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Banks of Sullane
(Roud 9718)
Ollie Conway
Recorded in Conway’s Bar, Mullagh, September 1973

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Ollie Conway and JJ Lenihan

It was early on a bright harvest morning
I strayed by the banks of Sullane,
To gaze on the beauties of nature
That grace every woodland and lawn.
The prospect was surely entrancing
As gay lassies in juvenile bloom
Promenaded by the banks of that river
That flows near the town of Macroom

I being airy and fond of recreation
To the riverside I ventured to roam,
Till weary of my ramblings and roving
I sat myself down by a grove:
I sat there some time meditating
Till the sun her bright rays had withdrawn,
And a damsel of a queenly appearance
Came down by the banks of Sullane.

I rose with great joy and emotion
And accosted this vision so fair:
Who appeared to me like a Venus
Adorned with jewels most rare.
Were I ruler of France or of Prussia
Sure, tis with me you’d soon wear the crown,
And I’d join you in wedlock, my darling;
You’re the beauty on sweet Masseytown.

We walked and we talked on together,
Inhaling the bright pleasant air,
Until in a voice most unaffected,
She said, “See, my father lives there”.
His presence to me was appalling,
With his cross angry looks and his frown
That pierced through my heart like an arrow,
On my way back to sweet Masseytown.

But now I’m retired from my rovings
With a heart full of sorrow and grief:
There is no one on earth to console me
Or give me a moment’s relief.
I will rove through the African desert
Until death summons me to my tomb,
For the sake of my charming fair Helen
That I met in the town of Macroom.


"This is said to be one of the most popular English ballads of the Ballyvourney and Coolea area in West Cork. Ollie couldn’t remember where he got it, but of the only two versions available in print, it most strongly resembles the set given in Tomás Ó Canainn’s published collection of County Cork songs. Elizabeth Cronin’s son Sean wrote about the song, “The poet Aherne from Clondruhid composed this, I think”.
Ref: ‘Down Erin’s Lovely Lee; Songs of Cork’, Tomás Ó Canainn (ed.), Gilbert Dalton, 1978.
Other recordings: Elizabeth Cronin, accompanying CDs to ‘The Songs of Elizabeth Cronin’, Four Courts Press, 2000."

The above commentary, lyrics and recording are taken from ‘Around the Hills of Clare: Songs and Recitations from the Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie Collection’ (2004) Musical Traditions Records MTCD331-2/Góilín Records 005-6.

See also:
Banks of Sullane sung by John Lyons

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