THE TINKERMANS’ DAUGHTER
All the wee birds were lining the bleak autumn branches
Preparing to fly to a far distant shore
When the tinkers made camp at the bend in the river
Coming back from the horsefair in Ballinasloe.
The harvest being over the farmer came walking
Along the Feale River that bordered his land
And twas there he first saw her twixt firelight and water
The Tinkerman's daughter, The Red Headed Ann.
Next morning he rose from a night without resting
Went straight to her father and made his case known.
In a pub in Listowel they worked out the bargain
For the Tinker a pony: for the daughter a home.
Where the trees peg their shadows along the Feale River
The Tinker and farmer inspected the land
And a white gelding pony was the price they agreed on
For the Tinkerman’s daughter, The Red Headed Ann.
The wedding soon over the tinkers departed
They were eager to travel on south down the road
But the crunch of the iron-shod wheels on the gravel
Was as bitter to her as the way she’d been sold.
Yet she tried hard to please him – she did all his bidding
She slept in his bed and she worked on his land
But the walls of that cabin pressed tighter and tighter
On the Tinkerman’s daughter, The Red Headed Ann.
As white as the hands of the priest or the hangman
The snow spread its blanket the next Christmas round
When the Tinkerman’s daughter slipped out from the bedside
Turned her back on the land and her face to the town.
It was said someone saw her ere dusk that same evening
She was making her way out oer Lyracrumpayne
But that was the last time the settled folk saw her
The Tinkerman’s daughter, The Red Headed Ann.
Where the North Kerry hills cup the Feale near Listowel
On a farm on its banks lives a bitter old man
And he swears by the shotgun he keeps at his bedside
That he’ll kill any tinker who camps on his land.
But whenever he hears iron-shod wheels crunch on gravel
Or a horse in the shafts of a bright caravan
Then his days work’s tormented: his night’s sleep demented
By the Tinkerman’s daughter, The Red Headed Ann.