"Paddy Works on the Railway" is one of my favourites and I sing it at most "performances". The version I sing can be found in good old Soodlum's 100 Irish Ballads Volume 2
. Soodlum's version is most very likely based on that of Master Mariner W.B. Whall in his Sea Songs Ships and Shanties
(1912). The tune and verses are identical, but Soodlum's is in a different key (G instead of F) and has a further verse for 1848. On occasion, I add on two further verses of my own namely for 1849 and eighteen hundred and forty ten!
As the title so succinctly expresses, the song is about Irishman, Paddy, who worked on the railway in America between 1841 and 1847 (W.B. Whall) or 1848 (Soodlum) or indeed 1850 (yours truly).