It’s just about ten years ago, song

John Butcher senior, singing in English
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Oh, it’s just about ten years ago as near as I could tell
I bundled up my clothes, unto my friends I bid farewell;
– I’m going across the ocean for to see my brother Jack
And if there’s any chance of work I won’t be coming back.

I just possessed of ninepence and a one-pound note
When I paid my fare and wrote to Jack for to meet me at the boat;
When I went there sure I saw Jack and half a dozen more
All waving hats and handkerchiefs to welcome me on shore.

They soon drew out the gangway plank, as soon as I reached on land,
When Jack and all the other boys they took me by the hand
And for to make me happy the remainder of that day
We smuggled Irish whisky in that pub along the way.

They soon pulled the stiffening out of my dirty one-pound note,
When Jack and all the other boys they went and pawned their coat;
We smuggled that and other things till eight o’clock at night
Till every mother’s son of us was roaring blazing tight.

The next morning I stuck in the pin, a job I went to seek,
I’m working in the gas-yard at eighteen bob a week;
First I was a gaffer but now I’m overseer,
I’ll be owner of the gas-yard in about another year.

Now Jack and all the other boys are working under me,
Sure it does not become of them for me to go on the spree;
But I’ll go down into yon inns where there I’ll squench my thirst,
I’ll not forget the fun we had the night I landed first,

Singing – God bless you, Barney, with an outstretched hand,
Years ago o’ pleasure as we might understand,
Years ago o’ pleasure as we might on recall
For Irishmen throughout this world are brothers after all.


John recalled learning this song from Bob Tracy, a ‘timber man’ who brought it, with ‘The Faughan side’ (no 28) to Magilligan – from Derry city, Eddie thought, 1919. It has no local features, and can hardly date from earlier than about 1900: the decadence of the ballad sheet, a fact which my explain why it has remained undocumented. John’s and Eddie’s renditions scarcely diverge in text or melody.