Two of my favorite singers, Christy Moore and Sinead O’Connor, sing this song by Ewan MacColl. There seems to be difference of opinion on the origin of the song, but the majority point to the song being written for an experimental production by the Critics Group, based on Romeo and Juliet, which was broadcast by the BBC to schools in May 1966. Moore sang it first on the first Planxty album, which was released in 1973.
Sweet Thames Flow Softly
I met my girl at Woolwich Pier beneath a big crane standing
And oh, the love I felt for her it passed all understanding
Took her sailing on the river, flow, sweet river, flow
London town was mine to give her, sweet Thames, flow softly
Made the Thames into a crown, flow, sweet river, flow
Made a brooch of Silvertown, sweet Thames, flow softly
At London Yard I held her hand at Blackwall Point I faced her
At the Isle of Dogs I kissed her mouth and tenderly embraced her
Heard the bells of Greenwich ringing, flow, sweet river, flow
All the time my heart was singing, sweet Thames, flow softly
Limehouse Reach I gave her there, flow, sweet river, flow
As a ribbon for her hair, sweet Thames, flow softly
As Christy Moore explains in the opening of the video, this version of As I Roved Out comes from the singing one of the last of the traveling singers, John Reilly.
And who are you, me pretty fair maid
And who are you, me honey? (repeat)
She answered me quite modestly, “I am me mother’s darling.”
With me too-ry-ay
And will you come to me mother’s house,
When the sun is shining clearly ( repeat )
I’ll open the door and I’ll let you in
And divil ‘o one would hear us.
So I went to her house in the middle of the night
When the moon was shining clearly ( repeat )
Shc opened the door and she let me in
And divil the one did hear us.
A great live performance of this classical made famous by Plantxty. A little background acording to WikiPedia:
The late Liam Buckley who was born in the cottage immediately adjacent to the Cliffs of Dooneen has stated the poem was penned by Jack McAuliffe who had travelled from Lixnaw to Beale to visit his sister. Jack had spent time with locals in the fields above and shore below the cliffs. He then visited Bill and Nell Buckley’s cottage, known as “99” a few hundred metres away – for tea and scones. Liam was told by his mother (Jack’s host) that the poem was written at the kitchen window of the cottage. Liam says the poem was put to music years later by a local musician. Liam did not know the date the poem was written but he remembers it from the 1930s.
Cliffs of Dooneen
You may travel far far from your own native home
Far away oer the mountains far away oer the foam
But of all the fine places that I’ve ever seen,
There’s none to compare with The Cliffs of Dooneen
Take a view oer the water fine sights you’ll see there
You’ll see the high rocky slopes on the West coast of Clare
The towns of Kilrush and Kilkee can be seen
From the high rocky slopes at The Cliffs of Dooneen