There’s a bit of a debate among singers and song collectors as to the origin of this song and whether or not Craigie Hill(s) is an actually location or just a generic name, although many agree it is an Ulster song. And there is some agreement that the song was brought to the public’s attention through the singing of the great Paddy Tunney, who got the song off his mother. Here’s a version from the great Dolores Keane.
It being in spring and the small birds they were singing
Down by a shady arbour I carelessly did stray
Where the thrushes they were warbling
The violets they were charming
For to view two lovers talking a while I did delay
She said, “My dear, don’t leave me all for another season
Though fortune may be pleasing I’ll go along with you
I’ll give up friends and relations and quit this Irish nation
And to the bonnie Bann banks forever I’ll bid adieu”
He said, “My dear, don’t grieve me or yet annoy my patience
You know I love you dearly although I’m going away
I’m going to some foreign nation to purchase a plantation
For to comfort us hereafter all in America.