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Silver Dagger, Turtle Dove

[Freddy McKay]

Ken Hall sang Silver Dagger, Turtle Dove in 2000 on his and Peta Webb’s Fellside CD of songs and duets from English, Irish and American traditions, As Close As Can Be. He noted:

I first met Belfast’s Freddy McKay at the Islington Folk Club in the late 1970s where he was one of a whole bunch of marvellous performers. Freddy was a great raconteur with a natural comic talent and love of the ridiculous. The affection that he attracted from all who met him was testimony to a “great fellah”. Freddy encouraged me to learn some of his songs and I was greatly attracted to his comic parody Silver Dagger, Turtle Dove.


Ken Hall sings Silver Dagger, Turtle Dove

In Liverpool town where I did dwell,
There was a maid I loved right well,
But I loved a lot of others too,
And to this maid I proved untrue.

Chorus (after each verse):
With me ding dong derroll silver dagger,
Ding dong derroll turtle dove.

She went to the kitchen to bake a bread,
And into the oven she stuck her head.
But when she was nearly dead, alas,
There was no more money for the bloody gas.

She went upstairs to get a rope,
She says, “It is myself I’ll choke.”
She climbed unto a rocking chair
And flung herself into the air.

Her father’s knife soon cut her down
And in her pocket this note he found:
“Half a dozen eggs and a slice of ham,
A loaf of bread and a pot of jam.”

In cutting her down, the rope did broke,
And she fell on top of the undertaker bloke.
She broke his neck and ruined his charms
And they both lay dead in each other’s arms.

Her mother cried, as mothers can,
“At last my daughter’s got a man!
And we’ll all think we died for love,
And we’ll all send for a turtle dove.”

But turtle doves are scarce and few,
A budgerigar will have to do.
A marble crosses can’t be got,
So we’ll make one out of an orange box.

They were buried now, and strange but true,
Out of the graves to strange plants grew.
And out of his grew a rose so fine,
And out of hers grew a dandelion.

They grew and they grew, up to the sky,
No finer plants ever grew so high.
And but for fate they’d be growing yet
but the dandelion choke the rose to death.