If I were a Blackbird

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  • Teideal (Title): If I were a Blackbird.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 843503.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 387.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): song.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Sonia Tamar Seeman.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 1982.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): private.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

If I were a blackbird I’d whistle and sing
I’d follow the ship that my true love sails in
On the top rigging I’d there build my nest
And I’d pillow my head on his lily-white breast.

I am young maiden, my story is sad
For once I was courted by a brave sailor lad;
He courted me truly by night and by day,
And now he has left me and gone far away.


He sailed o’er the ocean his fortune to seek
I miss his caresses, his kiss on my cheek
He courted my truly, his friendship was warm
And I long for the sight of his brave manly form.


He promised to take me to Donnybrook Fair
And he’d buy me a red ribbon to tie up my hair
He then left me with a turn of the tide
And he promised to make me his own darling bride.


His parents they chided me, I would not agree
That me and my bonnie boy married should be
But let them deride me, or say what they will
While I’ve blood in my body, he’s the lad I love still.



This song appears, with a variant of the same air, in Colm O Lochlainn, Irish Street Ballads (Dublin, 1939), 92. Joe’s version here contains one additional verse.