Youghal Harbour is now perhaps best known for having lent its tune to the more famous Boolavogue, which was written by P J McCall about the 1798 Irish Rebellion.
The tune was also used in the Irish/Australian ballad Moreton Bay.
The author and composer of Youghal Harbour are unknown but the song was popular among broadsheet ballad sellers in the early half of the 19th century.
An encounter between two former lovers
Youghal Harbour relates the chance encounter between two former lovers and uses stylised devices found in several ballads of the time.
For example, the couple are still young and so it cannot be very many years since they last met, yet they don’t recognise each other at first.
The woman, known as Mary of Cappoquin, describes how the man courted her but then deceived her by leaving her – another common theme, as is the fact that she has been languishing in grief ever since.
However, the song then departs from the familiar themes and in words that seem very forward for the time, she asks him to return to her and she will provide him with a darling baby.
Think on Mary of Cappoquin
Her offer is followed by a further twist with the man suggesting that far from deceiving her in the past, the relationship ended because her parents were opposed to him.
This led him to leave his home country and move to Leinster – in rural Ireland, the word country was often used to mean a local area rather than the whole country.
Having moved to Leinster, he met another woman and he now wants to marry her instead.
It means his first love is rejected for a second time, leaving her to end the song with a warning to other women to “think on Mary of Cappoquin” and be wary of strangers who come courting.
Youghal Harbour Lyrics and Chords
As I [D]roved out on a sum[Bm]mer’s [G]morning
Ear[D]ly as the [B]day did [Em]dawn, [G]
When [D]Sol appeared in [Bm]pomp and [G]glory
I [D]took my [D7]way through a [G]pleasant [Em]lawn.
Where [D]pinks and [D7]violets were [G]sweetly [Em]blooming
And lin[D]nets warblin [Bm]in ev[Em]ery [G]shade,
I’ve [D]been alarmed by a [Bm]killing [G]charmer,
Near [D]Youghal Har[Bm]bour I [G]met this [D]maid.
Her aspect pleasing, her smiles engaging,
I thought she really would distract my mind,
When I viewed her feature, I thought on the fair one
That in Rathangan I left behind.
Her glancing eyes they seemed most pleasing,
“I think young man I saw you before,
Here in your absence in grief I languish,
My dear you’re welcome to me once more.
“Don’t you remember how you once deceived me,
And courted me with right good will,
But at your returning I’ll now quit mourning,
In hopes your promise you will fulfill.
A darling babe for you I’ll be rearing,
As in your travels you have never seen,
If you’ll agree, love, and come with me, love,
We’ll all live happy in Cappoquin.”
“Oh no, fair maid, I will tell you plainly,
Here to remain I will not agree,
For when your parents would not receive me,
It made me leave this countery.
And when your parents would not receive me
It’s then to Leinster I did repair,
Where I fell a-courting another fair one,
In sweet Rathangan, near to Kildare.
And now I’m going to leave off roving
For I am hoping her love to win,
To here I’ll go now, and I’ll bid adieu, now,
Saying, ‘Fare you well, sweet Cappoquin.’
So now he has left in grief bewailing,
That he my tender young heart did win.
So all fair maidens, beware of strangers,
And think on Mary of Cappoquin.”