She Moved Through the Fair

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  • Teideal (Title): She Moved Through the Fair.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 781508.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 861.
  • 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): unavailable.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 24/02/1978.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): day class.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable

At the time this song was made, ‘She Moved Through the Fair,’ TB was a deadly disease. Now, she knew she was dying of TB. But she didn’t want, eh- Everybody was talking that they’d never get married because she had this particular disease. Anyway, she died without him marrying her.

My young love said to me, my mother won’t mind
And my father won’t slight you for your lack of kind1
Then she stepped away from me, and this she did say
‘It will not be long, love, till our wedding day.’

She stepped away from me, and moved through the fair
And fondly I watched her move here and move there
She then turned homeward with one star awake
As the swan in the evening moves over the lake.

And the people were saying that us two’d never wed
For one has a sorrow that I mustn’t tell
She sighed as she passed with her goods and her gear
And that was the last I saw of my dear.

Last night she came to me, my dead love came in
So softly she came, that her feet made no din
She laid her hand o’er me, and this she did say,
‘It will not be long, love, till our wedding day.’


1. i.e. kin; family status.

In 1979, Joe tried to persuade Lucy Simpson that the last line of the song, as he remembered it sung by everyone at home, should be ‘It will not be long, love, ’til next market day’ (UW85-39.3). Whatever about that, there’s no doubt that this was an extremely popular song. The version Joe sings here is the commonly-heard version adapted from traditional material by writer Padraic Colum (1881-1972) who is said to have encountered the song originally in Donegal; the air was arranged by Herbert Hughes (1882-1937), who also arranged ‘Down by the Sally Gardens’ and ‘My Lagan Love’.

This song was recorded while Joe was Artist in Residence at University of Washington.