“Down By Blackwaterside”


Girl lies with a man, who dresses and prepares to leave her. She reproaches him, saying "That's not the promise you gave to me." She tells him she's the most loyal girl in the world, but now she'll marry him only "when fishes fly and the seas run dry"


The voice keeps changing, from a bystander to the woman to (possibly) the man. This song should not be confused with "The Black Water Side" (Laws O1). - PJS

Roud in fact lumps this with Laws P18, "Pretty Little Miss." But that entry is one of his mass lumps, of many songs about untrue lovers. While there is much sharing between songs of this type, it seems better to split them.

Kennedy lumps this with "The Lovely Irish Maid," and I have to admit that there are strong points of contact, both lyric and in plot. This song, however, appears to take a slightly different direction, so I have, with much hesitation, split them. - RBW

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Harding B 28(122), "Distress'd Maid" ("As I walk'd out one May morning"), W. Wright (Birmingham), 1831-1837; also Harding B 11(904), Harding B 28(123), "Distress'd Maid"


  • Anne Briggs, "Blackwater Side" (on Briggs2, Briggs3)
  • Liam Clancy, "Blackwater Side" (on IRLClancy01)
  • Paddy Tunney, "Blackwaterside" (on Voice10)


  1. Kennedy 151, "Down By Blackwaterside" (1 text, 1 tune plus another text in the notes)
  2. Tunney-StoneFiddle, pp. 108-109, "Blackwater Side" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Karpeles-Newfoundland 65, "Down by a Riverside" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Manny/Wilson 57, "As I Strolled Out One Evening" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. DT 468, BLKWTRSD*
  6. Roud #564
  7. BI, K151


Alternate titles: “Blackwaterside”; “Black Water Side”; “I Am Too Young”; “The Squire and the Fair Maid”; “The Distress'd Maid”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1803 (Johnson)
Keywords: sex promise abandonment
Found in: Ireland Britain(England(South)) US(MA,SE) Canada(Newf)