“If I Were a Fisher”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1932 (Creighton-NovaScotia)
Keywords: love courting rejection flowers bird floatingverses
Found in: Ireland Canada(Mar)


Composite of floating material: The singer goes to the garden to pick flowers. He wishes he were a fisher, to catch Molly, a salmon; he wishes he were a scholar. He would build Molly a castle. But he lost her by courting too slow


Another composite of floating verses; see the cross-references. Sam Henry's earlier text, "The Star of Benbradden," starts with an original verse, but the rest is the same as "If I Were a Fisher." Since they're both composites, I decided to lump them -- and use the "If I Were a Fisher" name as more memorable.

I tossed Betty Garland's "Lovely Nancy" here on the same principle; it's massively composite, in the "Pretty Saro/If I Were a Fisher" mold.

Creighton's single stanza is really just a floating verse, but it's a floating verse often found with this song; this is as good a home for it as any. - RBW

Cross references



  1. SHenry H709, p. 348, "If I Were a Fisher"; H24a, pp. 248-349, "The Star of Benbradden" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  2. Creighton-NovaScotia 46, "Pretty Polly" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
  3. Roud #6873
  4. BI, HHH709