Back to Moorlough Mary
MOORLOUGH MARY. Irish, Air (6/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. The district of Moorlough lies in the mountainous region near Strabane, between Derry and Donemana. Séan Ó Boyle remarks that the words to the song [Roud 2742; Ballad Index HHH173] were written by the poet James Devine of Moorlough in honor of a local girl, with whom local tradition has it that he remained in love with until they were very old, but never married. John Doherty told Ó Boyle how he learned the song:
Well it happened to be I was comin' down through a place called Meenaleenaghan, about within ten miles of Glenties, and I heard a young country girl bringing home the cows in the evening and whe was singin', and the air of the song caught my ear and I listened. I waited until the girl came to the road with the cows and says I 'Miss, that's a beautiful air'. 'Och indeed', she says 'it's not bad. It's one of my mammy's.' 'I might try to learn that song from you if I can' says I and she says 'Any time you'd be up raking about the house you can take the fiddle and get the air,' and that's just how I got it.
The words to the song begin:
The first time I saw young Moorlough Mary
'Twas at the market of sweet Strabane.
Her smiling countenance was so engaging,
The hearts of young men she did trepan.
Her killing glances bereaved my senses
Of peace and comfort both night and day.
In my silent slumber I start with wonder,
O, Moorlough Mary, won't you come away?
Source for notated version: fiddler John Doherty (County Donegal) [Ó Boyle].
Printed sources: Ó Boyle (The Irish Song Tradition), 1976; p. 74.
Recorded sources: Topic Records, Peta Webb - "I Have Wandered in Exile" (1973).