> Eliza Carthy & Nancy Kerr > Songs > I Know My Love
> Dave Swarbrick > Songs > I Know My Love

I Know My Love

[ Roud 60 ; Laws P25 ; Ballad Index FSWB143 , LP25 ; DT KNOWLOVE ; Mudcat 20116 ; trad.]

James McPeake of Belfast sang I Know My Love, accompanying himself on the harp, on the McPeake Family’s 1963 Topic EP Wild Mountain Thyme. This EP was also included in 2009 on their same-named Topic reissue CD Wild Mountain Thyme.

Eliza Carthy and Nancy Kerr sang I Know My Love in 1995 on their second duo album, Shape of Scrape. A different mix (with a longer intro and a repeated chorus at the end) was later included in their compilation album On Reflection. Eliza Carthy noted on the original album:

Thanks to Ivy Poole and my mum for this. Ivy learned it from the McPeakes of Belfast.

Kevin Dempsey sang I Know My Love in 2006 on Swarb’s Lazarus’ live CD Live and Kicking, and he sang it with Dempsey Robson Tweed on their 2016 CD Dirt Road. He noted:

I first heard I Know My Love sung by Lorna Campbell many years ago. I assumed that it was a Scottish traditional song and started introducing it as such from the stage whereupon the Folk Police collared me and gave me various bits of misleading information. I now have it on the highest authority, Carolyn [Robson], it is in fact an Irish song.

Dutch singer Leoni Jansen sang I Know My Love in 2006 on her CD Heart Strings & Loose Ends.

Maura O’Connell with Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Moya Brennan and Mary Black sang I Know My Love in 2009 on her acappella Sugar Hill album Naked With Friends.

Jon Boden sang I Know My Love as the 26 April 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. In his blog he calls this

Another Irish song I believe, but I know it from Eliza Carthy and Nancy Kerr’s Shape of Scrape album, which is in my opinion is a hugely important album. It certainly had a massive impact on me.

Lady Maisery sang I Know My Love in 2011 on their CD Weave & Spin (which got its name from a phrase in this song). They commented in their liner notes:

This is an Irish song we all know versions of and learnt via osmosis whilst growing up on the folk scene.

This YouTube video shows Lady Maisery singing I Know My Love at the Royal Oak Lewes on 27 October 2011:

Kit Hawes and Aaron Catlow sang I Know My Love on their 2019 CD Pill Pilots.

Anna Tam sang I Know My Love on her 2021 CD Anchoress. She noted:

An Irish traditional song collected by Herbert Hughes and first published in his Irish Country Songs by Boosey and Hawkes in 1909. The melody and harmony seem to go round in circles, perfectly fitting the singer’s mood. The verses are sung in the first person but, as the chorus is in the third, it gives us a distance—allowing us to become a little exasperated with the girl in a gentle way.


Eliza Carthy and Nancy Kerr sing I Know My Love

I know my love by his way of walking
And I know my love by his way he’s talking
And I know my love in his suit of blue
And if my love leaves me what will I do?

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
And still she cried, I love him the best
And a troubled mind knows no rest
And still she cried, bonny boys are few
But if my love leaves me, what will I do?

If my love knew I could wash and wring
If my love knew I could weave and spin
I’d make a jacket of the finest kind
But for want of money he’s left me behind

There is a dance hall in Maradyke
There my love goes almost every night
He takes a strange girl upon his knee
Now don’t you think that it vexes me

I know my love is an errant rover
I know my love sails the whole world over
In foreign lands he is sure to tarry
And some foreign girl he is sure to marry