This song seems to have originated in the mid-nineteenth century, and is most likely a merging of a couple of different songs and may or may not have ties to yet another in Irish. The Irish version is about a bawdy gentleman, whereas the English version is one of many nostalgic songs. Carrickfergus is a town in Antrim, Northern Ireland. Here’s yet another amazing performance from Transatlantic Sessions – Series 4: Volume 3 featuring Allison Moorer.
I wish I was in Carrickfergus, only for nights in Ballygrand.
I would swim over the deepest ocean, the deepest ocean for my love to find,
But the sea is wide and I cannot swim over and neither have I wings to fly.
If I could find me a handsome boatman to ferry me over to my love and I.
My childhood days bring back sad reflections of happy times I spent so long ago.
My boyhood friends and my own relations have all passed on now like melting snow,
But I’ll spend my days in endless roaming; soft is the grass, my bed is free.
Ah, to be back in Carrickfergus on that long road down to the sea!
And in Kilkenny it is reported there are marble stones as black as ink.
With gold and silver I would support her, but I’ll sing no more now till I get a drink.
I’m drunk today and I’m seldom sober, a handsome rover from town to town.
Ah, but I’m sick now, my days are numbered, so come all ye young men and lay me down.