My Cavan Girl is a popular Irish ballad that has been performed by many of the best folk singers in the country. While many famous Irish songs are based on fictional romances, the lyrics to this song were inspired by a true love story.
Originally from Killeshandra (Co. Cavan), Michael Woods was only 17-years-old and had just arrived in New York City that day when he met Rita Munday. He felt an instant connection to Rita, who coincidentally was from just down the road in Belturbet, Co. Cavan. The couple had to go across the ocean to find each other, but they went on to marry and move back to Ireland where they had five children.
The couple became friends with Thom Moore, a songwriter originally from California who was living in Sligo. One night in 1979, Moore sat at their kitchen table and wrote the lyrics to My Cavan Girl in order to enter it into the Cavan Song Contest. Not only did he win the musical competition, but the song based on this real-life couple also went on to become a beloved Irish classic.
In case you want to sing along, here is how the tune goes:
My Cavan Girl Lyrics
As I walk the road from Killeshandra weary I sit down
For it's twelve long miles around the lake to get to Cavan Town
Though Oughter and the road I go once seemed beyond compare
Now I curse the time it takes to reach my Cavan girl so fair
The autumn shades are on the leaves, the trees will soon be bare
Each red-coat leaf around me seems the colours of her hair
My gaze retreats to find my feet and once again I sigh
For the broken pools of sky remind me of the colour of her eyes
At the Cavan cross each Sunday morning, there she can be found
And she seems to have the eye of every boy in Cavan Town
If my luck will hold I'll have the golden summer of her smile
And to break the hearts of Cavan men she'll take to me a while
So next Sunday evening finds me homeward - Killeshandra bound -
To work the week till I return and court in Cavan Town
When asked if she would be my bride, at least she'd not say no
So next Sunday morning I'll rouse myself and back to her I'll go