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The Well of Spring Water
(Roud 5215)
Tom Lenihan
Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
Recorded in singer's home, July 1976

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Tom Lenihan

One morning in May as I happened to stray
By a river in sweet recreation,
A lass I espied with a can by her side,
What once won my best admiration.
A picture was she with her hair flowing free,
And her footsteps, the best couldn't fault her.
She sang a gay song as she tripped it along
On her way to the well of spring water.

To be honest and fair now, the truth I declare,
I requested her name and her station.
And in my request found it hard to impress
How ’twould please me to be her relation.
It was not for wealth or that bright hue of health
Or the grace that the fairies had taught her.
She gave me a frown, ah, sez I: “I’m let down.”
She went on for her can of spring water.

I swore ’twas the truth that my love, like her youth,
Was as fresh and as fair as the stream, sure.
My houses and land they were at her command,
And myself would be ever the same, sure.
The look in her eyes and her glances so shy
Told me ’twas not in vain that I sought her.
With a look and a smile that a saint would beguile
She stooped for her can of spring water.

She lifted the can, once again I began,
The story my heart couldn’t smother.
It was ready to melt with love that I felt
For I thought more of her than my mother!
Her lips barely stirred yet I caught not a word.
Her tongue and her step seemed to falter.
The can was upset and the two of us wet,
We fell in to the well of spring water.

The rest that was said, it could never be read,
Though and true it we both disremembered.
We settled it all and, with three Sundays called,
We were married the tenth of September.
No man and his wife had so happy a life -
She’s repeated again in her daughter -
And our little Maureen, trips it over the green
When she goes to that well for spring water.


“Tom learned this from his sister who had picked it up while she was living in America; once again he is one of the main sources of the song; he passed it on to Doolin whistle player Micho Russell, who later recorded it. Tom Munnelly also heard it sung in Wexford. A seven verse broadsheet text appears in one of James N. Healy’s anthologies of street ballads, which clearly demonstrates the country singers’ practice of dispensing with unnecessary verses, or of broadside hacks taking an economically-made country song and stuffing it with over-literate verbiage, as was their practice.”
Jim Carroll

See also
The Well of Spring Water sung by Micho Russell

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