One winter's day, long, long ago,
When I was a little fellow,
A piper wandered to our door,
Grey-headed, blind and yellow;
And, how glad was my young heart
Though earth and sky looked dreary,
To see the stranger and his dog -
Poor Pinch and Caoch O'Leary.
And when he stowed away his bag,
Cross-barred with green and yellow,
I thought and said, "In Ireland's ground
There's not so fine a fellow."
And Fineen Burke, and Shaun Magee,
And Eily, Kate and Mary,
Rushed in with panting haste to see
And welcome Caoch O'Leary.
O God be with those happy times
O God be with my childhood.
When I bareheaded roamed all day
Bird nesting in the wildwood
I'll not forget those sunny hours
However years may vary.
I'll not forget my early friends
Nor honest Caoch O'Leary.
Poor Caoch and Pinch slept well that night,
And in the morning early
He called me up to hear him play
"The wind that shakes the barley:"
And then he stroked my flaxen hair
And cried, "God mark my deary"
And how I wept when he said "Farewell,
And think of Caoch O'Leary."
And seasons came and went, and still
Old Caoch was not forgotten,
Although we thought him dead and gone
And in the cold grave rotten:
And often when I walked and talked
With Eily, Kate or Mary,
We thought of childhood's rosy hours
And prayed for Caoch O'Leary.
Well twenty summers had gone past,
And June's red sun was sinking,
When I, a man, sat by my door,
Of twenty sad things thinking.
A little dog came up the way,
His gait was slow and weary,
And at his tail a lame man limped -
'Twas Pinch and Caoch O'Leary.
Old Caoch, but O how woebegone!
His form is bowed and bending,
His fleshless hands are stiff and wan,
Ay, time is even blending
The colours on his threadbare bag;
And Pinch is twice as hairy
And thinspare as when first I saw
Himself and Caoch O'Leary.
"God's blessing here!" the wanderer cried,
"Far, far be hell's black viper:
Does anybody hereabouts
Remember Caoch the Piper?"
With swelling heart I grasped his hand,
The old man murmured. "Dreary,
Are you the silky-headed child
That loved poor Caoch O'Leary?"
"Yes, yes," I said—the wanderer wept
As if his heart was breaking—
"And where, avic-machree," he sobbed,
"Is all the merry-making
I found here twenty years ago
"My tale," I sighed, "mighty weary:
Enough to say there's none but me
To welcome Caoch O'Leary."
"Vo, vo, vo!" the old man cried
And wrung his hands in sorrow:
"Pray let me in, astore machree,
And I'll go home tomorrow.
My peace is made, I'll go home tomorrow.
My peace is made, I'll calmly leave
This world so cold and dreary;
And you shall keep my pipes and dog, And pray for Caoch O'Leary."
With Pinch I watched his bed that night,
Next day his wish was granted,
He died and Father James was brought,
And the Requiem Mass was chanted.
The neighbours came, to dig his grave
Near Eily, Kate and Mary.
And there he sleeps his last final sleep—
God rest you Caoch O'Leary.