I came across several versions of this in 'Bodleian Ballads' when I was looking for something else
and, since I know a little of the area, I was intrigued enough to try to work out where and what the author was talking about. If anyone who is more familiar with the area concerned has
any comments or corrections I would be happy to receive them. I have collated several texts
to make what seems to me a reasonably good version.
The texts can be found under 'Farewell to the river Bann', 'Farewell unto the river Bann' or
'Farewell to Ireland'.
Commins's* Farewell to Ireland
Farewell to the river Bann,
The place of my nativity,
And all along the pleasant strand,
The shores of Paddy's country,
Some youthful pleasures I embraced,
Some happy seasons I have seen,
Adieu you bonny Irish braes,
I'll mind thee oft, tho' far awa'.
I do protest within my breast,
Your memory I'll not neglect,
And when I am in foreign lands,
I'll think you worthy of respect,
When I am cheering at my quart,
And none but strangers round me are;
I'll think upon my own sweetheart,
When I am boozing far awa'.
The silver glances of the moon,
They often times conducted me,
Through paths of midnight gloom,
Pale Cynthia oft escorted me,
These happy scenes are now declined,
You witching shades I bid adieu,
Your memory in my heart shall rest,
Dear friends when I am far from you.
Dunbo (1) it is a bonny place,
Down by the handsome Castle shore,(2)
Adieu ! you bonny Irish braes,
I'll never, never see you more,
When walking round the Temple Green, (3)
Where monthly you assemble a', (3a)
Far, far beyond the foaming main,
I'm at devotion far awa'.
Some pleasant evenings I have spent,
About young? bonny Stand Alade, (4)
To dance one summer's night we went,
To crown our joys in Altribrian, (5)
But now these pleasures are declined,
My blessings may attend you a',
But fairy schools I'll never mind,
When I am dancing far awa'.
Our ship it is in readiness,
My loving friends I'll bid good-bye,
I'll give you a long parting kiss,
And thank you for a last convoy,
I turned around with heart felt sighs,
My loving friends i could see no more,
With melting heart and brimful eye,
I parted from the Irish shore.
You lonesome mountains of Dunbo,
No more about I'll remain,
No more I'll hear that daring foe
Bold Tippoo,(6) or his warlike train;
For now I'm dead and in my grave,
And none but strangers round me a',
Far, far, beyond the briny wave,
My bones lie rotting far awa'.
* 'Commins'; This is the only Commins that I could find in Irish songwriting, however, if the dates given by Bodleian are correct he was too young, and he had no obvious connection to N. Derry.
(Notes from O'Donoghue's 'Poets of Ireland'); COMMINS, ANDREW, LL.D.,M.P. —A frequent contributor of poetry to the Nation and United Irishman (of Liverpool) over signatures of " A.C.," "John Dame, jun.," " Phelim O'Toole," and " The Gael," during the last decade or two. His early pieces appeared in the Cariow Magazine while he was a student of Carlow College. Born in Ballybeg, Co. Carlow, in 1832, was educated at Carlow College, Queen's College, Cork, and London University, at the last place winning the Lord Chancellor's prize for best poem on " The Progress of Natural Science in the Nineteenth Century." A lawyer, and M.P for South Roscommon. Lives in Liverpool.
(1) 'Dunbo'; all versions of the ballad that I have seen refer to 'Drumbo', however, this must be
a mistake, since the rest of the internal evidence suggests that it can only be Dunbo Parish in
the north of Co. Derry.
(2) 'Castle shore'; presumably the shore at Castlerock.
(3) 'Temple Green'; Mussenden Temple (Notes from Ordnance Survey Memoirs)
The temple was built by Lord Bristol, Anglican Bishop of Derry in 1788; about 48 years since,
the bishop gave the lower part of the temple to the Roman Catholics for a chapel, as many of the servants at Downhill at that time were Roman Catholics and also gave one guinea per month to the priest, which sum ceased at the death of the bishop. This is the only Roman Catholic chapel in the parish of Dunboe.
(3a) 'Where monthly'; Formerly mass was held only once a month, now every second Sunday.
(4) 'Stand Alade'; I can make no sense of this whatsoever, some versions have 'standaline',
which is no more understandable.
(5) 'Altribrian'; according to the Ordnance Survey, a townland between Dunbo and Magilligan.
(6) 'Tippoo Sahib'; 1749–99, Indian ruler, sultan of Mysore (1782–99); son and successor of Haidar Ali. He fought in his father's campaigns against the Marathas and the British but, after his succession, made peace with the British in 1784. His invasion (1789) of Travancore, a state under British protection, provoked war anew, and in 1792 he was defeated by a force under Lord Cornwallis composed of British, Maratha, and Hyderabad troops. He was forced to cede territory. In 1798, Tippoo formed a vague alliance with the French, which gave the British governor-general Lord Wellesley a pretext to invade Mysore in alliance with the nizam of Hyderabad. Tippoo was killed (May, 1799) defending his capital at Shrirangapattana. His kingdom was divided among the victors.