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The Maid of Glencoe
(Laws N39; Roud 515)
Martin Reidy
Tullaghaboy, Connolly
Recorded in singer's home, July 1976

Carroll Mackenzie Collection


Martin Reidy

As I went a-walking one evening of late,
Where Flora’s gay mantle the fields decorate,
I carelessly wandered where I did not know,
By the banks of a fountain that lies near Glencoe.

Like her whom the prize of Mount Ida’s have won,
There approached me a lassie as bright as the sun.
The ribbons and talon [tartan?] around her did flow,
Which graced poor MacDonald, the pride of Glencoe.

I thought she was enchanted, to her I drew nigh,
The red rose and lily in her cheeks seemed to vie.
I asked her her name and how far she’d to go.
She answered me, ‘Kind sir, I am bound for Glencoe.’

‘Now' says I, ‘my fair lady, if your enchanting smile
And comely fair features do my heart beguile,
But if your kind affection on me you bestow,
Ah we’ll bless the happy hour we both met in Glencoe.’

‘Kind Sir’ she made answer, ‘your offer I distain.
I once had a sweetheart, MacDonald by name.
And he went to the war about five year ago,
And a maid I’ll remain till he return to Glencoe.’

‘Perhaps that MacDonald regards not your name,
But has placed his affection on some foreign maid.
Or he might have forgotten, for all that you know,
The lovely young damsel he left in Glencoe.’

‘MacDonald in true love will never depart,
For love, truth and honour, is found in his heart,
And if I do not find him it is single I’ll go,
And I’ll mourn for MacDonald, the pride of Glencoe.’

Then, finding her constant, he drew forth a glove,
As a token she gave him, in parting, of love.
And she clung to his arms and the tears down did flow,
Saying: ‘You’re welcome, my Donald, returned to Glencoe.’

'Cheer up, my dear Flora, your troubles are o’er,
And till death will depart us we’ll never part more.
And the storms of war at a distance may blow,
But in peace and contentment we will live in Glencoe.’

“This Returned Lover/Broken Token song was extremely popular all over the English-speaking world. Sometimes the token revealing the lover’s identity is a ring (see note to ‘Lady in Her Father’s Garden’); here it is a glove. It has been found widely in Britain and Ireland, notably Brigid Tunney’s rendition recorded by the BBC in the 1950s. The song setting itself makes it an ageless favourite; the soldier coming from Glencoe, the location of the famous massacre of 1692; his returning from the Battle of Waterloo (in some versions – not here) coupled with the usually fine tunes that accompany this story and Martin’s beautifully reflective singing have made it one of the warmest memories of the times we spent with the older singers.”
Jim Carroll

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