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Loving Sailor Boy
(Laws K13; Roud 376)
Martin Howley
Fanore, north west Clare
Recorded in singer's home, summer 1975

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Martin Howley

It being a cold and stormy night as the snow lay on the ground,
A sailor boy stood on the quay his ship was outfor bound.
His true lover standing by his side shed many a bitter tear
And as he pressed her to his breast he whispered in her ear.

‘Farewell, farewell my own true love, this parting gives me pain.
You’ll be my own, my guiding star till I return again.
My thoughts will be on you my love, when the storms are raging high,
So fair thee well, remember me your loving sailor boy.’

The ship set sail out on the gale and the lass she was standing by.
She watched the vessel out of sight till the tears were dimmed her eye.
She prayed to him on heaven above to guide him on his way,
The last fond words her true lover said re-echoed o’er the bay.

‘Farewell, farewell my own true love this parting gives me pain.
You’ll be my own, my guiding star till I return again.
My thoughts will be on you my love when the storms are raging high,
So fair thee well, remember me your loving sailor boy.’

The ship returned but sad to say without that sailor boy.
He died at sea all on his way when the flag was half-mast high.
But when his comrades came on shore they told her he was dead,
And a letter that he sent her, these are the words he said:

‘Farewell, farewell, my own true love it’s on earth we’ll meet no more.
I hope we’ll meet on heaven above, that bright eternal shore.
I hope we’ll meet on heaven above, that land beyond the sky,
For you never shall be parted from your loving sailor boy.’


“This is usually known as ‘The Faithful Sailor Boy’ or ‘The Sailor’s Farewell’. Referring to the Aberdeenshire versions, Gavin Greig wrote of it: ‘This is a very popular song. Both the language and the sentiment show it to be quite modern. The tune too appears to be modern, although it may be older than it looks.’ In contrast with the older songs, in particular ‘The Sailor’s Life’, Greig places it among ‘the smooth and sentimental versifiers of the present day’ (1920s). Joseph Ranson included a version given to him by Mrs Grattan Flood of Enniscorthy, a relative of the noted author, composer, musicologist and historian W.H. Grattan Flood. It was popular among traditional singers in England; we recorded it from two Norfolk singers, including Walter Pardon, and it also put in an appearance in the U.S. and Canada."

Reference:
The Greig–Duncan Folk Song Collection (vol. I), Aberdeen University Press, 1981.
Songs of the Wexford Coast collected by Joseph Ranson, 1948.

Jim Carroll

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