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Maid of the Sweet Brown Knowe
(Roud 562; Laws P7)
Pat MacNamara
Kilshanny, near Ennistymon
Recorded in Kilshanny, summer 1975

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Pat McNamara

Come all you lads and lassies now and listen to me a while.
I'll sing to you a verse or two which cause you all to smile.
It's all about a young man I'm going to tell you now,
Who lately fell courtin' with the maid of the sweet brown knowe.

'Now then, now me pretty fair maid, you come along with me.
We'll join our hands in wedlock bands and married we will be.
We'll join our hands in wedlock bands and meet and mate you now,
And I'll do my whole endeavours for the maid of the sweet brown knowe.'

'Ah, young man, I like your behaviour, but I am not ready now,
For I’ll tarry another season at the foot of the sweet brown knowe.
Look down on yonder valleys where my gentle crops will grow.
Look down on yonder valleys at my horses, men and plough,
For they're at that daily labour for the maid of the sweet brown knowe.'

'If they're at their daily labour, kind sir, it's not for me.
For I've heard of your behaviour, I have indeed,' said she.
'For there is an inn where you call in, as I hear the people say,
That you rap and you call and you pay for all and go home at the break of day.'

'Now if I rap and I call I pay for all, that money is all my own.
I had right known of your fortune yet, for I hear you have got none.
You thought you had my poor heart worn by meeting with you now,
But I'll just leave you where I got you at the foot of the sweet brown knowe.'


“The earliest reported account of this in print was as a Broadside entitled ‘Maid of the Sweet Brown Howe’ produced in Dublin in 1867. It appeared in America under various titles such as ‘The Maid of the Logan Bough’ and ‘The Maid of the Mountain Brow’. Numerous suggestions have been made as to the meaning of ‘Brown Knowe’: that it was a ‘knoll’ with Middle English and Norse antecedents, a knowe (rounded hill) or the Gaelic word ‘cnoc’, meaning hill or mountain. The location for the song is said to be on the Ramelton/Rathmullan Road in County Donegal, the left turn or elbow on the road to Ramelton at the bottom of the hill is known locally as the Brown Knowe.”

Jim Carroll

See also
Maid of the Sweet Brown Knowe sung by Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan

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