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Kelvin's Purling Stream

[ Roud 3947 ; Ballad Index Ord345 ; trad.]

John Ord: Bothy Songs and Ballads

Tony Cuffe sang Kelvin's Purling Stream on his posthumous 2003 Greentrax album Sae Will We Yet. The album's booklet noted:

This is just one of many nineteenth and early twentieth-century songs which feature Scotland as the adopted home of Irish emigrants. Like a number of Tony's favourite songs it was collected by John Ord, Superintendent of the Glasgow Police Force, and published in his Bothy Songs and Ballads of 1940. The River Kelvin runs through the West End of the city close to where Tony studied at Glasgow University in the 1970s.

Fiona Ross sang Kelvin's Purling Stream in 2020 on her and Shane O'Mara's CD Sunwise Turn. She noted:

This dates back to the 1850s—a period when large numbers of Irish workers were immigrating to Scotland, and to Glasgow in particular. The River Kelvin flows through Partick where I grew up and lived till my early 20s. This wistful song always makes me reminisce on those years of my life.


Tony Cuffe sings Kelvin's Purling Stream

The summer time being in its prime,
The weather calm and clear;
I left that town called Portadown,
Between me and my dear.
In Glasgow city I arrived
And to Woodside I came;
Where all alone I made my moan
To Kelvin's purling stream.

“Ye stream,” said I, as I passed by,
“Give ear to what I say:
How can you roll without control,
Unto some foreign quay?
Your murmurs pain my bosom sore,
Here stands an honest boy;
He'll ne'er prove false to the girl he loves
Till Kelvin's stream runs dry.”

There's many a pretty little fish
Swims in yon water clear;
There's many a long and a weary mile
Between me and my dear.
There's many a flower grows in yon bower
That would my fancy please,
But I'll ne’er forget the lass I left
Who lives near Lurgan's Braes.