> Folk Music > Songs > Down By the Tan Yard Side / The Slaney Side

Down By the Tan Yard Side / The Slaney Side

[ Roud 1021 ; Master title: Down By the Tan Yard Side ; Laws M28 ; Henry H52b ; Ballad Index LM28 ; Mudcat 169885 ; trad.]

Colm O Lochlainn: Irish Street Ballads Gale Huntington: Sam Henry's Songs of the People

Frank Quinn recorded The Tan Yard Side in New York in January 1926 (matrix W106215-3; Columbia 33077F). This was included in 1998 on the Topic anthology Who's That at My Bed Window? (The Voice of the People Volume 10).

Sang Larner sang The Tanyard Side to Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger in 1958-60. This recording was included in 2014 on his Musical Traditions anthology Cruising Round Yarmouth.

Tom and Chris Willett sang The Tanyard Side to Ken Stubbs in 1961. This recording was included in 2013 both on the Willett Family's Forest Tracks anthology, A-Swinging Down the Lane, and on their Musical Traditions anthology, Adieu to Old England. Another field recording made by Peter Kennedy at Paddock Wood, Kent, on 4 September 1963 was included in 2012 on the Topic anthology I'm a Romany Rai (The Voice of the People Volume 22). Rod Stradling noted on the MT anthology:

Roud has 45 instances of this lovely song, mostly from England (I had always thought it was Irish), including 11 sound recordings. Neither this nor the Phoebe Smith version share much in the way of text or melody with Frank Quinn’s Columbia 78. This recording by Tom and Chris is the only recent collection from outside East Anglia.

Phoebe Smith sang The Tan Yard Side at home in Melton, Woodbridge, Suffolk, in 1969 to Paul Carter and Frank Purslow. This was released in the following year on her Topic album Once I Had a True Love, and it was also included in 1998 on the Topic anthology My Father's the King of the Gypsies (The Voice of the People Volume 11). Frank Purslow noted on the original album:

This is its English title. Of Irish origin, the usual title is The Slaney Side, although it has others. Phoebe’s tune is the usual one for the song. One of the pleasantest of this type of 19th-century broadside pieces; in full versions the girl’s father hands the young man over to the press gang.

Tom and Chris Willett sang Down By the Tan Yard Side to Peter Kennedy at Paddock Wood, Kent, 4 September 1963. This was included in 2012 on the Topic anthology I'm a Romany Rai (The Voice of the People Volume 22).

Robbie O'Connell sang The Tanyard Side (The Irish Girl) on the 2003 Folk-Legacy anthology of traditional Irish-American songs from the Helen Hartness Flanders ballad collection, Irish Songs from Old New England.

Jim Causley sang Down By the Tan-Yard Side in 2005 on his first, WildGoose album Fruits of the Earth. He noted:

The beauty of this song from Phoebe Smith never fails to turn me into a blubbering dollop of jelly although I'm sure her singing could melt the hardest of hearts. I hope the pretty girl in the song appreciated how much she was adored.

Sam Lee sang The Tan Yard Side on his 2012 album Ground of Its Own and on the 2021 extended reissue of his 2020 album, Old Wow+. The latter track was also included in 2021 on the anthology The Electric Muse Revisited.

Nick Dow sang Down By the Tanyard Side on his 2016 album The Devil in the Chest. He noted:

Learned by me from Mary Lee, who in her turn learned it from her sisters, and her grandmother. Another of the Street Ballads in Colm O Lochlainn. This one has one of the best tunes I have heard.

Lyrics

Frank Quinn sings The Tan Yard Side

I am a rambling hero,
By love I am ensnared.
Near to the town of Ballina
There dwelt a comely maid.
She’s fairer than Diana bright;
She’s sweet and [free from?] earthly pride.
She’s a lovely maid in her dwelling place
Down by the tan yard side.

Her golden hair in ringlets rare
Hang o’er her snowy neck,
The killing glances of her eyes
Would save a ship from wreck.
Her two brown sparkling eyes
And her feet like ivory white
Would make a man become her slave
Down by the tan yard side.

For twelve long months we courted till
At length we did agree
For to acquaint her parents
And married we would be.
Then at length her cruel father
To me he proved unkind,
Which makes me sail across the foam
And leave my true love behind.

“Farewell, my aged parents
And to you I bid adieu.
I'm crossing the main ocean, dear,
All for the sake of you,
But if ever I return again, sure,
I'll make that girl my bride,
And I’d roll her in my arms
Down by the tan yard side.”

Sang Larner sings The Tanyard Side

Oh, I am a rambling hero,
My life have been ensnared,
‘Twas in the town of Boltenblass(?)
There lived a maiden fair.
She was fairer than Diana, bright,
And she’s free from earthly pride,
And she labour daily for her bread
Down by the tanyard side.

Now her hair it hung in ringlets,
Down her snowy neck.
Her two brown dazzling eyes
They made her come a wreck.
Her teeth they were of ivy white,
And she’s free from earthly pride,
And she’ll make a man become her slave
Down by the tanyard side.

Now, six long months we courted,
‘Til at length we did agree,
To acquaint our parents
And then we’d married be.
It was then her cruel father,
Did prove to me unkind,
And it made me sail across the sea
To leave my love behind.

“Farewell, my aged parents,
To you I bid adieu.
I am crossing the wide ocean
All for the sake of you.
And if ever I return again,
That girl I’ll make my bride,
And I’ll roll her in my arms all night
Down by the tanyard side.”

Tom and Chris Willett sing The Tanyard Side

I stood at every station in a place you know fair well.
It was near the town called Brighton’s land
There does live a fair young maid.
Then she’s nigher and Diana bright,
She is free from loftly pride.
She’s an only maid, she dwells in place
Down by the tanyard side.

For six long months I courted her,
And her parents they knew none.
‘Til at length her cruel old father,
Oh, to me did prove unkind,
Which makes me sail across the sea
And leave my love behind.

Now, adieu to all requitings
And tell ‘em your disgrace.
Now I’m crossing the briny ocean,
Oh, just for the sake of you,
But if ever I should return again,
Oh, that girl I’d make my bride.
I’d roll her in my arms, my love,
Down by the tanyard side.

Now, her hair it hung in ringlets
Hung over her snowy brow,
And the clearest glance of his eyes did shine,
Oh, would save a ship from wreck,
But if ever I should return again,
Oh, that girl I’d make my bride.
I would roll her in my arms, my love,
Down by the tanyard side

Phoebe Smith sings The Tan Yard Side

I thought she was an angel bright
Come tripping down so low,
A-saying, “Kind sir. I'm a country girl,”
And so modest to me she 'plied,
“And I daily labour for my bread
Down by the tan yard side.”

She's the neatest little country girl
That my two eyes had seen,
She would make a man a bonny bride
Down by the tan yard side.

So red and rosy were her cheeks
And coal black was her hair,
And her two pretty eyes like diamonds shine
As they rolled in her head.

It were twelve long months since I met her
So early in the spring,
When the small birds they did whistle
And the nightingale they sang.

And if ever I do return again
She is the girl I’ll make my bride,
And I shall roll her in my own arm
Down by the tan yard side.