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McCabe Family

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(introduction to be written)


An ode to Johnnie McCabe

Published with the permission of the authors, Patsy McDermott and Susan, of Killinkere, County Cavan, 2009.

Johnnie McCabe, centre, and his sister, Rose, at right, enjoying an evening with friends at The Royal Breffni in May 2009


Verse 1

The second Wednesday night was draughty, as far as I remember

The month I’m not too sure of – I think it was November

Herself and I sat by the fire, she turned to me to say

“I think we’ll go to the Royal Breffni, it’s not that far away”.

 “We won’t stay very late” she said, so I agreed and took her

 And that is how we came to be at the Rambling House in Tierworker.

Verse 2

The middle bar was fairly full but we were welcomed in

The place was just buzzing, the session in full swing

There was music, song and dancing, and an odd auld story too

And before the night was over I even told a few.

The next month we were back again, it was livelier I think

And just as we were leaving a man offered me a drink.

Verse 3

He said “My name is Johnnie” as he held the hand of friendship out

I said – “Seeing as she’s driving, I’ll have a pint of stout”

Well it didn’t stop at one or two – you know the way it goes

The crowd kept getting scarcer, even Teddy left with Rose.

Then he started reminiscing as we are all inclined to do

He remembered Cavan winning back in 1952

Verse 3

He talked about his school days in the school house on the hill

And how the friends he made there are his best friends still

He told about work back then how sometimes it was tough

He spoke about the Lough-an-Lae and the Pattern Fair of Muff

Verse 4

Then we heard of Evelyn and how they got married young

And he thanked the Lord who blessed them with four daughters and a son

He said “We’re living up in Beaupark, it’s where we’ve made our home,

The family are all grown up, some have children of their own

Verse 5

I have a lovely filly I call her ‘Charlie’s Girl’

She’s grazing round the home place, where Joe minds her very well

I go to lots of sing-songs from Inniskeen up to Armagh,

And we like to go out dancing to Swan’s of Curragha

Although I’ve travelled Ireland – North, South, East and West

My birthplace Tierworker is the place I love the best”.

Verse 6

Well the Rambling House got too big for the middle bar

We changed it to a Friday night as they came from near and far

You entertained us monthly with your songs both old and new,

About the West Clare Railway and the publican Joe McHugh

You admired Percy French and sang ‘Phil the Fluter’s Ball’

Verse 7

You mentioned Killinkere in ‘The Hackler from Grousehall’

You sang Johnny Duhan’s ‘Voyage’, Christy’s one about Luke Kelly,

‘Barley Hill’ and ‘John Joe’ – these are only some of many

As you waltzed around the dance floor you were light on foot

And when we tried to have a sing-along you were the first man up.

Verse 8

Those carefree times went swiftly by till the month of May ‘09

When you told us you had cancer but that you were doing fine

You said “I will enjoy what’s left” and, of course, you sang a song

And fair play to those who loved you, with all your wishes went along

The second Wednesday night of September our friend Johnnie passed on

To a bigger better Rambling House where he’ll lead the auld sing-song.

Johnnie, we’re glad we knew you, Patsy and Susan


The Eyes That Shone - from Ireland to Canada in the 1950s

But a word of warning! The Eyes That Shone is not a saga filled with horrible tragedy and dysfunctional relationships, but rather a celebration of family lives in Ireland and Canada, in other words, a happy story featuring:

  • Memories of life on small farms in Ireland before 1950 and before tractors and electrification, when growing food depended largely on human sweat and muscle
  • Recollections about people and events in the Department of Public Works of Canada where the author worked during the period 1957 to 1991
  • Intimate perspectives on living and dying, politics and religion, home and family