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Latest revision as of 14:10, 18 February 2021

A folk song of Belfast, County Antrim, Ireland. This song's oldest written record only dates to 1952 and is attributed to a performance by Mary Doran (possibly Mary Connors, though the Connors Name is a more dubious attribution) for a BBC recording - though no readily accessible version of the recording seems to exist online.

The song is told from the perspective of someone who has been separated from their love by exile across the ocean, and then by her death. It shares a tune with a traditional folk song of the british isles: Gathering Rushes in the Month of May (sometimes called Underneath Your Apron).

Of note is the fact that the song shares a title - though not a theme - with another song. The Banks of the Lea tells a story of a Irish man who travels to England, finds love, and wishes to take her home.

The lyrics sung by the Longest Johns on their live streams appear to be assembled from an assortment of traditional versions, mixed, matched, and edited. Though wholly a speculative statement: it is likely that the particular arrangement was done by the Longest Johns. Andy generally leads this piece.

Lyrics

These lyrics are based on the version sung by the Longest Johns in their August 2019 Livestream.

When two lovers meet down beside the green bower
When two lovers meet down beneath the green tree
When Mary, fond Mary, declared unto her lover
"You have stolen my poor heart from the Banks of the Lee"

{Chorus}
I loved her very dearly, so truly and sincerely
There was no one in this wide world I loved better than she
Every bush and every bower, every wild Irish flower
Reminds me of my Mary, on the banks of the Lee

"Well don't stay out late, love, on the moorlands, my Mary
Well don't stay out late, love, on the moorlands from me"
How little was our notion when we parted on the ocean
That we were forever parted from the Banks of the Lee

{Chorus}

I will pluck my love some roses, some blooming Irish roses
I will pluck my love some roses, the fairest that ever grew
And I'll lay them on the grave of my own true lovely Mary
In that cold and silent church yard where she sleeps 'neath the dew

{Chorus til end}