> Folk Music > Songs > The Lovely Banks of Lea

The Lovely Banks of Lea / When Two Lovers Meet

[ Roud 9493 , 6857 ; Ballad Index DTbnksle ; trad.]

Peta Webb sang The Lovely Banks of Lea at The Down River Folk Club, King William IV, Walthamstow on December 19, 1972 at Oak's final gig. This recording was included in 2003 on Oak's Musical Traditions anthology Country Songs and Music. She also recorded this song in 1973 for her Topic album I Have Wandered in Exile. Rod Stradling commented in the Oak's CD's booklet:

The only example of this song in Roud is Peter Kennedy's 1952 BBC recording from Mary Connors, of Belfast, and this is where Peta learned it. The song is also given as Roud 6857 (When True Lovers Meet) and was sung by Joe Heaney, Angela Mulkere, Sheila Stewart and others. It is now a well-known-to-hackneyed song in Ireland, but Peta sticks to Mary Connors' enjoyably idiosyncratic version.

and A.L. Lloyd commented in the sleeve notes of Peta Webb's album:

Yet another song on the favourite theme of exile and separation, a song of regret decorated with conventional flowers like a Victorian memorial card. The tune, a subtle one with a ‘dorian’ feel to it, is close to the melody used in England (and Ireland?) for Gathering Rushes in the Month of May (or Underneath Your Apron).

Mary Connors' 1952 BBC recording of The Lovely Banks of Lea was finally included in 2014 on the Topic anthology The Flax in Bloom (The Voice of the People Volume 27).

Francie Scott sang The Banks of the Lee in Eugene Smith’s bar, Maguiresbridge, in August 1977. This recording made by Keith Summers was included in 2014 on the Musical Traditions anthology of traditional songs from around Lough Erne's shore, I Pray You Pay Attention. Rod Stradling commented in the accompanying booklet:

Although it is well known, Roud has but 8 references to this song, but they include many ‘big names’: Elizabeth Cronin, Joe Heaney, Sheila Stewart, Mary Connors, Dolly McMahon, and a sound recording collected in 1973 from Mary Cash in London by Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie.

Pat Ryan sang Banks of the Lee in 1983 on her Traditional Sound Recordings album Moving On.

Sheila Stewart sang The Banks of the Lee on her family's 1985 Lismor album, The Stewarts of Blair.

Silly Wizard sang The Banks of the Lee in 1988 at Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. This concert recording was published on their Green Linnet album Live Wizardry.

Sarah McQuaid sang When Two Lovers Meet in 1997 as the title track of her first CD, When Two Lovers Meet. She commented in her liner notes:

Also known as The Banks of the Lee, but as there's a totally different song called The Banks of the Lee I prefer to call it by the first line. I learned this song from Nora Butler when I was living in Nenagh. Nora has a great stock of songs and was tremendously obliging about hunting up obscure lyrics for me. I have immense respect for her as a singer and as one of the most generous, giving individuals I've ever run across.

Emily Spiers sang The Banks of the Lee in 2010 on her CD The Half-Moon Lovers.

Lyrics

Peta Webb sings The Lovely Banks of Lea

And it's what will you do, me love, when I am on the ocean?
What will you do, me love, when I am far away?
For I'll think of you all the while, you're me Irish girl, I love you.
I will pray to the stars to guide you on the lovely banks of Lea.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Every branch, every bower, every rosie and may flower,
Reminds me of my darling on the lovely banks of Lea.

Oh, don't you remember that evening where I met you?
I'd kiss you and I'd court you and dandle you on me knee.
I own to God above, you're me Irish girl, I love you.
There is nothing in this wide, wide world I would rather have than you.

Don't stay out so late on the moorlands, my darling.
Don't stay out so late on the moorlands for me.
But little was the notion I'd part from you forever,
Never more to meet you on the lovely banks of Lea.

I wrote me love a letter with roses in the bottom,
I wrote me love a letter but no answer to it came.
Ah, for you my heart is breaking, my Irish girl I love you.
There is nothing under the heavens I could love as well as you.

Oh get for me some roses, some blooming Irish roses,
Get for me some roses of the finest ever grew.
I'll sow them on the heather for my fond Irish girl
Who now lies in the churchyard on the lovely banks of Lea.

Francie Scott sings The Banks of the Lea

When two lovers meet down beside yon clear fountain,
When two lovers meet down beneath yon blue sea.
And Mary, fond Mary, declared to her lover:
“You have stolen my poor heart on the Banks of the Lee.”

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
For I loved her very dearly, so true and sincerely,
There's no one in this wide world I love more than she.
Every bush, every bower, every sweet Irish flower
Reminds me of my Mary, on the banks of the Lee.

“Don't stay out late tonight love on the moorlands, my Mary,
Don't stay out out late tonight love on the moorlands for me.”
For I had no notion when crossing o'er the ocean
We'd be parted forever on the Banks of the Lee.

Sure I'll pluck my love some roses, some blooming Irish roses,
I'll pluck my love some roses, the fairest ever grew.
And I'll place them on the graveside of my fond and loving Mary
For in that cold and silent churchyard she sleeps 'neath the dew.

Pat Ryan sings Banks of the Lee

Where twa lovers meet down beside the green bushes,
Where twa lovers meet down beside the clear stream,
There Mary, fond Mary, declared unto her lover:
“You have stolen my heart on the banks of the Lea.”

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Every rose, every bower, every wild Irish flower
Reminds me of my true love on the banks of the Lea.

Don’t stray too late on the highlands, my Mary,
Don’t stray too late on the highlands from me,
But little was our notion on that evening when we parted
We were parting forever on the banks of the Lea.

I plucked for her some roses, some blooming Irish roses,
I plucked for her some roses, down by a clear stream.
Then I laid them on the grave of my own darling Mary,
In that cold and silent churchyard where she sleeps beneath the stone.

I loved her dearly, both truly and sincerely
There’s no one in this wide world I love better than she
But little was our notion on that evening when we parted
We were parting forever on the banks of the Lea.

Sheila Stewart sings The Banks of the Lee

When two lovers meet down beneath the green bower,
When two lovers meet down beneath the green tree,
There Mary, lovely Mary, exclaimed unto her darling:
“You have stolen my poor heart on the banks of the Lee.”

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Every bush and every bower, every wild Irish flower
Will remind me of my Mary on the banks of the Lee.

Never go out too late on the moorlands, my Mary,
Never go out too late on the moorlands from me
But little was our notion as we plighted on the ocean
We were parting forever on the banks of the Lee.

I will pluck for her some roses, some wild Irish roses,
I will pluck for her some roses, the finest ever grew.
And I’ll place them on the grave of my true lover Mary,
In that little silent churchyard where she sleeps ’neath the dew.

Sarah McQuaid sings When Two Lovers Meet

When two lovers meet down beneath the green bower,
When two lovers meet down beneath the green tree,
When Mary, fond Mary, did say unto her lover:
“You have stolen my fond heart by the banks of the Lee.”

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
For I loved her very dearly, so true and sincerely,
There is no one in this wide world I loved more than she.
Every bush and every bower, every tree and every flower
Reminds me of my Mary on the banks of the Lee.

Don’t stay out late tonight on the moorlands, my Mary,
Don’t stay out late tonight on the moorlands from me.
For it’s little was our notion when we sailed upon the ocean
That forever we’d be parted from the banks of the Lee.

I will pluck my love some roses, some blooming Irish roses,
I will pluck my love some roses, the finest ever grew.
And I’ll place them on the grave of my own true loving Mary,
In the cold and silent churchyard where she sleeps ’neath the dew.