Albert Roche (1929–2006)

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Albert Roche sings while Gerald Campbell looks on, ca. 1975 (photo courtesy of Aidan O’Hara; used with permission).

Albert Roche was born in Branch on 21 May 1929. His ancestors were from Co Wexford in Ireland, and were well known locally as boat builders. Albert continued on in the family trade, crafting a couple of skiffs following his father’s death.

Albert was a fisherman all his life; he also worked as a labourer in Labrador and in the lumberwoods of western Newfoundland. While living away, he often roomed with another singer from Branch, Gerald Campbell—a situation that enabled them to share songs like “The sweet forget-me-not” and to compose “The track to Knob Lake.”

Albert had a vast repertoire and could sing for hours on end around the house. He enjoyed singing at house parties in Branch, such as those held by Denis Nash or Albert’s brother Dermot Roche. Albert also participated in community concerts that were held in St Bride’s and in Branch. “Donald Monroe” was among his favourite songs.

From 1966, Albert lived with his wife Ella McGrath, and their 14 children in St Bride’s.

Albert passed away on 27 August 2006.


Donald Monroe / Albert Roche

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Donald Monroe / Albert Roche

Donald Monroe, song (Come all ye good men that's inclined for to roam, to seek for employment …) A variant of the 18th-century Scottish broadside, “Donald Munro,” this murder ballad tells the tale of a man who immigrates to America, leaving his sons behind as he cannot afford their fares. They follow in search of their father seven years later. They are attacked by highwaymen and killed. As they lay dying, their murderer realises that he has killed his two sons.  This song was widely sung in Newfoundland and several versions collected there, with the result that it exists with a number of different melodies and configurations of lyrics. Kenneth Peacock published three different versions in his Songs of the Newfoundland Outports 3 (1965:812–16). MacEdward Leach also recorded several versions.

Biographical Information

Courtesy of Harold Roche