Banks of Sweet Dundee, The

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  • Teideal (Title): Banks of Sweet Dundee, The.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 781516.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 148.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): M28.
  • 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): Cynthia Thiessen.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 07/03/1978.
  • 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): Fredric Lieberman.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Long ago, when a well-to-do farmer’s son, or a squire, or a lord, fancied a good-looking girl, usually they got their way, and the uncle or the father gave the girl away to the squires. But there’s an awful lot of songs about the girl who loved her plowboy.

It’s of a farmer’s daughter, so beautiful I’m told
Her parents died and left her a large amount of gold.
She lived with her uncle, the cause of all her woe;
But you soon shall hear how this maiden fair did prove his overthrow.

Her uncle had a ploughboy young Mary loved quite well
And in her uncle’s garden their tales of love did tell.
There was a wealthy squire who oft came her to see;
But still she loved her ploughboy on the banks of sweet Dundee.

‘Twas on a Sunday morning her uncle went straightway
He knocked on this maiden’s door, and this to her did say:
‘Arise, arise, my lovely maid, a lady you can be
For the squire is waiting for you on the banks of sweet Dundee.’

‘I care not for your squires, your lords or dukes likewise
My Willie he appears to me as diamonds in the sky.’
‘Begone, unruly female, you ne’er shall happy be,
For I will banish Willie from the banks of sweet Dundee.’

The press-gang came on Willie while he was all alone
He bravely fought for liberty, but they were six-to-one
His blood it flew in torrents, ‘Pray kill me now,’ said he
For I will die for Mary on the banks of sweet Dundee.

As Mary was out walking, lamenting for her love,
She met the wealthy squire down by her uncle’s grove
He threw his arms around her, ‘Stand off, bad man,’ says she
‘For you sent the only lad I loved from the banks of sweet Dundee.’

He threw his arms around her and tried to throw her down
A pistol and a sword she spied beneath his evening gown
She took the pistol from him, and the sword he used quite free
But she did fire, and she shot the squire on the banks of sweet Dundee.

Her uncle overheard the noise, and hastened to the ground.
‘Since you have killed the squire I will give you your death-wound!’
‘Stand off, bad man,’ said Mary, ‘undaunted I’ll ne’er be!’
The trigger she drew and her uncle slew on the banks of sweet Dundee.

A doctor he was sent upon, a man of noted skill
After that, a lawyer, for her uncle to sign his will.
He willed his gold to Mary, who fought so manfully
He closed his eyes, no more to rise, on the banks of sweet Dundee.


Ríonach Ní Fhlaitheartaigh’s Clár Amhrán Bhaile na hInse lists this song as having been recorded in 1942 by Séamas Ennis from an informant in Feenish Island (CBÉ 1280, 233-5), and a recording of it also exists in the collection housed in Áras Shorcha Ní Ghuairim (Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge), Roisín na Mainiach, Carna.
On this same occasion, Joe was reminded of another song to the same air; see The Squire of Edinburgh Town.

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