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|This tune is in The Songs of Ireland (circa 1879) and is listed there as "an old melody."
It also appears in The Complete Collection of Irish Music (1902-1905) by C. V. Stanford. The Complete Collection was based on tunes in the Petrie Manuscripts which were all collected before Petrie's death in 1866.
The tune is also known as Willie Lennox, Willie Leonard and The Lakes of Col Flynn. Some versions tell the story of a hero who drowns in the lake.
The lake is variously named Col Fin, Col Flynn, Cold Finn, Cool Flynn, Coolfin, Coephin, and Coulfin. The named lake is no longer on the map. It may have been an expansion of the River Bann, which is mentioned in Willie Lennox.
According to Sam Henry the lake gave its name to the Barony of Loughinsholin (the lough of the island of the O'Lynns - who were originally O'Flynn). They were possibly the builders of Dunluce Castle and later, from 1121 A.D. occupied Hy Tuirtre which now consists of Lower Antrim, Lower Toome, Lower Glanarm and Kilconway.
Oh! Calm was the lake of Coolfin on that day,
When o'er its wide waters we glided along,
No cloud in the heavens o'er shadow'd our way,
And light hearted laughter was join'd in our song.
The wild winds of Winter now sweep o'er the lake,
The snowdrift lies deep on its desolate shore,
The roll of the thunder its echoes awake,
And summer time smiles on its bosom no more.
As bright is the sunshine of youth's early day,
As gay are the pleasures our life may begin;
In this world below they must soon pass away,
And be overcast as the lake of Coolfin....
Songs of Ireland
J. L. Hatton and J. L. Molloy
Information from Bruce Olsen's Roots of Folk Website
And Sam Henry's Songs of the People
See Bibliography for full information.