Old Man of Kilcockan


By prayer and entreaty and threat they did worry me
To be wed to a gaffer, my youth denied
On leaden feet to the priest, they did hurry me
With a heart stone dead, while the knot was tied
I like not his gait nor the rheumy red eyes of him
His furry grey brows, the groans and the sighs of him
I long for a young man, to lie and to rise with him
Who would kiss and caress me at morning-tide

All maids yet unwed, whether wealthy or dowerless
Be warned by my fortune against old drones
For I lie by a dotard, both shrivelled and powerless
As good to possess a heap of bones
Wide-eyed each night, with a heart that’s like lead in me
I think of the withered old creature’s that wed to me
Compared to the stalwart that might lie a-bed with me
Clasping me to him with love’s sweet tones

Six-guineas I’d give, and I’d pay it right readily
If someone would put my old man away
Come on him by stealth and take aim at him steadily
Make sure of the target and earn his pay
Or if in the sea, he could set about drowning him
Lay him flat in the ditch and knock the wall down on him
Or perhaps even better still, just to throttle the jowl of him
And leave him for dead just before the day

Last night as I lay between waking and sleeping
I heard that my wretched old man was dead
I leapt from the pillow, my gratitude heaping
On the man in the ditch who had done the deed
They made up their story while there was still breath in him
‘twas the bay mare that kicked him, and that was the death of him
Go, take to the young man this news that is best for him
In the grave at Kilcockan, my wretch is laid