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Old Ned

(Words and Music: Brendan Nolan; Produced and arranged by David Gossage & Brendan Nolan)


Key of E flat; Guitar: Capo 3rd fret C

The horse-drawn milk-cart disappeared from the streets of Dublin finally in the early seventies. I remember one of the milkmen being interviewed on TV when they finally changed over to motorized vehicles. The emotion in his face was very apparent when he said, "You can’t talk to a van". I suppose you can’t exactly talk to a horse either, but you know what he meant. The early morning sound of the hoof on the road outside and the jingling of the glass milk-bottles has now become a fond memory of a day gone by.

Morning came before the light
The hot tea inside was warming
Then off into the dark
Before the hour was dawning
To begin my working day
With the men who rarely know
The sleep that others feel
As they face the winter cold

It all began there in the yard
Old Ned would see me coming
Mid the fog from the horse’s breadths
Like clouds in the early morning
I’d feed him his daily hay
And stroke that fiery mane
And lead him to the cart
And our day would start again

Ah my old Ned
The day is nearly done
My old Ned
Your race will soon be run
And when deliveries are through
Where will they deliver you

Ned was glad to greet the day
For me he had no pity
He was pulling as I sat down
And soon jogging through the city
Then we’d stop a while
I’d jump to the ground
And he’d nod that great head
As school children gathered round

And when the Spring was born again
Sometimes we’d take our own way
Past some fields and open ground
As the sun shone in the new day
And you know that if I could
I would take you home
But the yard of a council house
Is no place for a horse to roam


But soon the time would come
When old Ned’s day was over
A van could do the job
But you can’t talk to a motor
But how I miss it all
The sounds are like a song
The milk-cart and the horse
Chiming in the coming dawn