> Folk Music > Songs > The Maid of Mourne Shore / The Moorlough Shore
The Maid of Mourne Shore / The Moorlough Shore
; Henry H34b
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; DT MOORLUGH
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Gale Huntington: Sam Henry’s Songs of the People
John McGettigan sang The Maid of the Moorlough Shore in a 1937 recording made in Philadelphia. It was included in 1979 on the Topic album of classic recordings of Irish traditional music in America, John McGettigan and His Irish Minstrels.
Jim O’Neill of Markethill, Co. Armagh, sang The Moorlough Shore to Peter Kennedy and Sean O’Boyle on 12 July 1952. This recording was included in 1995 on the Saydisc anthology Traditional Songs of Irland and in 2012 on the Topic anthology Good People, Take Warning (The Voice of the People Volume 23).
Peta Webb sang The Moorlough Shore in 1973 on her Topic album I Have Wandered in Exile. Reg Hall and A.L. Lloyd noted:
Another song of exile and estrangement, Moorlough is a hilly district near Strabane, Northern Ireland, for some reason much favoured by the unsophisticated poets whose work appeared on so many song-sheets for sale on fairgrounds and street corners. The tune is best known for its attachment to the 1916 political song The Foggy Dew (“As down the glen one Easter morn to a city fair rode I”), containing the sonorous line: “While Britannia’s Huns with their great big guns sailed in through the Foggy Dew.”
Kevin Mitchell sang The Moorlough Shore on his 1977 Topic album Free and Easy. John Moulden noted:
A song of unrequited love which ends in the emigration of the unsuccessful suitor. Kevin has it from Jimmy McHugh, the Glasgow/Tyrone fiddler and the version is exactly (save that the air has been made grander) that which was sung on a 78rpm record made by John McGettigan in the 1930s. McGettigan was an interesting, if over-rhythmical and unstylish, singer who, with his “Irish Minstrels”, recorded many songs including one which starts “I love my whiskey, my lovely Irish whiskey” to the tune of I Love a Lassie! In a number of cases these and other records had an effect on the tradition similar to that of ballad sheets. (See The Lurgy Streams and Going to Mass Last Sunday.) The song is sung mostly in the north of Antrim and Derry, where it is identified with Murlough Bay, and in south and east Down where it is The Maid of Mourne Shore (Sam Henry collection, Songs of the People no. 34b). Some of the placenames in the present version suggest a Tyrone setting. The air is very widely known as the one which, in simpler form, attaches to Yeats’ song Down by the Sally Gardens.
Martin Reidy of Tullochaboy, Connolly, sang Maid of the Moorlough Shore in October 1977 to Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie. This recording was included in 2004 on the Musical Traditions anthology of songs from the Carroll and Mackenzie collection, Around the Hills of Clare. Jim Carroll and Rod Stradling noted:
The title Maid of the Moorlough Shore at first suggests the location as being Murlough Bay, north Antrim, but it has also been found as Maid of Mourne Shore which places it further south. This might explain Martin’s reference to the River Shann, as an outlet to Lough Shannagh flows through Silent Valley from the Mourne Mountains, emerging out to the sea at Kilkeel, South Down.
Hugh Shields links it to this latter area with a local story of a miller’s daughter betrothed to a fisherman, the marriage fixed to take place on the eve of Greencastle Fair. Her lover is drowned in a storm and the girl, finding the body, loses her mind and is herself drowned.
Ref: Shamrock, Rose and Thistle, Hugh Shields, Blackstaff Press, 1981
Other recordings: Desmond Ward; Plumbridge, Co Tyrone, Harvest Home No.1; Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Robert Cinnamond, Record No. 24840, BBC Archive.
Gordon Tyrrall sang The Banks of the Moorlough Shore in 1978 on his Hill & Dale album Farewell to Foggy Hills.
Ben Winship and Davie Thompson played Banks of the Moorlough Shore on their 2003 CD Fishing Music.
Roisín White sang Moorlough Shore at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife in May 2003 and May 2004. This track was included in 2005 on the festival anthology Here’s a Health to the Company (Old Songs & Bothy Ballads Volume 1).
Helen Diamond sang The Maid on the Mourne Shore on her eponymous 2018 CD of traditional unaccompanied singing from Ireland, Helen Diamond. She noted:
I was immediately drawn to the unusual melody of this version, from Robert Cinnamond. I heard it first in the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin.
Martin Reidy sings Maid of the Moorlough Shore
You hills and dells and flowery vales
that lies near the Moorlough shore,
You winds that blows on the Baltic shore, will I ever see you more?
Where the primrose grows and the violet blows, where the trout and the salmon plays,
With my line and hook, delight I took, with the friends of my youthful days.
As I roved out to see my love,
to hear what she might say,
Or to see if she’d take pity on me before I go away;
She says: “I loved an Irish lad and he was my only joy
And ever since I saw his face, I loved that soldier boy.”
“Perhaps your soldier boy is lost
while on the raging main,
Or perhaps he’s gone with another maid, you may never see him again.”
“Oh, if my soldier boy is lost, he’s the one I do adore;
Seven years I’ll wait for him on the banks of the Moorlough shore.”
Farewell to Sewell’s Castle grand,
farewell to College Hill,
Where the linnet wades thy sparkling streams and the falling Shann runs still.
’Twas there I spent my youthful days, but alas they are no more,
For cruelty has banished me far away from the Moorlough shore.
Roisín White sings The Moorlough Shore
You hills and dales and flowery vales that lie near the Moorlough Shore,
You winds that blow o’er Martin’s Hill, will I e’er see you more;
Where the primrose grows and the violets blow, the trout and the salmon play,
With my line and hook, delight I took to spend my youthful day.
Last night I went to see my girl to hear what she might say,
That she might take some pity on me for I was going away;
She said, “I love a sailor boy and him I do adore,
So take this as your answer now and trouble me no more.”
“Perhaps your sailor laddie’s lost while crossing o’er the main.
Or perhaps he’s met some other fair maid, you’ll not see him again.”
“Well if my sailor boy is lost no other I’ll never enjoy,
For ever since I saw his face I love my sailor boy.”
Our good ship lies at Warren Point right ready for to sail,
May the winds that blow may favour her with a sweet and pleasant gale;
And I ten hundred pounds in gold or had I ten times more,
I would leave it all to the girl I love that dwells near Moorlough Shore.
Farewell unto Lord Antrim’s groves where stands the linen mill,
Where the linen cloth lies clean and white and the crystal streams run still;
Where many’s the pleasant hour I’ve spent but now alas they’re o’er,
Since the girl I love has banished me far, far from the Moorlough Shore.
Helen Diamond sings The Maid on the Mourne Shore
Ye hills and dales and flowery vales that lie around the Mourne Shore,
Ye winds that blow o’er Martin’s hills, will I ever hear you more?
Where the primrose grows and the violet blows, and the speckled trout there plays,
With my line and hook, delight I took, to spend my youthful days.
Last night I went to see my love, to hear what she would say,
Thinking she might pity me, lest I should go away.
She says, “I love a sailor, he’s the lad that I do adore,
And for seven years I will wait on him, so trouble me no more.”
“Perhaps your sailor may be lost in crossing o’er the main,
Or otherwise has fixed his mind upon some comely dame.”
“Well if the sea proves false to me, no other I will enjoy,
For ever since I saw his face I loved my sailor boy.”
So farewell to Lord Edward’s groves, likewise to the bleaching green,
Where the linen webs lie neat and white, clear flows the crystal stream,
Where many’s the happy days I spent, but now, alas, they’re o’er,
Since the girl I love has banished me, far, far from the Mourne shore.
Our ship she lies at Warren’s point, all ready to set sail,
May all goodness now protect her with a smooth and a pleasant gale.
Had I ten thousand pounds in gold or had I ten times more,
I would freely give it to that girl I love, the maid on the Mourne shore.