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Red is the Rose
Tom Lenihan
Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
Recorded in singer's home, March 1988

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Tom Lenihan

'Twas down by Killarney's green vales I did stray,
The moon and the stars they were shining.
The moon it shone fair in her head of golden hair
And she vowed she'd be my love forever.

Chorus:
For red is the rose that in yonder garden grows,
And fair are the lilies of the valleys.
And clear is the water that flow from the Boyne,
But my love is fairer than any.

'Twas down by Killarney's green vales I did stray,
The moon and the stars they were shining.
The moon it shone fair on her head of golden hair
And she vowed she'd be my love forever.

Chorus:
For red is the rose that in yonder garden grows,
And fair are the lilies of the valleys.
And clear is the water that flow from the Boyne,
But my love is fairer than any.

‘Tis not for the parting of my sister Kate,
‘Tis not for the loss of my mother.
But ‘tis all for the loss of my bonny Irish lass,
Who is leaving old Ireland for ever.

Chorus:
For red is the rose that in yonder garden grows,
And fair are the lilies of the valleys.
And clear is the water that flow from the Boyne,
But my love is fairer than any.


“This is often referred to as a traditional Irish song though it does not appear on any indexes as such; it is very popular with many Irish singers. There are several versions, all coinciding with Tom’s text, more or less; the air is invariably that associated with the Scottish song, Loch Lomond. Two further examples from Irish American singers:

Red is the Rose (A)
Red is the rose that in yonder garden grows
Fair is the lily of the valley
Clear is the water that flows in yonder stream
And my love, it is fairer than any.

Over the Mountain, and down into the Glen,
To a little Irish Cot in the Valley
Where the Thrush and the Linnett sing their ditties and their songs
And my love leaning over the half door

Down by the sea shore, on a cool summers eve,
With the wind blowing over the heather,
Oh, the moon it shone fair, through her threads of golden hair
And she vowed she would love me forever

It’s not for parting with my sister Kate,
It’s not for the loss of my Mother….
It’s all for the loss of my bonnie Irish lass
That I’m Leaving my homeland forever.

Red is the Rose (B)
Come over the hills, my bonnie Irish lass
Come over the hills to your darling
You choose the rose, love, and I’ll make the vow
And I’ll be your true love forever.

Chorus
Red is the rose that in yonder garden grows
Fair is the lily of the valley
Clear is the water that flows from the Boyne
But my love is fairer than any.

‘Twas down by Killarney’s green woods that we strayed
When the moon and the stars they were shining
The moon shone its rays on her locks of golden hair
And she swore she’d be my love forever.
Chorus

It’s not for the parting that my sister pains
It’s not for the grief of my mother
‘Tis all for the loss of my bonny Irish lass
That my heart is breaking forever.
Chorus.”

Jim Carroll


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