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The song can be traced back to the mid-19th century. Despite the Irish nature of the lyrics, it has only turned up once in Ireland, but numerous times in Scotland, as well as Canada and the USA. English versions are very rare and apart from the Brazil family, it has only been found twice, once in Wiltshire and once in Hampshire. Most versions have the heroine as Sally Monro(e) (or Munro) and Harry’s pronunciation as Marone is distinctive. However, the Wiltshire version gives M’roe.
Harry’s text is rather incomplete and does not give the whole story. The words as printed in one mid-19th century are:
Come all you young females I pray you attend,
Unto these few line that I have here pen’d;
I’ll tell you the hardships I did undergo,
With my bonny lass called Sally Munro,
James Dixon’s my name, I’m a blacksmith by trade
In the town of Ayr I was born and bred,
From that unto Belfast I lately did go,
There I got acquainted with Sally Munro.
I to this young lassie a letter did send,
It was by a comrade, I thought him a friend,
Instead of a friend to me, he proved a foe,
He ne’er gave my letter to Sally Munro.
He told her old mother to beware of me,
He said I’d a wife in my own country;
O, then said her old mother, now since it be so,
He ne’er shall enjoy his young Sally Munro.
For two months and better I never could hear, A word from the lass that I once loved so dear Until that one evening, ’twas in Sandy Row, It‘s who should I meet but young Sally Munro. I told her if she’d come to Newry with me, In spite of her parents there married we’d be She says, no objections I have now to go, if you will prove constant to Sally Munro.
Now here is my hand love and here is my hear
Till death separates us, we never will part;
Next day in a coach we for Newry did go,
And there I got married to Sally Manro.
‘Twas at Warren’s Point the ship Newry lay,
With four hundred passengers ready for sea;
We then paid our passage for Quebec also,
And there I embarked with Sally Manro.
On the 14th of April, from the Point we set sail
And bore down the channel with a pleasant gale ;
The parting of friends caused some tears for to flow
Bull was quite happy with Sally Munro.
On the second evening there came on a fog,
There on the Welsh coast our fine vessel did log
To Caernarvon bay, while all were below,
I ne’er thought ’twas there I’d part with Sally Monro.
At nine o’clock that night nigh Bardsey we drew,
But the mist hid both light and land from view,
The woman and children were all down below,
And amongst the rest was my Sally Munro.
Here dreading no danger we met with a shock,
Twas all on a sudden she struck upon a rock ;
Two hundred and sixty who were down below,
Were drowned and so I lost Sally Munro.
Many a man in this voyage lost his dear wife,
And children he loved far better than life;
I was preserved, yet salt tears do flew,
And I sigh when I think on my Sally Munro.
It was from her parents I took her away,
Which will check my conscience till my dying day.
It was not to injure her that I really did so.
All my life I will mourn for my Sally Munro.