“The Streams of Bunclody”


"Was I at the moss-house where the birds do increase" he'd have a kiss from his sweetheart. "The cuckoo is a pretty bird ..." Various if ... then verses. She shuns him. She is rich. He is poor. He is "going to America, my fortune to try."


See H. Halliday Sparling, _Irish Minstrelsy_, 1888, pp. 224-225, 515. The description follows Sparling who notes, "From a Dublin ballad-slip of very uncertain date, but certainly before 1850." Floating verses include "The cuckoo is a pretty bird ...."; "If I was a clerk and could write a good hand ...."; "If I was a lark and had wings, I then could fly ... where my love does lie." The cuckoo verse seems uncorrupted:

The cuckoo is a pretty bird, it sings as it flies,

It brings us good tidings and tells us no lies,

It sucks the young bird's eggs to make its voice clear,

And it never cries cuckoo till the summer is near.

In spite of its title -- "The Maid of Bon Clody, and the Lad She Loves Dear" -- broadside Bodleian 2806 b.9(232) seems to follow Sparling exactly. The words I can make out in each verse are the same words that are in Sparling. But then, the same is true of OLochlainn 76: same title and same text.

Steve Gardham points out that the text of Richard Hayward's "Down in Glasloch" (78 Recording: Richard Hayward with Roy Robertson Orchestra, "Down in Glasloch" (Rex 15016B/matrix DR 11826-1, 1947)) is very similar to "The Streams of Bunclody"; the verses here seem minor modifications of the non-floating verses there and include the floating verses that do not refer to the cuckoo. The main difference is in the first verse:

From Sparling's "The Streams of Bunclody"

O was I at the moss-house where the birds do increase,

At the foot of Mount Leinster or some silent place

Near the streams of Bunclody, where all pleasures do meet,

And all I'd require is one kiss from you sweet.

For "Down in Glasloch"

Oh, were I down in Glasloch where the birds sing so blithely

I would walk there with my true love and she by my side

And in all things she might ask me I would gladly do her favor

For there's no love like my true love in all Monaghan wide.

The following comment is from John Moulden: "I rather distrust his [Hayward's] versions and suspect that the text you quote has been tinkered. In a later (10 inch LP "Words and Music of Ireland" Decca EBL522) recording of the tune alone played by Hayward on an organ, he states that he collected the song in Monaghan 'close to Sir Shane Leslie's home' wherever that may have been." John Moulden is researcher at the "Centre for the Study of Human Settlement and Historical Change" at National University of Ireland, Galway whose subject is 'the printed ballad in Ireland'"

The date of 1947 for Hayward's record is provided by Bill Dean-Myatt, MPhil. compiler of the Scottish National Discography. He also has a 1938 date for an earlier Hayward recording as "Down in Glaslough".

Help provided by Steve Gardham, John Moulden and Bill Dean-Myatt is cited here with their permission.

Glaslough is a village in Count Monaghan, Ireland, just south of Northern Ireland. Mount Leinster and the River Clody are near Bunclody, County Wexford. - BS

Cross references


  • Bodleian, 2806 b.9(206), "The Maid of Bonclody," P. Brereton (Dublin), c.1867 ; also 2806 b.9(232) [almost entirely illegible], "The Maid of Bon Clody, and the Lad She Loves Dear"


  1. OLochlainn 76, "The Maid of Bunclody, and the Lad She Loves So Dear" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Roud #3000
  3. BI, BroaTSoB


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1888 (Sparling); c.1867 (broadside, Bodleian 2806 b.9(206))
Found in: Ireland