The parish of Dunboe, song

John Butcher senior and Eddie Butcher, singing in English
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I am a bold undaunted youth, I mean to let you know,
I was brought up in Bannbrook near the parish of Dunboe;
My aged parents they banished me, I mean to let you hear,
I then set out for Yoghal, it was in the pleasant year.

Oh, coming in through Yoghal it being late and after night,
The wind did blow, the rain did fall and the stars showed me no light;
I being among strangers I knew not where to go,
I prayed for God to be my guide and to keep me from my foe.

I travelled on through Yoghal till I came to Mullan Hill
Where there I spied a pretty fair maid and she so lamented still;
I asked her of the reason why she lamented so,
It was the parting of her own true love in the parish of Dunboe

– What was your true love’s name, my dear, come tell to me in plain?
– His name was John McCloskey from the borders of Coleraine;
His aged parents they banished him for the love of me, you know,
[And it causes me for] to lament for him that left Dunboe.

–Dry up your tears, my dear, he says, and weep no more for me
For in wedlock’s bands we’ll join our hands and married we will be;
You have crossed the sea for the love of me, you have faced both friend and foe,
Ay, and I’m your wounded lover from the parish of Dunboe.

[Oh, Yo]ghal is a pretty place and it’s all set round with trees
And in the summer season the honey feeds the bees;
I ofttimes thought upon it before I did it see
[And I] wish I was with my true love or my true love with me.

Now to conclude [and end those] lines [and leave all] things aside,
There is a wee lass in this town [that I have made] my bride;
To her I was engaged and that not long ago
For to wed the widow’s daughter from the parish [of Dunboe.]

Spoken by John: Hear, hear!


John McCloskey’s courtship seems to have a factual basis only lightly disguised by fictional convention; the language of poetry draws a garment of lyricism pleasantly over it. This Derry song merited wider popularity. Two versions are localized in the southwest of the county (B, C), the others, from Magilligan, describe the district some five miles to the east. Bannbrook is near the left bank of the Bann where it enters the sea; ‘Yoghal’, according to Eddie, is also near the river bank; ‘Mullan Hill’ is no doubt for Mullan Head, two miles NW of Coleraine.

The text printed is sung by John except where square brackets indicate help from Eddie.