The mountain streams where the moor-cock crows, song

Eddie Butcher, singing in English
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With my dog and gun through yon blooming heather
On search of pastime I took my way,
There sure I beheld that sweet lovelie charmer,
Her looks invited me a while to stay.
Says I, – my charmer, I find I love you,
Tell me your name and your dwelling also.
– If you excuse my name, sir, you will find my dwelling,
It’s at the mountain streams where the moorcock crows.

– It’s not by fowling I mean to flatter
Nor is it my intention for to deceive,
For here’s my hand and I’ll pledge my honour
That I’ll be true until I meet my grave.
Hand in hand we will walk together
And I’ll escort you to the vale below,
Where the linnet sings you’ll rest far more pleasant
Nor your mountain streams where the moorcock crows.

– If I consent for to wed a rover
It’s great reflections might undergo,
I am happy here though I might ha’ been married
At the mountain streams where the moorcock crows.
But I’ll go home, I’ll frequent my parents
Lest my proceedings might yield a foe;
I am young and tender and I’ll rest a season
At the mountain streams where the moorcock crows.

– So fare you well then, my bonny lassie,
I must away unto the vale below
But I’ll come back again some other evening
To listen a while unto your lovesome tales.
Hand in hand then we will walk together
And we’ll get married, come well, come woe;
In the arms of love I will close enfold you
Far frae your mountain streams where the moorcock crows.


This dialogued pastourelle is probably not more than about a century old. Its stanza form is common in Gaelic but the text has nothing of the generally persistent internal rhyme of Irish. Conflicting assertions trace its composition, on the one hand, to the Macosquin district of Co. Derry – written in honour of ‘a young lady of Letterloan’, Henry, notes to A – and on the other, to Lowland Scotland where I am told the song has been found though I have not seen versions, Kennedy, notes to D. It is well known in the oral tradition of the northern half of Ireland and almost unknown elsewhere. Until we know more about its distribution, I am inclined to think that it arose in Ulster in a district of Scots influence: Letterloan would do.