David’s flowery vale, song

Eddie Butcher, singing in English
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It is down by David’s flowery vale where the water does run calm
A purling stream does gently glide, it divides my father’s land
It’s covered o’er with linen cloth that was woven near Tandragee,
It was purchased by Owen M’Kie and a boy called Robert Lee.

The other day as I roved out for to view my father’s land
The Alma coach it passed my by well loaded to the ground;
I put my prospect to my eye I viewed it all around,
In the front of it who did I spy but a lady of renown.

So then a thought came in my mind it was her I would approach,
I catched her by the lily-white hand, I led her round the coach,
I showed her all my father’s ships that were bound for Castrel fair,
– Had it not been you, fair lady, I’m sure I would been there.

Oh I says – My honoured lady, we’ll go down to yonder inn
And we will have a glass of wine our courtship to begin,
For  I have lost a diamond ring more precious far than gold
And you’re the one has found it, fair lady, I Am told.

– Kind sir, I’m not a lady, the more I wear fine clothes,
Nor for keeping young men’s company I’m sure I’m not exposed
I am but a hiréd servant girl that lives near to Tandragee
And for further information enquire for Robert Lee.


Magilligan had its bleach-green in Duncrun until the 1760s (OS 1) but it is to the Belfast district and a somewhat later epoch that this song belongs. Fuller versions prolong the courtship inconclusively and identify the narrator as ‘young McCance of the Falls (W. Belfast) who lived ‘At the foot of Divis mountain’: a youth of fortune frustrated in an affair with a girl below his rank. For the part played by the McCance family of Suffolk, near Dunmurry, in the linen trade, see Green p. 77. The first ‘Armagh coach’ (2.2 ‘Alma’) began to run in the summer of 1808: Belfast Newsletter, 24 June 1808. Its terminus was in Arthur St., about 600 yards from the quays: see Notes, 2.2 and 3.2