Around the Boree Log and Other Verses [by John O’Brien, 1921]

[Editor: This book of poetry was written by “John O’Brien”, whose real name was Patrick Joseph Hartigan. As there are many older words and phrases in his poems, including quite a few of Irish origin, which may be unfamiliar to many readers, a glossary has been provided.]

Around The Boree Log and Other Verses

By John O’Brien

Front cover, as used with editions in the 1960s and 1970s

Front cover, as used with editions in the 1960s and 1970s


Around the Boree Log
Oh, stick me in the old caboose this night of wind and rain

Calling To Me
Through the hush of my heart in the spell of its dreaming

The Little Irish Mother
Have you seen the tidy cottage in the straggling, dusty street,

One By One
With trust in God and her good man

Ten Little Steps and Stairs
There were ten little Steps and Stairs,

The Trimmin’s on the Rosary
Ah, the memories that find me now my hair is turning gray,

Front cover of the first edition (1921)

Front cover of the first edition (1921)

The Birds Will Sing Again
She saw The Helper standing near

The Old Bush School
’Tis a queer, old battered landmark that belongs to other years;

Six Brown Boxer Hats
The hawker with his tilted cart pulled up beside the fence,

The Libel
“The flowers, have no scent, and the birds have no song,”

When the Circus Came to Town
When the circus came to town

His Father
We meet him first in frills immersed,

The Kookaburras
Fall the shadows on the gullies, fades the purple from the mountain;

Peter Nelson’s Fiddle
Do you ever dream you hear it, you who went the lonely track?

The Church upon the Hill
A simple thing of knotted pine

Old Father Pat! They’ll tell you still with mingled love and pride

The Helping Hand
When that hour comes when I shall sit alone,

Vale, Father Pat
Yes, that’s the hardest hand at all upon my frosted head —

The presbytery has gone to pot since this house-keeper came;

The Old Mass Shandrydan
I can see it in my dreaming o’er a gap of thirty years,

Pitchin’ at the Church
On the Sunday morning mustered,

Said Hanrahan
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan

The Tidy Little Body
Faith, and little Miss McCroddie was the tidy little body

The Pillar of the Church
Faith, ’tis good to see him comin’ when the bell for Mass is flingin’

Teddo Wells, Deceased
Times I think I’m not the man —

Norah O’Neill
That Norah O’Neill is a sthreel,

The Presbyt’ry Dog
Now of all the old sinners in mischief immersed,

The bishop sat in lordly state and purple cap sublime,

The Altar-Boy
Now McEvoy was altar-boy

At Casey’s After Mass
There’s a weather-beaten sign-post where the track turns towards the west,

St. Patrick’s Day
’Tis the greatest splash of sunshine right through all my retrospection

The Carey’s
Their new house stood just off the road,

When Old Man Carey Died
A night of wind and driving rain

The Parting Rosary
They have brought the news, my darlin’, that I’ve waited for so long

He comes when the gullies are wrapped in the gloaming

Laughing Mary
With cheeks that paled the rosy morn

“Wisha, where is he goin’ to now

A Stranger In The Church
’Twas Callagan who jerked the thumb —

Tell Me, What’s a Girl to do?
Tell me, what’s a girl to do

The Wiree’s Song
The Wiree sang that Christmas Day,

Wisha, What is the Matter with Jim?
“Wisha, what is the matter with Jim, I dunno?

Said the White-Haired Priest
Said the white-haired priest, “So the boy has come

Honeymooning from the Country
To the rooms where I am dining in the glaring city’s day

Making Home
No, you don’t quite get the meaning when the fun is at its height

Could I Hear the Kookaburras Once Again
May a fading fancy hover round a gladness that is over?

Come, Sing Australian Songs to Me!
Come, Little One, and sing to me

Published in:
John O’Brien. Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1921


  1. Paul Wincen says:

    I read the Boree Log recently and couldn’t help think that it was about a person who had known/ cherished marriage and a family. yet the writer was an unmarried Catholic Priest. Could it be that ‘John’ carried a fond memory a lady he had hoped to marry, or is it a story about one or more of the many folk he knew?

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