> Folk Music > Songs > The Banks of Inverurie

The Banks of Inverurie

[ Roud 1415 ; G/D 6:1263 ; Ballad Index FVS258 ; Bodleian Roud 1415 ; Wiltshire Roud 1415 ; trad.]

Jimmy McBeath sang The Banks of Inverurie to Peter Hall in a private house in Scotland in July 1971. This recording was included in 1978 on his Topic album Bound to Be a Row. Peter Hall commented laconically in the sleeve notes:

According to Greig this piece was common sixty years ago. It is still known but not nearly so widely.

Jock Duncan sang Banks of Inverurie on his 1996 Springthyme CD Ye Shine Whar Ye Stan!. The album's notes commented:

A lyrical love song with some of the feeling of the older ballads that Jock learned from the great Jimmy McBeath.

Jock: “I aye met in wi Jimmy—sittin at the Queen in Union Street—there wis benches there. He wis aye sittin there or near or han top o Bridge Street. He wis aye ready wi a song ye ken. It wis aboot a fortnight afore he dee’d [in 1971] that he sung it the last time tae me—in Aberdeen, in the Castlegate—a room in the Castlegate. Jimmy resided there for aboot five year.”

George Deacon sang The Banks of Inverary on his 2002 CD of songs collected and written by John Clare, Dream Not of Love.

A version of Willie Scott singing The Banks of Inverurie was included in 2006 in Alison McMorland's Scott biography Herd Laddie o' the Glen.

A live recording of Gordon Easton singing The Banks of Inverurie at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife in between 2004 and 2007 was included in 2007 on his Autumn Harvest CD The Last of the Clydesdales. The album's notes commented:

One of many songs Gordon remembers from his grandmother—a bashful singer who never sang out and about but always had songs to sing when a ceilidh was held in the house.

Iona Fyfe sang The Banks of Inverurie on her 2018 CD Away from My Window. She noted:

I first heard this song from fellow Huntly singer, Shona Donaldson, when she was a guest at Cullerlie Traditional Singing Weekend in 2016. Shona attributed it to the singing of Gordon Easton, who, at 84 years old, recorded it on his Springthyme album, The Last of the Clydesdales. It was also sung by Jock Duncan who recorded it on his 1996 album Ye Shine Whar Ye Stan!. Jock learnt it from itinerant farm worker Jimmy McBeath in 1971.

A song of rejection, The Banks of Inverurie echoes the form and structure of the American folksong, The Lakes of Pontchartrain. The definite origins of the song remain unknown, but it is thought that it originated in Scotland and was brought to America by soldiers fighting for the British army in Louisiana and Canada in 1812. It could be argued that Aberdeenshire is the source region of the localised song, by its inclusion in Greig-Duncan and the song being set on the banks of the River Ury. It is also printed in two Broadside forms: The Banks of Inverury and The Banks of Inveraray. The prints are the same, with the place name the only difference. Until half way through the 19th century, Inverurie was spelt as Inverury. One version of the broadside uses the historical spelling of Inverury, which proves that the song existed before 1866, when the town clerk made the spelling change to Inverurie official, after post (and songs) got mixed up between Inverury and Inveraray, in Argyll. The Gaelic title for Inverurie is still Inbhir Uraidh, meaning “Confluence of the Ury”.

Found in Robert Ford’s Vagabond Songs and Ballads of Scotland, John Ord's Bothy Songs and Ballads, Greig's Last Leaves, Greig-Duncan 6:1263, Roud 1415

Lyrics

Jock Duncan sings Banks of Inverurie Iona Fyfe sings The Banks of Inverurie

Ae nicht as I went a-walking and doun as I did pass,
On the banks of Inverurie I met a bonnie lass;
Her hair hung ower her shoulders broad, her eyes like stars did shine,
On the banks of Inverurie and oh gin she were mine.

One day as I went walking and doon as I did pass,
By the banks o Inverurie I spied a bonnie lass;
Her hair hung o’er her shoulders broad, an’ her eyes like diamonds shine,
On the banks of Inverurie and oh gin she were mine.

I did embrace this fair maid with all the haste I could,
Her hair hung ower her shoulders broad all in its threads of gowd;
Her hair hung ower her shoulders broad, her eyes like draps o dew,
“On the banks of Inverurie I long to walk with you.”

I did embrace that fair maid wi a’ the haste I could,
For her hair hung o‘er her shoulders broad all in its threads of gold;
Her hair hung o‘er her shoulders broad, an’ her eyes like diamonds shine,
On the banks of Inverurie and oh gin she were mine.

She said, “Young man give over and donʼt delude me so,
For after kissing wooing comes and after wooing woe;
My tender heart you will ensnare and Iʼll beguilèd be,
On the banks of Inverurie Iʼll walk alone,” said she.

Well she said, “My man give over, do not delude me so,
For aifter kissin’ wooing comes an’ aifter wooing woe;
My tender hairt ye will ensnare an’ I beguiled will be,
On the banks of Inverurie I‘ll walk alone,” said she.

Well she said, “My man, give over your company refrain,
For I know you are of gentle blood, but of a graceless clan;
I know your occupation, lad, and good it cannot be,
On the banks of Inverurie I‘ll walk alone,” says she.

He said, “My pretty fair maid, the truth Iʼll neʼer deny,
On the banks of Inverurie many maids beguiled have I;
I used to flatter fair maids but now that shall not be,
On the banks of Inverurie if you will walk with me.”

Well he said, “My pretty fair maid, the truth I‘ll ne‘er deny,
On the banks o Inverurie fair maids beguiled have I;
I used to flatter fair maids but now I’ll faithful be.
On the banks of Inverurie, if you would marry me.”

He put a horn untae his lips and he blew loud and shrill,
Till four and twenty armed men came to their masterʼs call,
“I used to flatter fair maids but now that cannot be,
On the banks of Inverurie if you will marry me.”

He’s pit a horn tae his lips an’ he blew loud and shrill,
Till four and twenty armed men came tae their master‘s call,
“I used to flatter fair maids but now I‘ll faithful be,
On the banks of Inverurie if you would marry me.”
“On the banks of Inverurie, I’ll walk alone,” said she.

“Now come my pretty fair maid and mount on horseback high,
Unto a parson we will go and that immediately,
And I will sing these lines with joy until the day I dee,
To the praise of Inverurieʼs banks where first I met with thee.”