Search

 

Down by Yon Riverside

Down by yon riverside, song / Arthur Coulter & Mary Heaney, singing in English

Down by yon riverside, song / Arthur Coulter & Mary Heaney, singing in English

Oh as I roved out one evening down by yon riverside
And looking all around me sure, a nice wee girl I spied
Red and rosy was her cheek, gold yellow was her hair
Aye and costly were the robes of gold my Irish girl did wear

Oh the sort of shoes that my love wore were of a Spanish brown
The sort of shoes that my love wore were all bound round with span
So saying, alas what shall I do for the sake of stor machree
Oh or must I go and leave my love and slight my own Mary?

Now the second time that I saw my love I was sick and very bad
And all the request I asked of her was ‘Tie my weary head’
‘For I’ve seen one as bad as you and times will mend again
Ah for love it is a killing thing, did you ever feel the pain?’

Oh I wished my love was a red red rose growing in yon garden fair
And I to be the gardener: of her I would take great care
There’s not a month throughout the year but my love I would renew
I would garnish her with flowers fine, sweet william, thyme and rue

Oh I wished I was a butterfly, I’d light on my love’s breast
Or if I was a nightingale I would sing my love to rest
Or if I was a blue cuckoo I’d sing to the morning clear
I would sit and sing for you darling, because I love you dear

I wished I was in Dublin just sitting on the grass
And in my hand a bottle of wine and on my knee a wee lass
I’d call for liquor of the best and pay before I go
I would sail along by Belfast quay, let the winds blow high or low.

Notes from Hugh Shields

The text follows Arthur in matters of detail. Verse 2 ii span is unexplained. 2 iii stor machree ‘my heart’s desire“. 4 i, 5 i, 6 i wished: a common form of Ulster dialect, probably originally subjunctive. [?] On broadsides the song was usually entitled “The Irish girl” (cf. M Dean-Smith’s A guide to English folk-song collections, 1822–1952 (nd:78). A song in Irish, “Sráid an bhóithrín bhuí” (“Bhí mé gan amhras ag siúl sráid an bhóithrín bhuí,” for which see Shields Index no 374, corresponds textually with vv. 3, 6, and perhaps 1. Shields Index no 120.