The Ballad of Drover Dalaigh

(The characters mentioned in this poem have long since departed including old Joe Dalaigh, who operated in the area some 40 years ago.)

Yes! I’m hitting the road from Dungarven lair,
With heifers for John Moloney,
And bullocks for Matt who will graze them up fat,
For he bought them as this as lithe as a cat,
And he’ll sell when it’s right – he’s an expert at that,
And again he’ll hire Drover Dalaigh.

For mine is the trudge of the long, long road,
And the herd a-plunging forward,
With the mooing and splatter and the stampede to scatter,
To arrive with the number is all that will matter,
In the life of a Drover like Dalaigh.

But I’ll pass Mary Hayden’s and I’ll have a jar,
For the road is wide in that quarter,
Then I’ll head the herd for Cappoquin, Bill O’Donnell’s,
A yard but he won’t let them in,
But he’ll hand me a pint and a wee drop of gin,
For he knows the old Drover Dalaigh.

Then I’ll strike for Lismore and for Curraheen,
To where Phil Dickery is farming,
When droving was slack I worked there out the back,
Trimmed ditches, picked spuds, lifted many a sack,
So I’ll rest there a while, have a sup and a snack,
And he’ll chat to the old Drover Dalaigh.

But I’m tired of the wind and the rain in my face,
And a road that’s forever a-winding,
And I dream of a cot with a half-acre plot,
With a fire backed with turf and a simmering pot,
Where the bidding and haggling is lost and forgot,
In the home of a Drover called Dalaigh.

Alas, getting old. I am nearing the end,
And my step is beginning to falter,
And the Hirer above may soon call a halt,
He knows of this earth that I’m not the salt,
I hope he’ll take pity forgive every fault,
Of a weary old Drover called Dalaigh.

But I’m hitting the road from Dungarven fair,
(There’s another long drive before me.
I’ve had a pint in Dan Cooney pub,
And I’ve been down the town for a wee bit of grub
On the strength of my journey I’ve just had a sub.)

By William O’Donnell

©2013 The estate of William O’Donnell (Chiswick)

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