On The Banks Of Red Roses

Traditional

Audio

This example of "On the Banks of Red Roses" is performed by Stephanie Makem of  on the 2003 EP "Dorsa", available from the Chivalry Music store
Please refer to Cantaria's Copyright information

Notes:  Stephanie learned this song from the singing of her great-grandmother, Sarah Makem, who is considered one of the great "source singers" of Ireland, having handed on hundreds of traditional songs before her death in 1983. One of the most notable Ulster ballad singers, Sarah Makem's children and grandchildren have carried her songs and the singing tradition around the world.  Tommy Makem may be the most recognized name in the family, but his brother Jack Makem was a lauded singer and composer, too. Tommy's sons perform currently as the Makem Brothers, and another of Sarah's grandsons,  Tom Sweeney, has performed for the President of the United States.  Stephanie is the newest performer from this song-rich family, and her voice echoes strongly of her great-grandmother. 

This version of the Banks of the Roses is quite different than the one popularized by The Corries and The Clancy Brothers. See the other version for comparison.

When I was a wee girl I heard my Mama say
That I was a foolish girl so easy led astray
And before I would work, well, I’d rather sport and play
With my Johnny on the banks of Red Roses

By the Banks of Red Roses my love and I sat down
And he pulled out his charm flute to play his love a tune
In the middle of the tune well the bonny lassie cried
Ara Johnny lovely Johnny would you leave me

So he took her to his cabin where he treated her to tea
Saying drink my dearest Mary and come along with me
Saying drink my dearest Mary and come along with me
To the bonny bonny banks of Red Roses

Well they walked and they talked til they came unto a cave
Where Johnny all the day had been digging up a grave 
Where Johnny all the day had been digging up a grave
For to lay his lassie low among the roses

Next he pulled out a pen knife, it was both long and sharp
And he plunged it right into his own dear Mary’s heart
Yes he plunged it right into his own dear Mary’s heart
And he’s left her lying low among the Roses

(Repeat verse 1)