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Bonny Labouring Boy
(Laws M14; Roud 129)
Pat MacNamara
Kilshanny, near Ennistymon
Recorded in Kilshanny, summer 1975

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Pat McNamara

As I roved out one evening, all in the blooming spring,
Sure, I heard a damsel most grievously did sing,
Saying, 'Cruel was my parents who did me so annoy,
For they would not let me tarry with my bonny labouring boy.'

So come fill your glasses to the brim, let the toast go merrily round,
Here’s a health to every labouring boy that ploughs and sows the ground,
For when his days at work is over, sure home he’ll steer with joy,
And happy is that girl who gets a bonny labouring boy.

Oh his cheeks, they’re like the roses red, [his eyes are black as sloes,]
He’s mild in his behaviour, no matter where he goes,
He’s proper styled, both neat and wild in every degree,
If I got my wish I would be still in my love’s company.

So come fill your glasses to the brim, let the toast go merrily round,
Here’s a health to every labouring boy who ploughs and sows the ground,
For when his day’s work is over sure, home he’ll steer with joy,
And happy is that girl who gets a bonny labouring boy.

Says the mother to the daughter, 'How do you talk so strange,
To marry a labouring boy, this world for to range?
Some noble lord might fancy you, great riches you’d enjoy,
So do not throw yourself away with any labouring boy.'

So come fill your glasses to the brim, let the toast go merrily around,
Here’s a health to every labouring boy who ploughs and sows the ground,
For when his day’s work is over, sure home he’ll steer with joy,
And happy is that girl who gets a bonny labouring boy.

Said the daughter to the mother, 'Now your talk is all in vain,
For I’d not dukes and earls, their offers I distain,
For I’d rather lead a humble life where great times I might enjoy,
And wait in happy prospects for my bonny labouring boy.'

"This song of social misalliance and parental intervention dates back to the late 18th/early 19th century and has been a firm favourite with rural English traditional singers since then. Colm O Lochlainn got his version from a street singer in Waterford in 1910 and it was included in Patrick Joyce’s ‘Irish Peasant Songs’. As popular as it was with country singers, it appeared in Britain and Ireland far more on broadsides than it did in published collections."
Jim Carroll


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