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The Turfman from Ardee

[ Roud 5187 ; Ballad Index RcTurArd ; trad.]

Peter Bellamy learned The Turfman from Ardee from the singing of Margaret Barry. He recorded it in 1979 for his Topic LP Both Sides Then, accompanying himself on guitar.

Margaret Barry's own version, in a recording by Ewan MacColl in Croydon on March 10, 1955, can be found on her Topic album Her Mantle So Green (1965, CD reissue 1994).

Lyrics

Colm O'Lochlainn, More Irish Street Ballads, #23, p. 46, Dublin, 1965

For sake of health I took a walk last week at early dawn.
I met a jolly turfman as I slowly jogged along.
The kindest salutations passed ‘twixt him and me.
And it’s soon I got acquainted with the Turfman from Ardee.

We chatted very freely as we jogged along the road.
He says, “My ass is tired, and I want to sell my load,
For I've got no refreshment since I left my home you see
I am wearied out with travelling,” says the Turfman from Ardee.

“Your cart is racked and worn friend, your ass is very old,
It must be twenty summers since that animal was foaled.”
“He was yoked in a trap when I was born, September, '83,
And he cantered for the midwife, says the Turfman from Ardee.

“I own my cart, it must be made of the very best of wood,
I do believe it was in use the time of Noah's flood.
The axle never wanted grease but one year out of three-
It's a real old Carrick axle,” says the Turfman from Ardee.

“I often do abuse the beast with this rough hazel rod,
.Although I own I never yet did drive poor Jack unshod.
The harness now that's on his back was made by John Magee,
Who's dead this two and forty years,” says the Turfman from Ardee.

We talked about our country's woes and how we were oppressed,
The men we sent to Parliament to get out wrongs redressed,
“Sure, all these politicians are nothing else I see
But led by bloomin' humbug ” says the Turfman from Ardee.

Just then I heard a female voice that I knew very well,
Politely asking this old man his load of turf to sell.
I shook that horny hand of his and bowed respectfully,
In hopes to meet some future day the Turfman from Ardee.

Peter Bellamy sings The Turfman from Ardee

For the sake of health I took a walk one morning in the dawn,
I met a jolly turfman along the road as I went on,
A friendly conversation came between this man and me
And that how I came acquainted with the turfman from Ardee.

We chatted very freely as we jogged along the road,
Says he, “My ass is tired and I'd like to sell my load.
For I had no refreshments since I left my home you see,
And I'm tired out of travelling,” says the turfman from Ardee.

Says I, “My friend, your cart is worn, your ass is very old,
It must be twenty summers since the day that he was foaled.”
“I remember well when he was born, September '43
And he cantered from the midwife,” says the turfman from Ardee

“And many's the time I abused the beast with this rough hazel rod,
Although I own I never did see poor Jack go unshod.
The harness that is on his back, it was made by Sam McGee,
And he's dead this two and twenty years,” says the turfman from Ardee.

“I know my friend, my cart is worn, but it's tough old Irish wood,
It must have been in constant use since the time of Noah's flood.
The axle never wanted grease but one year out of three,
It's a real old Carrick axle,” says the turfman of Ardee.

Just then I heard a female voice that I knew very well,
Politely asking this poor man his load of turf to sell.
I shook the steady old hand of his and he bowed respectfully,
And I hope I'll meet some future day wth the turfman from Ardee.

Acknowledgements

Wolfgang Hell posted the lyrics from Colm O'Lochlainn's More Irish Street Ballads in the Mudcat Café.