A lady walked in her father’s garden, song

Bill Quigley, singing in English
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As a lady walked in her father’s garden
A gentleman came riding by;
He stepped up to her, he then said to her,
– My pretty fair lady, would you fancy I?

To fancy you, sir, a man of honour,
And a man of honour you seem to be!
And what am I but a servant girl, sir,
And a servant girl I intend to be.

Well, it’s seven years since I had a sweetheart,
It’s seven more since I did him see
And seven more I will wait upon him,
If he’s alive he’ll return to me.

– Well, it’s seven years since you had a sweetheart
It’s seven more since you did him see;
Perhaps he’s wed to some other fair one,
Perhaps he’s dead and he’ll ne’er return.

–Well, if he’s married I wish him better
And if he’s dead I wish him rest,
For since he’s gone I will wed no other
For he’s the young man that I love best.

– I’ll give to you some fine fine castles
Adornéd round with lilies white;
I’ll give to you my gold and silver
If you prove true, love, this very night.

– It’s what cares I for your fine fine castles
Adornéd round with lilies white
Or what cares I for your gold and silver
If I had my true love this very night.

He put his hand into his pocket
His lily-white fingers being thin and small,
Pulled out a gold ring all bent and broken,
And when she saw it she down did fall.

He picked her up into his arms,
He gave her kisses, kisses three,
Saying – I’m your true love, your long-lost sailor
Who has returned for to marry thee.

– Well if you are my long-lost sailor
Your loving features they are all gone,
But seven years it makes an alteration
Between a sailor and a gentleman.


This is among the commonest of English traditional songs sung in Ireland. An Antrim version begins with the lovers’ parting (H), but the usual starting-point is the return of the unrecognized young man. Eddie Butcher’s version is shorter than Bill’s, which has textual parallels for all its verses in Ireland, Britain and America. Both text and melody belong to a tradition the English origin of which is clearly marked.