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The Irish Boy / Bonny Irish Boy

[ Roud 5684 ; Ballad Index Pea560 ; trad.]

Shirley Collins recorded The Irish Boy in a two-day session in London in 1958 for her 1960 LP False True Lovers. She and Alan Lomax commented in the album’s notes:

Though we have found nothing quite like it in print, this song is clearly a fragment of one of the many ballads of Irish immigration so common in the 19th century. The tune resembles Margaret Barry’s Mantle So Green, but the song is a folk creation by Shirley Collins.

Eddie Butcher of Magilligan, Co. Derry, sang The Bonny Irish Boy in September 1970 to Hugh Shields. This recording was included on the 3 CD set that accompanied Shields’ 2011 book on Eddie Butcher, All the Days of His Life.


Shirley Collins sings The Irish Boy

His name I love to mention, in Ireland he was born,
I once loved him dearly, but alas now he’s gone;
Still in all my dear dreaming there’s none I can find,
For I still love my true love who should have been mine.

He went to America, he sailed on the sea,
And the face of my true love I can no more see.
Still in all my dear dreaming there’s none I can find,
For I should have been married to the man who was mine.