> Folk Music > Songs > Bonny Portmore

Bonny Portmore

[ Roud 3475 ; Henry H775 ; Ballad Index OBoy005 ; Mudcat 25493 , 15567 ; trad.]

Sam Henry’s Songs of the People The Irish Song Tradition—25 Irish Songs

Bert Jansch sang The Ornament Tree (Bonny Portmore) in 1990 as the title track of his Run River album The Ornament Tree.

Maggie Boyle sang Bonny Portmore in 2005 on the CD with Duck Baker and Ben Paley of traditional Irish and American music, The Expatriate Game. The album’s liner notes commented:

Bonny Portmore is a little gem, lamenting the breaking up and selling of Lord Conway’s estate of Portmore, near Lough Neagh. Maggie got this song nearly 30 years ago from Seán O’Boyle’s brilliant book, The Irish Song Tradition—25 Irish Songs. According to Mr O’Boyle’s notes the ornament tree of the song was “the Great Oak of Portmore which was blown down in 1760. It was fourteen yards in circumference. A single branch of it was sold for nine pounds; the trunk fetched ninety-seven.” Some wind!

Lucinda Williams sang Bonny Portmore in 2006 on the anthology of pirate ballads, sea songs and chanteys, Rogue’s Gallery.

The Rails sang Bonny Portmore in 2014 on their CD Fair Warning.

See also the related songs Bonnie Udny. and The Boys of Kilkenny / The Chaps of Cockaigny.


Maggie Boyle sings Bonny Portmore

O bonny Portmore you shine where you stand
And the more I think on you the more I think long.
If I had you now as I had once before
All the lords in old England would not purchase Portmore.

O bonny Portmore I am sorry to see
Such woeful destruction of your ornament tree.
For it stood on your banks for many’s the long day
’Til the longboats from Antrim came to float it away.

All the birds in the forest they bitterly weep,
Saying, where will we shelter or where will we sleep?
For the oak and the ash they are all cutten down
And the walls of bonny Portmore are all down to the ground.

(repeat first verse)