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The Magpie's Nest

[ Roud 2127 ; Ballad Index K182 ; trad.]

Shirley Collins sang The Magpie's Nest on her 1967 album The Sweet Primeroses. She commented in the album's sleeve notes:

I learned this from a recording made by Peter Kennedy of Annie Jane Kelly of Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland. The lilting refrain indicates that this is a classic Irish dance tune. Gabriel Sullivan, the fine Irish flute player, has a tune called The Cuckoo's Nest that is almost identical.

Jane Kelly's version of The Magpie's Nest can be found on the anthology Songs of Courtship (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 1; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1968).

Lyrics

For if I was a king I would make you a queen,
I would roll you in my arms where the meadows they are green;
I would roll you in my heart's content and I'd lay you down to rest
Long side my Irish colleen in the magpie's nest.

Chorus (after each verse):
Skiddley-eedle-deedle-dowdle-deedle-didle-dum
Di-diddlee-idle-dum, deedle-deedle-didle-dum
Skiddley-eedle-deedle-deedle-didle-deedle-didle-dum
And I'd lay you down to rest in the magpies's nest.

For the magpie's nest it is a cottage neat and clean,
It stands 'longside the Shannon where the meadows they are green.
But I never saw a colleen with such beauties blest
As me little Irish fairy in the magpie's nest.

For I have wandered all through Kerry and I've wandered all through Clare,
From Galway down to Sligo and from there to God knows where.
But I never saw a colleen with such beauties blest
As me little Irish fairy in the magpie's nest.