the song
title : Curragh of Kildare; also known as The love-sick maid
written by : traditional, arranged by Eddi Reader
song copyright : arrangement © 2001 Redemption Songs

the performance
Eddi Reader vocal, (acoustic?) guitar, concertina
with :
Boo Hewerdine high-strung acoustic guitar
key : D major
time-signature : 4/4
tempo : MM 58
form : V V v V V v

Curragh of Kildare

winter is past
and summer is come at last
and the small birds are singing in the trees
their little hearts are glad
ah, but mine is very sad
for my true love’s far away from me

all you that are in love
and cannot it remove
I pity all the pain that you endure
for experience lets me know
that your hearts are full of woe
it’s a woe that no mortal can endure

ribbons I’ll wear
and I’ll comb back my hair
and in velvet so green I will appear
and it’s straight I will go there
to the Curragh of Kildare
for it’s there I’ll find tidings of my dear

oh, the winter is past
and the summer’s come at last
and the small birds are singing in the trees
oh their little hearts are glad
ah, but mine is very sad
for my true love’s far away from me


This is a traditional version of a ballad, The love-sick maid, about a high-born girl who was in love with a highwayman named Johns(t)on, hanged in 1750 for robbery in Kildare, Ireland. An early printed text is :

The love-sick maid

“THe Winter it is past, and the Summer come at last;
    And the small Birds sing on every tree;
The Hearts of those are glad, whilst mine is very sad,
    For my true Love is absent from me.

“I’ll put on my cap of black, and fringes about my neck,
    And Rings on my fingers I’ll wear;
All this I’ll undertake, for [my] true Lover’s sake,
    For he Rides at the Curragh of Kildare.

“A Livery I’ll wear, and I’ll comb down my Hair,
    And I’ll dress in the Velvet so green;
Straitways I will repair to the Curragh of Kildare,
    And ’tis there I will get tydings of him.”

With Patience she did wait, ’till they ran for the Plate,
    In thinking young Johnston to see;
“But Fortune prov’d unkind to that Sweetheart of mine,
    For he’s gone to Lurgan from me!

“I should not think it stange the wide world for to range,
    If I could obtain my Heart’s delight:
But here in Cupid’s chain I’m oblig’d to remain,
    Whilst in tears I do spend the whole Night.

“My Love is like the Sun, that in the Firmament doth run,
    Which is always constant and true:
But your’s is like the Moon, that doth wander up and down,
    And in every Month it is new.”

All you that are in Love, and cannot it remove,
    For [all of] you pittied are by me;
Experience makes me know that your Heart is full of woe,
    Since my true Love is absent from me.

Farewel, my Joy and Heart, since you and I must part,
    You are the fairest that e’er I did see:
And I never do design for to alter my mind,
    Altho’ you’re below my Degree.

source : The Roxburghe ballads / edited, with special introduction and notes, by J. Woodfall Ebsworth. – Vol. 6. – Hertford : Ballad Society, 1889 — page 240, reprinting Roxburghe collection, III, 680; London rake’s garland, 1765

As far as I know, the ‘Curragh of Kildare’ is a heathland in the county of Kildare, Ireland. Also, I think it is, and was then, the site of the racecourse known as ‘The Curragh’, hence the reference to ‘rides at the Curragh’ and ‘ran for the Plate’ in the ballad.

the recording
produced by : Eddi Reader, Boo Hewerdine and Roy Dodds
recorded by : Roy Dodds at Driftwood Studio, London
mixed by : Roy Dodds at ?
mastered by : Duncan Cowell at Sound Mastering
track timing : 3:43
song timing : m:ss
released on
album : Simple soul [UICE-1007]   track 12
album : Driftwood (UK) track 4

Eddi later recorded Robert Burns’s version of this song as ‘The winter it is past’ for her …sings the songs of Robert Burns album
Adrian Dover