“The Maid of Sweet Gurteen”


The singer tells the praises of the beautiful Maid of Gorteen. His father opposes the match; she is only a serving girl. The father locks her up; when the singer still professes his love, he has the girl sent away. The ending is confused

Supplemental text

Maid of Sweet Gurteen, The
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

The Maid of Sweet Gartheen

From Kenneth Peacock, Songs of the Newfoundland Outports, Volume II,
pp. 375-376. Sung by Mary Ann Galpin, Codroy, July 1960.

Come all you gentle muses I pray now lend an ear
While I relate the praises of a comelye maiden fair,
'Twas her cherry cheeks and her ruby lips that stole away my heart,
And death I'm sure will be the cure if my love and I must part.

The praises of that fair one I intend for to unfold,
Her hair hung down in ringlets like links of shining gold,
'Twas the curling of her yellow locks that fractured quite my brain,
And there is a road lies near her abode to the town of sweet Gartheen.

(6 additional stanzas)


Child would have liked this; the plot is "The Suffolk Miracle" ("The Holland Handkerchief"), minus that ghost he so despised. It's not clear how this song is supposed to end; the Sam Henry texts gives hints that the lovers would reunite, but they never do.

Peacock's version has a clear stopping point ("So now my song is ended"), but again, no resolution; it leaves the singer wandering, seemingly between England and Ireland, still coming back to where he found her. Similarly Manny/Wilson, save that he is in Florida. - RBW

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Harding B 11(2292), "Maid of Sweet Gortein," H. Such (London), 1849-1862; also 2806 b.11(146), "Maid of Sweet Gortein"; 2806 b.11(271), Harding B 11(2721), "The Maid of Sweet Gorteen"; 2806 c.8(263), Harding B 11(2290), Harding B 11(2291), 2806 c.15(200)[many illegible words], 2806 b.9(277), 2806 b.9(234), Harding B 19(39), "The Maid of Sweet Gurteen"


  1. SHenry H594, p. 430, "The Maid of Sweet Gorteen" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. OLochlainn 22, "The Maid of Sweet Gurteen" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Peacock, pp. 375-376, "The Maid of Sweet Gartheen" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Manny/Wilson 85, "The Maid of Sweet Gartine" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. O'Conor, p. 31, "The Maid of Sweet Gorteen" (1 text)
  6. ST HHH594 (Partial)
  7. Roud #3025
  8. BI, HHH594


Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1863 (broadside, Harding B 11(2292))
Found in: Ireland Canada(Mar,Newf)