Sick Note Lyrics:  Why Paddy's Not at Work Today

These Sick Note Lyrics tell the story behind one of the world's best known folk songs. The song is closely associated with Irish culture, and it is a comedy classic. 

Irish-Expressions - Irish Song Lyrics.  The Dubliners.  Photocredit rpgplayer101 via youtube.

Over the years, the song has been sung under many titles and even to multiple melodies, but the storyline remains the same.

Things to Know About the Song

Here are some fun facts about The Sick Note.  Hopefully they will entice you to sing along next time you hear it!

  • The Sick Note lyrics tell the story of an Irish man named Paddy who worked as a bricklayer. He is telling the story to his boss, explaining why he can't be at work. A comical mishap on the job left him injured in a series of unfortunate events.
  • Pat Cooksey is the original songwriter of The Sick Note. He wrote the song in 1969 and performed it himself at various comedy clubs and festivals around Ireland.
  • The original song is to be sung to the tune of the Irish melody, "In the Garden Where the Praties Grow." While most recordings of the song follow this tune, others have many minor changes while keeping the words the same.
  • The Sick Note goes by many other names. Some versions are known as The Bricklayer's Song, Dear Boss and The Excuse Note. 
  • Although Pat Cooksey is the original writer of the Sick Note lyrics, and the first singer, The Sick Note has been sung and recorded by countless artists around the world over the last four decades. 
  • Just some of the names of those who have covered the song include the likes of The Corries, The Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners. 
  • The version by The Dubliners is by far the most common and most famous version of The Sick Note.

Sick Note Lyrics

Irish expressions is about having an Irish experience, on demand, wherever you happen to be.  What better way, than to sing along? 

To help you do just that, here are The Sick Note lyrics!

Dear Sir I write this note to you to tell you of my plight
For at the time of writing I am not a pretty sight
My body is all black and blue, my face a deathly grey
And I write this note to say why Paddy's not at work today.

Whilst working on the fourteenth floor,some bricks I had to clear
To throw them down from such a height was not a good idea
The foreman wasn't very pleased, the bloody awkward sod
He said I had to cart them down the ladders in my hod.

Now clearing all these bricks by hand, it was so very slow
So I hoisted up a barrel and secured the rope below
But in my haste to do the job, I was too blind to see
That a barrel full of building bricks was heavier than me.

And so when I untied the rope, the barrel fell like lead
And clinging tightly to the rope I started up instead
I shot up like a rocket till to my dismay I found
That half way up I met the bloody barrel coming down.

Well the barrel broke my shoulder, as to the ground it sped
And when I reached the top I banged the pulley with my head
I clung on tightly, numb with shock, from this almighty blow
And the barrel spilled out half the bricks, fourteen floors below.

Now when these bricks had fallen from the barrel to the floor
I then outweighed the barrel and so started down once more
Still clinging tightly to the rope, my body racked with pain
When half way down, I met the bloody barrel once again.

The force of this collision, half way up the office block
Caused multiple abrasions and a nasty state of shock
Still clinging tightly to the rope I fell towards the ground
And I landed on the broken bricks the barrel scattered round.

I lay there groaning on the ground I thought I'd passed the worst
But the barrel hit the pulley wheel, and then the bottom burst
A shower of bricks rained down on me, I hadn't got a hope
As I lay there bleeding on the ground, I let go the bloody rope.

The barrel then being heavier then started down once more
And landed right across me as I lay upon the floor
It broke three ribs, and my left arm, and I can only say
That I hope you'll understand why Paddy's not at work today.

Songwriter, Copyright:  Pat Cooksey

Our Favorite Performance

Hands down the most well-known version of the song comes from The Dubliners!

Another Version - Which Do You Like Better?

And here is a fun stage performance by the Clancy Brothers...

Want More Irish Song Lyrics?

It is probably obvious - at Irish Expressions, we love Irish songs!  The music of the Emerald Isle brings people together, telling stories that touch every human emotion.

Learning the lyrics and singing these songs gives us a deeper sense of connection with Ireland, wherever in the world we happen to be!

We have captured 10 of our favorite Irish songs in an e-book we call "An Illustrated Irish Songbook."

This fun, free guide is available to you to download.  Answer two quick questions below to get instant access!

What's Next?

Folk songs like this one are an essential part of Irish culture and heritage. Even if you're not really into folk music, these Irish melodies tell fascinating stories that take you back to special times in Ireland's long and proud history. 

Sing them, listen to them, dance to them, to celebrate Irish culture and share your personal Irish side!

For more information of this type, you may want to pay a visit to our main section on Irish Song Lyrics.

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Until then, best wishes -

Bruce Grady



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