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The Lovely Banks of Boyne
(Roud 2891)
Austin Flanagan
Luogh, Doolin
Recorded in singer's home, August 1974

Carroll Mackenzie Collection


I am a youthful damsel, I love my laddie well.
But how he proved untrue to me, I’m sure no tongue can tell.
It was in my father’s garden he won this heart of mine,
And he left me here to wander on the lovely banks of Boyne.

He courted me a year or two, and promised me we’d wed.
First he gained my favour and then from me he fled.
His love it flew like the morning dew as the sun began to shine,
And he quite forgot young Flora on the lovely banks of Boyne.

I understand this false young man to London went away.
I packed up all my jewellery upon that very day.
I bid goodbye to parents kind who now for me are crying,
And I left my father’s castle on the lovely banks of Boyne.

So when I landed safely on lovely England town,
I was told my lad was married to a lady of renown.
So ladies guess my feelings and show me all desire,
And don’t be like young Flora on the lovely banks of Boyne.

Farewell unto those purling streams which now lies far away.
Where me and my bonny young Irish lad did oft times sport and play.
It’s in the walls of Bethlehem I’ll spend my youthful days,
In iron balls and rattling chains far from the banks of Boyne


"Only two other versions of this are documented as having been recovered from the oral tradition, both from Ulster. The ‘Bethlehem’ named in the song refers to Bethlehem Hospital (Bedlam) in London. Originally the hospital was sited near Bishopsgate, just outside the walls of the City of London. It moved to Moorfields just outside the Moorgate in the 17th century, then to St George's Fields in Southwark in the 19th century, before moving to its current location at Monks Orchard near Croydon in 1930. The word bedlam, meaning uproar and confusion, is derived from the hospital's nickname. Although the hospital became a modern psychiatric facility, historically it was representative of the worst excesses of asylums before reform. A popular pastime of Londoners up to its move from Moorfield was to view and taunt the inmates through the bars surrounding the recreation yard, for which pleasure they would be charged a penny. Popular balladry has many an abandoned young woman being driven insane with despair and ending up confined to Moorfields Bedlam."
Jim Carroll

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