“Farewell Ballymoney (Loving Hannah; Lovely Molly)”


"Oh, meeting is a pleasure between my love and I; I'll go down to yon low valley to meet her by and by...." The young (man) watches his love turn away from him. He laments her infidelity. (He departs from the town and goes to America)


The setting of this song varies widely. One stanza, however, is fairly characteristic:

I went to church last Sunday, (this line may vary)

My true love passed me by;

I could see her mind was a-changing

By the rolling of her eye.

Unfortunately, this stanza also shows up in some versions of "The Irish Girl"; these two songs seem to have mixed badly

I believe the old-time country song "Handsome Molly" to be a form of this piece (and most experts agree), but it has achieved such a degree of independent circulation that it is listed in the Index as a separate song. - RBW

I think I should make clear that although I think "Handsome Molly" is indeed derived, vaguely, from "Farewell Ballymoney," it has acquired so many extraneous verses that *don't* duplicate "Farewell B." verses that they've crowded all the originals out except "Went to Church Last Sunday," which I think constitutes speciation, although only just.

Oh, and I've had a communication from Sandy Paton about a talk he had with Jeannie Robertson. Virtually all the versions of the song that are called "Loving Hannah," including the excellent recent one by revival singer Bill Jones, are derived from Robertson's version, and hers came from... Jean Ritchie, when she was over in Britain on a Fulbright, collecting songs that were related to her family's songs. So if it's from Britain, and called "Loving Hannah," it's "really" from Kentucky.

No wonder folklorists drink. - PJS

And just in case that isn't bad enough, it took off in another direction in Ireland. Donagh MacDonagh took the first two lines ("Going to Mass last Sunday my true love passed me by, I knew her mind was altered by the rolling of her eye") and the Lowlands of Holland tune and produced a poem about what the singer actually felt during the mass as he hoped he changed her mind; this adaption can be found in Donagh MacDonagh and Lennox Robinson, _The Oxford Book of Irish Verse_ (Oxford, 1958, 1979), pp. 261, under the title "Going to Mass Last Sunday." - RBW

The version on IRRCinnamond02 is the first two verses of GreigDuncan6 1192, "I'll Gang Doon Tae Yonder Valley," though Cinnamond's soldier is false-hearted rather than faint-hearted. - BS

Cross references


  • Margaret Barry, "Going to Mass on Sunday" (fragment) (on IRMBarry-Fairs)
  • Robert Cinnamond, "Going to Church Last Sunday" (on IRRCinnamond02) (fragment; two verses)
  • Jean Ritche, "Lovin' Hannah" (fragment) (on IRMBarry-Fairs)


  1. Randolph 749, "Black-Eyed Mary" (1 text plus an excerpt, 2 tunes)
  2. BrownII 82, "The Lover's Lament" (4 texts plus a fragment, "E," that is probably "Handsome Molly")
  3. Dean, pp. 111-112, "Down In Yonder Valley" (1 text)
  4. Meredith/Anderson, p. 172, "Lovely Molly" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Sharp/Karpeles-80E 44, "The Irish Girl" (1 text, 1 tune, a confused and conflate mix of this song and "The Irish Girl")
  6. Cambiaire, p. 38, "Sweet Willie" (1 text, six verses derived from at least two and probably three or four songs; the largest portion is "On Top of Old Smokey" but there is a bit of "Farewell Ballymoney (Loving Hannah; Lovely Molly)" and something from one of amorphous the "courting is a pleasure" group)
  7. Ritchie-Southern, pp. 95-96, "Loving Hannah" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. SHenry H625, pp. 342-343, "Dark-Eyed Molly"; H615, p. 343, "Farewell Ballymoney" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  9. Peacock, pp. 465-466, "In Courtship There Lies Pleasure" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. Creighton-Maritime, p. 71, "Courting Is a Pleasure" (1 text, 1 tune)
  11. Kennedy 155, "Going to Mass Last Sunday" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. McBride 37, "Going to Mass Last Sunday" (1 text, 1 tune)
  13. MacSeegTrav 63, "I Went to Mass on Sunday" (1 text, 1 tune)
  14. Lomax-FSNA 103, "Loving Hannah" (1 text, 1 tune)
  16. Roud #454
  17. BI, R749


Alternate titles: “Courting is a Pleasure”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1909 (Joyce)
Found in: Ireland Australia US(Ap,MW,SE,So) Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(England(Lond))