Derry Down Dale
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

According to William Barrett this song probably belonged to a play. He dates the song to the beginning of the 1800s.

There is an undated broadside of the same name at the Bodleian Library, with different lyrics which is noted as "Sung with great applause by Mr. Kear at Groto-Gardens."

Folksongs of Britain and Ireland by Peter Kennedy lists Derry Down Fair as a variant of Ramble-away. The tune is also known as Brocklesby Fair and Young Ramble-away. The town is variously Brimbledon, Brocklesby, Brimbledown, Burlington and Derry Town. According to Kennedy they are probably all a corruption of Birmingham, which appears in an old broadside.

In Derry Down Dale, when I wanted a mate,
I went to my daddy a-courting of Kate;
With my nosegay so fine, and my holiday clothes,
My hands in my pockets a -courting I goes.
The weather was cold and my bosom wa shot,
My heart in a gallop, the mare in a trot;
Now, I was so bashful and loving withal,
My tongue stuck to my mouth - I said nothing at all.

When I got to the door I looked lumpish and glum,
The knocker I held 'twixt my finger and thumb;
Rap-tap went the rapper, and Kate show'd her chin,
She chuckled and ducked - I bowed and went in.
Now, I was a bashful as bashful could be,
And Kitty, poor soul, was as bashful as me;
So I bow'd and she grinned, and I let my hat fall,
And I smiled, scratched my head, and said nothing at all.

If bashful was I, no less bashful the maid,
She simpered and blushed - with her apron strings played,
Till the old folks, impatient to have the thing done,
Agreed little Kitty and I should be one.
In silence we young folks soon nodded consent;
Hand-in-hand to the church to be married we went,
Where we answered the parson in voices so small,
You scarce could have heard us say - nothing at all.

But mark, what a change in the course of a week,
Our Kate left off blushing - I boldly could speak;
Could toy with my Kitty, laugh loud at a jest;
And Kate she could talk too, as well as the best.
Ashamed of past follies, we often declared
To encourage young folks who at wedlock are scared;
If once to you aid some assurance you call,
You may kiss and get married, it's nothing at all.

Variants at this site:

From English Folk-Songs
Folksongs of Britain and Ireland
See Bibliography for full information.