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The Labouring Man’s Daughter
(Roud 595)
Martin Howley
Fanore, north west Clare
Recorded in singer's home,
summer 1975

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Martin Howley

In a dreamland one night I beheld on a dream,
And it was of a poor earthly creature.
No fortune I’ll take but a journey I’ll make
Back to Ireland to see that fair one.

He rode very fast many towns did he pass,
Many miles did he ride in an hour.
Till he came to the door where she stood on the floor
And she being but a labouring man’s daughter.

I have never seen you before, Miss, but once in my life,
And it was in a dream first I saw you.
And since I have met with your dark rolling eye,
I hope you shall never deny me.

A fool unto me Miss, you never will be,
But a lady of honour I’ll make you.
I have servants at home, for to wait upon you.
I have houses and land to maintain you.

My father is dead and my mother likewise.
I have only myself and one brother.
And as for my friends I don’t care a pen,
If we only could love one another.

Then love, is like a stone that hangs on a string,
And a string that’s quite easily broken.
If you took the advice that I gave unto you,
When I gave you the ring as a token.

Those couple they got married we hear the people say,
They lived happy, united together.
For the labouring man’s daughter, married the squire,
And may the heavens shine on them forever.


“A song that probably started life on the broadside presses, it has been found mainly in Britain under various titles including ‘The Cornish Young Man’s Dream’, ‘The Knight’s Dream’, ‘The Knight’ and ‘The Labouring Man’s Daughter’. In a BBC recording from 1956 of Mrs Angela Mulkere from Crusheen, her text places the events in the frozen north, in Greenland. Confusingly, a version gives ‘The Outlandish Knight’ as the dreamer, introducing the murderous suitor from ‘Lady Isobel and the Elf Knight’ (Child Ballad No. 4) into the action.”
Jim Carroll

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