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The Tanyard Side
(Laws M28; Roud 1021)
Nora Cleary
The Hand, near Miltown Malbay

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Nora Cleary

I am a rambling hero, and by love I am ensnared.
Near to the town of Baltinglass, there dwells a comely maid.
She is fairer than Diana bright and she’s free from all earthly pride,
She’s that lovely maid; her dwelling place is down by the tanyard side.

Her golden hair in ringlets rare enfold her snow-white neck,
And the killing glances of her eyes would save a ship from wreck.
Her two brown sparkling eyes and her teeth of an ivory white,
It would make a man become her slave, down by the tanyard side.

For six long months we courted, till at last we did agree,
For to acquaint her parents and it’s married we would be,
Until her cruel father, he proved to me unkind,
Which makes me sail across the sea and leave my love behind.

Ah farewell now each parent, and to you I’ll bid adieu,
I’m crossing the main ocean, all for the sake of you,
And if ever I’ll return again, I will make her be my bride,
And I’ll roll her in my arms down by the tanyard side.

“Also known as ‘Down by the Slaney Side’; Herbert Hughes published this song under this title though he designates it as coming from Kerry (‘Irish Country Songs’, vol.2, Herbert Hughes, 1915). It was equally popular in England, Ireland and America; we recorded it from a retired Norfolk fisherman in the early 1970s. It seemed to be extremely popular among country singers in East Anglia although Kenneth Peacock noted that the texts of all the various versions seldom differed much; he put this down to its widely being published in songbooks. A tanyard has always seems to us to be a not particularly romantic meeting place for trysting lovers, with all the odours associated with a trade which once gave rise to the old saying, ‘All wind and piss like a tanyard cat’."
Jim Carroll

See also
The Tanyard Side sung by Pat MacNamara


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