Another man’s wedding, song

Hugh Shields, singing in English
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Verse 1 only, as sung by Robert Butcher senior but not recorded. Hugh Shields sings it here to Robert's air.

I was kindlie invited to nobleman’s wedding
All by a fair maid that proved so unkind
And still as she thought on her old former lover
The thoughts of her darling still ran in her mind.


Dating probably from the eighteenth century, this English lyrical ballad has had more applause in Ireland than any similar song. From the 1850s it became the object of Anglo-Irish literary adaptation and Irish airs were often published for it. Present-day versions vary greatly, perhaps because the Irish popular press had little hand in its dissemination. The narrative is simple and clear: textual variation consists mainly of lyric embellishment of the theme, though in one recent version lyric embellishment looks like taking over (S).

The Magilligan versions, MNQR, agree quite closely in text. They reduce, changing its meaning, the proverbial image of bark and tree prominent in one Donegal version:

Now all you young men who intend to get married,
I pray take a warning by me;
Ah, never you be in too much a hurry
Or never you go between the bark and the tree,

On the other hand, Eddie and Robert present a well-developed story in which the slighted lover’s reproach is particularly impressive.

[Note by Lisa Shields: Hugh took down the words of the song from Robert Butcher but was unable to make a sound recording. When back in Downhill the same day he recorded the first verse from his memory of the air as Robert sang it. The music was transcribed from Hugh's singing of the verse]