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My Father’s Servant Boy
(Laws M11; Roud 1910)
Martin Reidy
Tullaghaboy, Connolly
Recorded in singer’s home, July 1983

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Martin Reidy

Your lovers all both great and small, attend unto my pain.
There is none on earth to pity me, but those who feel my pain.
I live between Dungannon, and the town of sweet Fermoy,
And now I’m in America, with my father’s servant boy.

Where is the man who will, or can, a farmer’s son despise?
He’s better when he do begin, before the sun do rise.
My love and I are ? I never will deny
There’s none on earth I love so great, as my father’s servant boy.

My parents want to have me wed unto a gentleman.
And in the church we were to meet, and join in wedlock band.
But the night before I strolled from them, unto a village nigh,
Where there I met my own true love, my father’s servant boy.

I brought my love along with me, I could do nothing more.
I bid farewell to all my friends, and to the shamrock shore.
From Belfast town we both went down, to where the 'Asic'? there did lie,
And in that ship, I sailed away with my father’s servant boy.

When we landed on the other side, our money was all spent.
Sometimes we were supported, all by an Irish friend.
A gentleman from Ireland, he gave us both employ.
Five pounds a week I now receive, from my father’s servant boy.

I left my parents lonely in sorrow for to weep.
Both day and night condoling, without a wink of sleep.
Until I wrote a letter, to the town of sweet Fermoy,
Saying I was in America with my father’s servant boy.

They wrote me a letter to Philadelphia town.
Saying if I would come home to them, I would get five hundred pounds.
But I being joined in wedlock, which crowns my love with joy,
And while I live, I’ll ne’er deceive my father’s servant boy.


“This tale of parental objection to daughter’s choice of lover due to social differences, leading to elopement and finally reaching a happy conclusion through the lovers emigrating, was widely distributed on 19th century broadsides. It was retrieved several times from North of Ireland singers in the second half of the 20th century and was popular with Travellers – we first recorded it from Wexford Traveller Bill Cassidy in London. It was also taken down from a singer in Hampshire, England, in the early 1900s.”
Jim Carroll

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