Laurel Hill, song

Eddie Butcher, singing in English
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Lyrics

When the war had oppressed every nation with horror
Bold Wellington ventured his life on the main,
For to keep down French tyrants and to make them surrender
In defence of old Ireland I ventured the same.
It was on that sweet spot where I first parted Nancy
She says – Dearest Jimmy, you will be true to me still,
Until you gain that victory, returns from the slaughter,
I will mourn round those valley round sweet Laurel Hill.

2
[When we landed in France we were almost exhausted
We were tossed by the waves and the billows so high.
And then we pursued over lofty high mountains,
In the midst of all danger we fought with good will
And our foes they lay bleeding in their gore all around us,
We smiled at the dangers far from Laurel Hill.]
 

3
When we left the white cliffs where our Britain stood smiling
The trumpet of war was to rest for a while;
We manly came out and came off for old Ireland,
That long looked for valley, that beautiful isle.
And when we arrived by the bonny Bann water
There I spied my love by the side of a mill
In a loop near Coleraine where with her I first parted
For to gain British valour far from Laurel Hill.

4
I steppéd up to her, she was all clad in mourning,
And I asked her the reason she ranged the Bann shore;
– My love he’s a soldier and I doubt his returning,
My Jamie he’s gone will I ne’er see him more?
He has left me to stray by those dark shady bowers
Where the wild duck and otter does stray with good will
And the pretty little fishes swims in the Bann water,
They do add to the pleasure around Laurel Hill.

5
So now to conclude and to finish those verses
I mean to give over and leave down my pen
For Jimmy’s returnéd back home to his Nancy
And now all their troubles they are at an end.
He’s sailed the Atlantic for gold and promotion
And now he’s returned home their joys to fulfil;
This couple’s got married and lives happy together
In a neat little cottage on sweet Laurel Hill.

Notes

The theme is once again that of the returning unrecognized lover, though Eddie leaves aside parts of the story: see Notes. The poet has given it a local rural setting enriched with his own fresh flowers of descriptive expression. These perhaps proved an obstacle to wide acceptance of the song; though it dates from soon after Waterloo, the only other version I know is Henry’s version from the Coleraine district. Laurel Hill, now occupied by a suburb of Coleraine, was an estate overlooking the river Bann on the Derry side. The Salmon Leap – our text has ‘loop’, 3.7 – is now known as the ‘Cuts’ and is about a mile upstream: UFL XI (1965) 18–20.