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(Roud 9665)
John Lyons
Carroll Mackenzie Collection

John Lyons

Oh, were I at the Moss House where the birds do increase,
At the foot of Mount Leinster or in some silent place,
By the streams of Bunclody where all pleasures do meet,
And all I would ask is one kiss from you sweet.

Oh the streams of Bunclody sure they flow down so sweet,
And the streams of Bunclody make sweet music unto me,
And drinking strong liquor in the height of good cheer,
Here’s a health to Bunclody and the lass I love dear.

Now it’s how my love slights me as you might understand.
For she has a freehold and I have no land.
She has plenty of good things and a large store of gold,
And everything fitting, a house to uphold.

Now if I were a clerk and could write a fine hand,
I would write to my true love that she might understand.
But I am a young fellow who is lately in love,
Once I dwelt near Bunclody but now must remove.

So fare thee well father, and mother adieu.
My sisters and brothers, fare thee well unto you;
I am going to America, my fortune to try,
When I think of Bunclody, sure I'm ready to die.


“In spite of this song’s popularity, there is remarkably little information on it; the Roud index gives only one example - the version recorded from Mrs Nellie Walsh of Wexford in 1948. Colm O Lochlainn gives a version of it in his ‘Irish Street Ballads entitled ‘The Maid of Bunclody and the Lad She Loves so Dear’ which he says he learned from his father, who came from Kilkenny. It seems to have first appeared in print in a Broadside version published in 1846. There is a local tradition that ‘The Streams of Bunclody’ was written in America by an immigrant from County Wicklow and sent back to Ireland. We recorded the song several times from Irish Travellers in London. Kerry Traveller Mikeen McCarthy gave us a verse with a sting in the tail:

I oft times have wondered why women love men,
And I more times have wondered why men do love them.
But in all of my ramblings I would have you to know
That men are deceivers wherever they go.”

Jim Carroll


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