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The Old Thatched Cabin
(Roud 8121)
Ollie Conway
Recorded in Conway’s Bar, Mullagh, September 1973

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Ollie Conway and JJ Lenihan

Oh ‘tis well I remember that little thatched cabin,
Where I first saw the light of life’s early morn.
It stands a hillside in view of the village,
And in that same cabin my father was born.

It was there that I started in life’s cruel journey.
I learned the beauties of life and the errors of wrong.
It was there that I first drove the cows to the meadow,
A bare-footed boy as I heard the birdsong.

I ploughed with my father, saved hay in the meadows.
I cut turf in the bog in a fine summer’s day.
And the lark in the heavens its sweets notes would charm you,
And would help to drive care and worries away.

‘Tis God rest my father and God rest my mother,
They now take their last sleep behind the church wall.
In my dreams I can see them smiling and happy,
In that little thatched cabin the best home of all.

Now that I’ve grown old and misfortune laid on me,
I look back on my youth with a bemoaning pain.
How I wish, how I wish, how I wish with my fond heart,
If I could live over my childhood again.

Go as it may as through life I have wandered,
You never could find it in palace or hall.
A home so sweet as the home of my childhood,
It’s that little thatched cabin - the best home of all.


“Apart from it being referenced as ‘traditional’ and it being extremely popular, there is hardly any information on this song. Sam Henry, in his ‘Songs of the People’, notes that it appears to be of American origin, though his reasons for that claim, based on a reference to ‘a young vine on a moss-covered wall’ in the version he published, seem a little tenuous. He described it as ‘a favourite song in the Draperstown area’. This was a favourite of Ollie’s, which he would often punctuate with - ‘we were all reared under thatch’.”
Jim Carroll

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