Kellswater (Farewell to Kellswater)

Here’s a health to you, bonny Kellswater
Where you’ll get all the pleasures of life,
Where you’ll get all the fishing and fowling,
And a bonny wee lass for your wife.

Oh, it’s down where yon waters run muddy,
I’m afraid they will never run clear.
And it’s when I dig in for to study,
My mind is on them that’s not here.

It’s this one and that one they court him,
but if anyone gets him but me,
It’s early and late I will curse them
That parted lovely Willie from me.

Oh, a father he calls on his daughter,
Two choices I’ll give unto thee.
Would you rather see Willie’s ship a-sailing,
Or see him hung like a dog from yon tree?

Oh, Father, dear Father, I love him.
I can no longer hide it from thee.
Through an acre of fire I would travel
Alone with lovely Willie to be.

Oh, hard was the heart that confined her,
And took from her her heart’s delight.
May the chains of old Ireland bind around them,
And soft be their pillows at night.

Oh, yonder’s a ship on the ocean
And she does not know which way to steer.
From the east to the west she’s a-going.
She reminds me of the charms of my dear.

Oh, it’s yonder my Willie will be coming,
He said he’d be here in the spring,
And it’s down by yon green shades I’ll meet him,
And among yon wild roses we’ll sing.

For a gold ring he placed on my finger,
Saying “Love, bear this in your mind,
If ever I sail from Old Ireland,
You’ll mind I’ll not leave you behind.”

Farewell to you, bonny Kellswater
Where you’ll get all the pleasures of life,
Where you’ll get all the fishing and fowling,
And a bonny wee lass for your wife.

Traditional

“Kellswater” is also from Sam Henry’s collection, where it is listed under entry H695. In the sleeve notes

Also known as “Farewell to Kellswater”

“I learned this from the Sam Henry collection courtesy of John Moulden’s fine book SONGS OF THE PEOPLE and it appears to have come originally from one Jim Carmichael of Ballymena, Co. Antrim. The story appears to be that the girl’s father did not consider Willie to be a suitable match for his daughter and had him sent away overseas. She waits in the certain knowledge that he will return. John Moulden writes, ‘The Kellswater, a tributary of the River Main, rises as the Glenwhinny river on the west slope of Agnews hill which overlooks Larne, and then flows westward through Kells, collecting its name as it goes, and joins the Main about five miles north of Randalstown.’ Our congratulations to the hero & heroine of this song for being the sole surviving characters on this album.” – Andy Irvine

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