Old Man in the Hob


In this song, the old man sitting by the fireside calls his sons together to relate to them what it was like living and surviving in days gone by: true stories of tough times. Running somewhat parallel with the words of this song are words spoken to me by a wonderful lady in Killaloe who was born in the year 1866. I interviewed her in 1960 and asked what she attributed her long life to. She answered, 'Hard work and plain food, with half enough of it sometimes'. Sobering words, indeed.

Robbie McMahon, the master balladeer and composer, sings for us once again on this track. I first heard him singing this song around the same time as I did that interview with the lady from Killaloe. Robbie's compositions often tell of days gone by. He was a powerhouse of information and history, and his delivery of these songs had a way of transporting us back in time. He was a household name in County Clare, and in my home he was loved by all within.

The final verse in his song opens with a call for Father Dan. It was this same verse that appeared by kind permission on my mother's Memorial Card when she 'passed on to her eternal shore'. Thanks to my brother Michael for reminding me of Robbie's composition. The master kindly sang it for me again when I recorded him in his home in Spancilhill, County Clare, a few short years before he himself went to his place 'far beyond the sky'. The lines below are from that same last verse:

'Oh Father Dan, how are you, and come over here to me.
Come lay your holy hand on me for I am on my way,
To a land that's far beyond the sky where I'll have pains no more,
For God himself has called me to his own eternal shore.'

Robbie, we will miss you. Your likes will not be seen again.


Séamus Connolly
Boston College Libraries

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McMahon, Robbie (vocals) (composer), “Old Man in the Hob,” The Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music, accessed July 16, 2024, https://connollymusiccollection.bc.edu/document/710.