To celebrate Irish Heritage Day today, here's one of my most favourite Irish folk songs, Down by the Salley Gardens ("salley" means willow tree). The lyrics come from an 1889 poem by W.B. Yeats, the Irish poet, nationalist, playwright, mystic and 1923 Nobel Laureate for Literature. It's a short, two-verse poem of youthful love, loss and regret:
The poem was later set to a traditional Irish tune and has been recorded by innumerable singers. I particularly love this version by the great Irish singer Maura O'Connell:
I've enjoyed playing this song on my recorder ever since I was a kid. A lot of water has flowed past the salley gardens since then, but it remains a beautiful poem and song.