Old Maid In The Garret

Now I’ve often heard it said from me father and me mother
That the going tae a wedding is the making of another
Well, if this be true, I will go without a biddin
O kind providence, won’t you send me tae a wedding

And its O dear me, how would it be,
if I die an old maid in a garret

Well, there’s my sister Jean, she’s not handsome or good looking
Scarcely sixteen and a fella she was courting
Now at twenty-four with a son and a daughter
Here am I at forty-five and I’ve never had an offer

I can cook and I can sew and I can keep the house right tidy
Rise up in the morning and get the breakfast ready
There’s nothing in this whole world would make me half so cheery
As a wee fat man to call me his own deary

So come landsman or come pinsman, come tinker or come tailor
Come fiddler or come dancer, come ploughboy or come sailor
Come rich man, come poor man, come fool or come witty
Come any man at all that will marry me for pity

Well now I’m away home for nobody’s heeding
Nobody’s heeding and nobody’s pleading
I’ll go away to my own bitty garret
If I can’t get a man, then I’ll have to get a parrot


Old Maid in the Garret is a very old song that may date back more than 300 years. It was popular as a children’s street song and may also have been performed in music halls throughout Ireland and the UK.

The origin of the song is uncertain although it may be a variant to a ballad called “The Wooing Maid”, which was written by the great 17th century English songwriter Martin Parker.

The Wooing Maid, which was sung to the tune If ‘be the dad on’t was printed on a broadside which was entered in the Stationers’ Register June 18, 1636 by Thomas Lambert. Later versions are definitely similar to an early 19th century ballad, The Old Maid’s Last Prayer (circa 1825). The Poor Auld Maid was in Greig’s Folk Songs of the North-East (1914).

Andy’s version is likely sourced from the Sam Henry Collection, though this needs citation.

Sam Henry lists other titles as: Come All You True Lovers, Don’t Let me Die an Old Maid, I Long to be a Wedding, Sister Sally (the sister is sometimes named Sally) and The Spinster’s Lament. Other variants and alternate titles (from Folksongs of Britain and Ireland) include: Auld Maid in a Garret, The Auld Maid’s Lament.

What’s A Garrett?
A garret is a habitable attic [ loft ] or small and often dismal or cramped living space at the top of a house. This was the least prestigious position in a building, and often had sloping ceilings.


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