16 May

Drummond’s Land

Drummond's Land

At the foot of David’s mountains where the waters they run calm,
And purling streams do gently glide down by my father’s land,
All covered o’er with a linen cloth that was wrought near Tendersgay*
And was purchased by one Kinnedy*, a man of high degree.

As I roved out one morning all for to take the air,
I being a clever young man with a fusee in my hand,
I might have shot a score or more had I but known my fate,
For my name is McCallum from the falls, and you know my fortune’s great.

As I roved out one evening down by the watchman’s dam,
The Belleville coach came rolling in all loaded to the ground,
[I put my spyglass to my eye, I viewed it all around]
And in one of the front seats sat a lady of renown.

I boldly stepped up to her for to help her from the coach,
I took her by the lily-white hand as we stood on the beach.
I showed her all my father’s ships that were bound for Cheshire fair,
Saying, “Only for you, lady, I am sure I would be there.”

I says, “My pretty fair maid, will you come to yonder inn,
And there we’ll have a bottle of wine our joys for to begin.
For I have lost a diamond more precious far than gold.
And you are the one that found it, fair lady, I am told.”

“For the keeping of young men’s company, kind sir, I’m not exposed,
Nor yet am I a lady, although I wear fine clothes,
I am but a farmer’s daughter that dwells near Hamilton’s band*;
And for further information, I dwell on Drummond’s land.”

Oh, it’s “Kind and honored lady, won’t you take the coach with me,
And we’ll go down to Drummond’s land your father for to see.
Five thousand pound in ready gold to your father I’ll bestow,
And I’ll crown you queen of Drummond’s land this night before we go.”

“I am sorry for you, young man. Your suit must be denied,
For I’m already promised to be a young man’s bride,
For I’m already promised these seven long years and more.
He is but a linen weaver, the lad whom I adore.”

*These are all as printed in the Rickaby manuscript. Based on versions from Eddie Butcher and one printed in Sam Henry’s “Songs of the People” I sing “Tandragee” (Co. Armagh) in place of Tendersgay, “Kennedy” in place of Kinnedy, and “Hamiltonsbawn” (Co. Armagh) in place of Hamilton’s band.

**line missing in the Ross text. I used text from Eddie Butcher recording and Sam Henry published version.

[the following has been edited due to mistakes and omissions in the print version that appeared in the May IMDA newsletter]

The text of this version of “Drummond’s Land” (aka “David’s Flowery Vale”) was sent by Andy Ross of Charlevoix, Michigan to collector Franz Rickaby in August 1922. Rickaby had met with Ross and transcribed his singing in 1921 and hoped to make it back to Charlevoix to get Ross’s melody for Drummond’s Land at a later date. Unfortunately, Rickaby’s failing health caused him to leave the Upper Midwest for good in 1923 and Ross’s melody was never obtained.

I have paired Ross’s text with a melody used for another version of “Drummond’s Land” that appears in Sam Henry’s wonderful Songs of the People.  There is a nice recording of Derry singer Eddie Butcher singing another version which you can hear at the Irish Traditional Music Archive website here. Yet another version was sung by Co. Antrim singer Robert Cinnamond which you can hear on the album Not a Word of No Surrender.

Cinnamond’s version holds the key to the song’s origin as the wealthy suitor’s name is there McCance (instead of McCallum as in Ross’ version). John McCance (1772-1835) was a wealthy landowner, politician and owner of linen operations whose large estate was, indeed, at the foot of Divis (not David’s) Mountain just west of Belfast in County Antrim.

Another version of this song’s text from the Lisburn Historical Society along with biographical info on John McCance.

More background on this song from the Traditional Ballad Index