The banks of the Bann, song

Eddie Butcher, singing in English
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When first to this country a stranger I came
I placed my affection on a maid that was young;
She being young and tender, her waist small and slender,
Kind Nature had formed her for my overthrow.

On the banks of the Bann there where I first beheld her
She appeared like great Juno, that fair Grecian queen;
Her eyes shone like diamonds or stars brightly shining,
Her cheeks bloomed like roses or blood drops on snow.

It was her cruel parents that first caused our variance
Because she was rich and above my degree,
But I’ll do my endeavour to gain my love’s favour
The more she is come of a rich family.

Had I all the money that lies in the Indies
Or all the bright diamonds that’s in the queen’s store
I would spend it in shining diamonds for to deck you, my darling,
For there’s no other charmer on earth I adore.

Now since I have gained her I’ll be contented for ever,
I’ll put rings on her fingers and gold in her ears,
And here on the lovely banks of the bonny Bann water
In all sorts of pleasure I’ll reside with my dear.


Mid-nineteenth-century broadsides put this Irish lyric song into common circulation under the title ‘The brown girl’. In it traditional motifs of female beauty are handled naively but expressively, and these must be the chief source of its widespread popularity. Though not revived in recent times, it was issued on a disc in the 1930s (L). For another Ulster broadside song entitled ‘The banks of the Bann’, of which we have a local fragmentary version, see the Index.