The Lisburn maid, song

Robert Butcher senior
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There was no sound recording made of this song.  For the air, cf. no 5, ‘The banks of Kilrea’.


One evening for my recreation as I strayed by the foot of a hill
Where the wee birds did consult together, by the rocks yon clear fountain ran still,
I defied all the snares of sly Cupid that e’er could her bosom enaid,
Like a damsel she left me quite heartless, some call her the Lisburn maid.

I stepped up unto this fair damsel saying, – my darling, come tell me your name,
I am sure unto me you’re a stranger or I ne’er would ask you the same.
– It’s pardon I grant for my freedom, from my parents I was led astray,
If they knew they would surely ill-use me, said my charming sweet Lisburn maid.

– Then if that your parents would ill-use you, come with me to the county Kildare
And when that my parents do see you they surely will welcome you there.
And when that he got her right willing along with him there for to stray
They lovingly sat down together until the first breaking of day.
Then they parted a while for to wander and promised to meet in a shade
And when he got her in a slumber he forsook his Lisburn maid.

– Then, my dear, if I left you to wander, sure it was not designedly, you know,
For I was providing a dwelling at the foot of yon hill where you know;
I was providing a dwelling at the foot of yon hill near a shade,
So my darling, I’ll never forsake you, said he to his Lisburn maid.


Though imperfect this text has rarity value: no other version is known to me. No doubt the ‘Lisburn’ maid may have originated elsewhere – in the south perhaps – and the song may be in print in a form not readily identifiable. ‘The Lisburn lass/Maid of Lisburn town’ – see Notes – is a different song.

The narrative pattern is conventional: encounter, courtship, separation (a test or trick by the lover?), happy reunion. But linking and motivation are confused. Notice however that ‘heartless’ in 1.4 means, not that the ‘damsel’ is callous, but that the lover has lost his heart to her.

[Note by Lisa Shields: Hugh took down the words of 'The Lisburn Maid' in Robert Butcher's house in August 1961, but was unable to make a sound recording.  Its air  is very close to no 5, ‘The banks of Kilrea’, sung by Jimmy Butcher. Robert sang another song, ‘Erin's green shore’, to the same air.]