Jeannie Hutchison                                                                                         SA1974.12.8

Gavin Greig, the Aberdeenshire collector remarked that this Irish song had long been popular in Scotland.  This is not surprising since it was one of many broadsides published at “The Poet’s Box”  in Dundee.   Jeannie sings just a fragment of it to the tune her mother used for it – one which is very similar to a version collected by James Duncan, Greig’s colleague, from Robert Alexander of Culsalmond parish near Huntley in 1906 (Grieg–Duncan Folk Song Collection vol. 5, pp. 399 and Roud Index. No. 266). We’ve added some of the extra  verses to help make sense of the narrative.  They are compiled from other versions in the Grieg–Duncan Collection.

[As I walked out one evening all in the month of May
Down by the banks of Claudy I carelessly did stray
I overheard a fair maid in sorrow to complain
All for her absent lover, that ploughed the raging main.]

Oh if my Johnnie he were he’d shield me from all harm
He’s on the banks of Claudy all in his uniform.
Da-ra da-da-ra-rannie and Johnnie is his name,
All for a faithless lover an’ Johnnie is his name.

I boldly stepped up to her and put her in surprise
I own she did not know me, I being in disguise.
I said “My pretty fair maid, my joy and heart’s delight
How far d’you have to wander, this dark and dreary night?”

“Kind sir, the road to Claudy will you be pleased to show
And pity the distress-ed, for there I mean to go
In search of a faithless young man, and Johnnie is his name
And on the banks of Claudy I’m told he does remain.”

[“This is the banks of Claudy fair maid on where you stand
But don’t depend on Johnnie for he’s a false young man
Oh don’t depend on Johnnie for he’ll never meet you here
But stay with me in the green wood, no danger need you fear.” 

“If Johnnie he were here this night he’d keep me from all harm,
But he’s in the field of battle all in his uniform;
He’s in the field of battle, his foes he doth defy
Like a royal king of honour he’ll gain the victory.”

 “Its ten long weeks and better since Johnnie left the shore
He was crossing the wide ocean where lofty billows roar
Gin a be true they tell to me your Johnnie he is lost
And on the wide ocean his body it is tossed.”

When she heard this dreadful news she flew into despair
With the wringing of her hands and the tearing of her hair
“Since Johnnie’s gone and left me no other one I’ll take
Thro lonesome groves and valleys I’ll wander for his sake.”

Its when he saw her faithful heart no longer could he stand
He took her in her arms saying Betsy I’m the man
Saying Betsy I’m the young man, the cause of all your pain
And since we’ve met on Claudy’s banks we’ll never part again

This couple they got married now in splendour as we hear
And Johnnie’s got his Betsy and Betsy’s got his dear
And Johnnie loves his Betsy above all womankind
And since they met on Claudy’s banks they ne’er did part again.]