I hardly knew ye!

“Where are your eyes that looked so mild?
Hurroo! hurroo!
Where are your eyes that looked so mild?
Hurroo! hurroo!
Where are your eyes that looked so mild,
When my poor heart you first beguiled?
Why did you run from me and the child?
Och, Johnny, I hardly knew ye!
With drums, etc.

“Where are the legs with which you run?
Hurroo! hurroo!
Where are thy legs with which you run?
Hurroo! hurroo!
Where are the legs with which you run
When first you went to carry a gun?
Indeed, your dancing days are done!
Och, Johnny, I hardly knew ye!
With drums, etc.

It grieved my heart to see you sail,
Hurroo! hurroo!
It grieved my heart to see you sail,
Hurroo! hurroo!
It grieved my heart to see you sail,
Though from my heart you took leg-bail;
Like a cod you’re doubled up head and tail,
Och, Johnny, I hardly knew ye!
With drums, etc.

“You haven’t an arm and you haven’t a leg,
Hurroo! hurroo!
You haven’t an arm and you haven’t a leg,
Hurroo! hurroo!
You haven’t an arm and you haven’t a leg,
You’re an eyeless, noseless, chickenless egg;
You’ll have to be put with a bowl to beg:
Och, Johnny, I hardly knew ye!
With drums, etc.

“I’m happy for to see you home,
Hurroo! hurroo!
I’m happy for to see you home,
Hurroo! hurroo!
I’m happy for to see you home,
All from the Island of Sulloon;
So low in flesh, so high in bone;
Och, Johnny, I hardly knew ye!
With drums, etc.

“But sad it is to see you so,
Hurroo! hurroo!
But sad it is to see you so,
Hurroo! hurroo!
But sad it is to see you so,
And to think of you now as an object of woe,
Your Peggy’ll still keep you on as her beau;
Och, Johnny, I hardly knew ye!
With drums and guns, and guns and drums
The enemy nearly slew ye;
My darling dear, you look so queer,
Och, Johnny, I hardly knew ye.

Parodies

WHERE are those legs with which you run
When you went to shoulder the gun?
Indeed your dancing days are done.
Oh Johnny, I hardly knew you!

Where are those eyes that were so mild,
When of my love you me beguiled?
Why did you skedaddle from me and the child?
Oh Johnny, I hardly knew you!

In Swinburnese
Alas! for the going of swiftness, for the feet of the running of three,
thee,
When thou wentest among the swords and the shoutings of
captains made shrill.
Woe is me for the pleasant places! Yea, one shall say thy glee
"It is not," and as for delight, the feet of thy dancing are
still.

Also thine eyes were mild as a lowlit flame of fire,
When thou wovest the web whereof wiles were the woof, and
the warp was my heart!