This song was first published in 1889 in a books of poems by W. B. Yeats, The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems. Yeats notes that the poem was "an attempt to reconstruct an old song from three lines imperfectly remembered by an old peasant woman in the village of Ballysodare, Sligo, who often sings them to herself."
In 1909 Herbert Hughes set the words to the tune of The Maids of the Mourne Shore.
The song is also known as The Maids of Mourne Shore or The Mourne Shore. There is an Irish version called Gort na Saileán or An Traigh Mughdhorna. Salley is an anglicisation of the Irish saileach, which means willow, from the Latin Salix. Willows are known as "salleys", "sallies" or "salley trees" in parts of Ireland.
Down by the Salley Gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the Salley Gardens
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.
In a field by the river
my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
and now am full of tears.
I first learnt to play this song on the tin whistle, then on the guitar, then I learnt the words.
You can hear this song on the following albums:
Video of Maura O'Connell and Karen Matheson singing this song
Information about this song