Savourneen Deelish
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Barry Taylor

These words were written by English composer, George Colman, the Younger (1762-1836), manager of the Little Theatre, Drury Lane. In 1791, Colman collaborated with Samuel Arnold on the opera The Surrender of Calais in which these words first appeared. The tune is sometimes also credited to him, however the tune had been used earlier by William Shield (1748-1829) who transcribed it from John O'Keefe. The tune was used in their comic opera The Poor Soldier (1783).

William Shield was born at Smalwell, in Durham England in 1754. His father was a singing teacher and on his father's death, William was apprenticed to a boat builder. He continued his music and a piece he composed for the consecration of a church led to his leaving for London in 1779. He joined the orchestra of the King's band and became composer for Covent Garden Theatre. Shield died in Jannuary 1829.

Savourneen Deelish, Eileen Oge translates to Young Eileen, the faithful sweetheart.

Oh! the moment was sad when my love and I parted
Savourneen deelish, Eileen Oge!
As I kissed off her tears, I was nigh broken-hearted!
Savourneen deelish, Eileen Oge!
Wan was her cheek which lay on my shoulder
Damp was her hand, no marble was colder,
I felt again I should never behold her,
Savourneen deelish, Eileen Oge!

When the word of command put our men into motion.
Savourneen deelish, Eileen Oge!
I buckled on my knapsack to cross the wide ocean,
Savourneen deelish, Eileen Oge!
Brisk were our troops, all roaring like thunder,
Pleased with the voyage, impatient with plunder,
My bosom with grief was almost torn asunder,
Savourneen deelish, Eileen Oge!

Long I fought for my country, far, far from my true love.
Savourneen deelish, Eileen Oge!
All my pay and my booty I hoarded for you love.
Savourneen deelish, Eileen Oge!
Peace was proclaimed, escape from the slaughter,
Landed at home, my sweet girl I sought her;
But sorrow, alas! To the cold grave had brought her,
Savourneen deelish, Eileen Oge!
Related Links
From Songs of Ireland
J. L. Hatton and J. L. Molloy
See Bibliography for full information.