Down By The Sally Gardens reel

Also known as An Traigh Mughdhorna, Down By The Salley Gardens, Gort Na Saileán, The Maid Of Moorlough Shore, The Maid Of Mourne Shore, The Maid Of The Mourne Shore, Maids Of Mourne Shore, The Maids Of Mourne Shore, The Maids Of The Mountain Shore, Mourne Shore, The Mourne Shore.

There are 38 recordings of this tune.

Down By The Sally Gardens appears in 2 other tune collections.

Down By The Sally Gardens has been added to 27 tune sets.

Down By The Sally Gardens has been added to 388 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Six settings

X: 1
T: Down By The Sally Gardens
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
A2|d2cA B3d|c3A F2FA|B2AF ABde|d6 DE|
X: 2
T: Down By The Sally Gardens
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
(DE)|(F2ED) (E{FE}DEF)|(A4B2)(dA)|({d}B2AF) (E3D)|(B,4A,2) (DE)|
(F2E)(D E{FE}DEF)|(A4B2) (dA)|({d}B2A)(F E3D)|D6||
A2|(d2c)(A B3d)|c3(A F2FA)|({d}B2A)(F ABde)|d6 (DE)|
(F2ED E)({FE}DEF)|(A4B2) (dA)|({d}B2AF) ({EF}E3D)|D6||
X: 3
T: Down By The Sally Gardens
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
DE|:"D"F2ED"A"E2FA|"G"B4"D"A2dA|"G"B2AF"A"~E2>D2|1 "D"D6DE:|2 "D"D6A2||
"Bm"d2cAB2cd|"F#m"c2>B2A2FA|"G"B2AF "A"AB de|"D"d6 DE|
X: 4
T: Down By The Sally Gardens
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
DE|F2ED E2 FA|B4 A2 dA|B2 AF E3 D|D4 z2DE|
F2 ED E2 FA|B4 A2 dA|B2 AF E3D|D4 z2 A2||
d2 cA B2 cd|c2 cB A2 FA|B2 AF ABde|d4 z2 DE|
F2 ED E2 FA|B4 A2 dA|B2 AF E3D|D4 z2||
# Added by JACKB .
X: 5
T: Down By The Sally Gardens
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Cmaj
"D"DE|F2 ED "A"E2 FA|"G"B4 "D"A2 dA|"G"B2 AF "A"E3 D|"D"D4 z2 DE|
F2 ED "A"E2 FA|"G"B4 "D"A2 dA|"G"B2 AF "A"E3 D|"D"D4 z2 A2|
"Bm"d2 cA "G"B2 d2|"A"c4 "D"A2 FA|"G"B2 AF "A"AB de|"D"d4 z2 DE|
F2 ED "A"E2 FA|"G"B4 "D"A2 dA|"G"B2 AF "A"E3 D|"D"D4 z4||
X: 6
T: Down By The Sally Gardens
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:(DE)|F2 ED E2 FA|B4 A2 dA|B2 AF E3 D|D6:|
A2|d2 cA B2 d2|c3 B A2 FA|B2 AFAB de|d6 (DE)|
F2 ED E2 FA|B4 A2 dA|B2 AFE3 D|D6||

Thirty-two comments

As down by the sally gardens
My love and I did stray

I heard this beautiful tune played by the Celtic Orchestra on an oldish compendium tape my wife has. On the tape it is called “Sally Gardens” but it is not the fast Sally Gardens reel generally played in sessions. I eventually tracked it down in O’Neill, but not under that name (details below). In fact, it is not a reel at all; it is a slow air based on an 18c song “The Rambling Boys of Pleasure”, the first line of which is “It’s down in Sally’s garden O, there hangs rosies, three”. This is probably the origin of the tune title on the tape. I suggest it should be played no faster than 1/4=90. The two parts of the tune are not repeated.

The Irish title means “The Mourne Shore”, and the tune is also known as “The Maids of the Mourne Shore”. It is in O’Neill’s 1850, as #49, but in F. I have transposed it down into D for a number of reasons: to take advantage of the increased sonority of the fiddle in that key, to have a lovely descent onto the G string at the end of an important phrase in the A part, and to avoid using the E string, which, to my mind, is too strident for this gentle slow tune. In the only bar where the high E occurs (bar 3 in the B part) as an unaccented passing note I suggest it is best played on the A string with the 4th finger.

Here follows a variation in which I have added ornaments (the first one of which is in O’Neill) and phrasing, which indicates the bowing. Where sections of the tune reoccur I have changed the phrasing (i.e. the bowing), to sometimes bow across the beat, so as to get variety in the way these sections are played. This, of course, is only one of many ways in which this tune may be phrased and ornamented. This variation prints out accurately on ABC2Win.

(DE)|(F2ED) (E{FE}DEF)|(A4B2)(dA)|({d}B2AF) (E3D)|(B,4A,2) (DE)|
(F2E)(D E{FE}DEF)|(A4B2) (dA)|({d}B2A)(F E3D)|D6||
A2|(d2c)(A B3d)|c3(A F2FA)|({d}B2A)(F ABde)|d6 (DE)|
(F2ED E)({FE}DEF)|(A4B2) (dA)|({d}B2AF) ({EF}E3D)|D6||

The tape with this tune on is no longer available but there is an equivalent CD “All Ireland Songs & Heroes” on Dara label GAELD1. It is a compendium of songs (mostly) relating to various place names in Ireland.


Sally Gardens

The words I posted above were by W.B. Yeats and commonly sung to a variant of the air. If it’s not a reel, why post it as one?

Unfortunately, because airs and song tunes can take a large variety of time signatures, and possibly none at all if the air is rather free in form, they cannot be defined by a single time signature which apparently is required by the way in which The Session database is organised. So the only way in which you can submit a slow air or a song tune (which are usually much slower than the dance tunes) is to define it as a reel, waltz (a popular choice), strasphey or whatever is closest, and then in the comments tell everyone that it is in fact a slow air or song tune and should be performed accordingly. Which is what I’ve done in my comment.


I get your point but I can’t imagine this tune being played or danced as a reel.

He’s not saying it should be played as a dance or a reel. Please read the explanation again.

By submitting this tune under the category “reel”, all it says about the tune is that it is in 4/4 with 1/8 length notes.

Trevor has already explained very succinctly why there can be no “air” category. His choices were to either post this tune as a reel, waltz, polka, whatever or else not post it at all.


Apologies Trevor and Jeremy,
It was late and Trevor’s explanation of why an air should be listed under reels went over my head. I should have read it more carefully.


I love Jeremy’s email: “His choices were to either post this tune as a reel, waltz, polka, whatever or else not post it at all.” As usual, he refrains from saying which one would have been the correct choice.

Heard THis on a CD

..Called *Celtic Charms*

Nice way of doing it with a Harp and a Harmonica, of all things.

Sounded lovely, though.


Sally Gardens

Does anyone have any information on the history of the tune “Down By the Sally Gardens”? When was it written and by who? Thanks!

Posted by .

Re: Sally Gardens

Song lyrics by W.B Yeats, I think, and the air may be a hymn tune. Not 100% sure about this though.

Posted by .

Re: Sally Gardens

I have a set of song books (Folksongs & Ballads Popular in Ireland - publ. by Ossian ISBN 0 946005 01 X). The notes about “Down by the Sally Gardens” read as follows:

Although the words are in a poem by W.B. yeats in a publication of 1889, a song called ‘The Rambling Boys of Pleasure’ was composed in the 18th century. Its first verse goes: ‘It’s down in Sally’s garden O, there hangs rosies three.’ Yeats certainly found his inspiration in these lines. The air is ‘The Maids of Mourne Shore’. [end of quotation]

‘The Maids of Mourne Shore’ is a tune you’ll find in O’Neill, so that itself is of fairly venerabl

Re: Sally Gardens

A beautiful version of this song is on the Clannad in Concert CD - track #7. On the album it is known as “Down by the Sally Gardens”

A little poem by AE Housman fits the tune well:

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
"Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free."
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
"The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
’Tis paid with sighs a plenty
And sold for endless rue."
And I am two-and-twenty,
And oh, ‘tis true, ’tis true.


AE Housman

But the definitive version of that song is the Butterworth version, which is, of course, English Folk Song (classical).

Posted by .

This song is called Maids of the Morune Shore in a book i have.

Might i add that Black 47 puts their song “40 shades of blue” to this air.

Alternative version of Sally Gardens

Here is a version of the air Sally Gardens which is suitable for the tin whistle and ofcourse any melody instruments. I have transcribed it from a CD with James Galway.

T:13. Sally Gardens
S:James Galway
Z:Klas Krantz

DE |: “D”F2ED“A”E2FA | “G”B4“D”A2dA | “G”B2AF“A”~E2>D2 |1 “D”D6DE :|2 “D”D6A2 |
“Bm”d2cAB2cd | “F#m”c2>B2A2FA | “G”B2AF “A”AB de | “D”d6 DE |
“D”F2ED“A”E2FA | “G”B4“D”A2dA | “G”B2AF“A”~E2>D2 | D6 |]

Tune research question?

I’m a fledgling Baltimore fiddle player, and also a writer. I’m working on a book of which part is a fictionalized account of my great-great-grandfather’s immigration from Ireland around 1850. My question is, if this character in the book plays the tune in 1850 as The Maids of the Mourne Shore, or An Traigh Mughdhorma, would that be accurate, for the time?
(I love playing this tune very slowly.)

Gaelic lyrics

Is thíos i nGort na Saileán
sea casadh dom mo rún
Ba luath a cos ar féar ann
is ba luaineach a leagan siúil
Sé dúirt sí liom bheith suaimhneach
mar a fhásann duilliúr is bláth
Ach bhí mise óg is uaibhreach
is níor éist mé le guth mo ghrá.

Is thíos cois abhann go déaneamh
sea sheas mé le mo ghrá
Gualainn ar ghualainn le chéile
is leag sí orm lámh
Sé dúirt sí liom bheith suaimhneach
mar a fhásann féar aníos
Ach bhí mise óg is uabhreach
’stá na deoira anois mo chloí

“An Traigh Mughdhorna” / “The Mourne Shore” / “Down By the Sally Gardens” ~ in 3/4

Key signature: D Major & G Major
Submitted on May 10th 2009 by ceolachan.

This one’s a real pleaure to play. I’ve transcribed the sheet music version down to G on the fly so as to play it on a D whistle, and it’s one of those tunes where I found myself ornamenting it even while hashing it out from the dots, it fits so nicely on my fingers.

The comments here do convolute the story behind the tune somewhat.

W B Yeats wrote a poem (c 1889), trying to remember a song he’d heard in his younger days. He called the poem “An Old Song Re-Sung”. It had no melody. It is almost certain that the song Yeats was trying to recall was “Ye Rambling Boys of Pleasure”.
Later, in 1909, Herbert Hughes set Yeats’ poem to music, and he chose a melody used for the song “The Maid of Mourne Shore”. This song sometimes substitutes “Moorlough” for “Mourne”, and there are several variants. The title sometimes is given as “The Maids of Mourne Shore”, but there is only one “maid” involved in the song, so it could be taken as an error. The first two verses of one version go:

"Ye hills and dales and flowery vales that lie around Mourne shore
Ye winds that blow over Martin’s Hills will I ever hear you more
Where the primrose grows and the violet blows and the sporting trout there plays
With line and hook delight I took to spend my youthful days.

Last night I went to see my love, to hear what she would say;
Thinking she would pity me lest I should go away.
She said: "’I love a sailor; he’s the lad that I adore;
And seven years I’ll wait on him; so trouble me no more.“”

The last verse:

"Our ship she lies off Warren’s Point, just ready to set sail,
May all Goodness now protect her with a sweet and pleasant gale,
Had I ten thousand pounds in gold, or had I ten times more,
I would freely share with the girl I love - the Maid of Mourne Shore."

As O‘Neill published his version before Hughes had used the melody for Yeats’ poem, there would be no connection between the two at the time of publication.

I hope this makes things a bit clearer.

Down by the Sally Gardens

Could I use this sheet music for viola???

Down By The Sally Gardens, X:2

Just the result of some copying, pasting, playing, pondering and tweaking. Thought you might appreciate the lyrics as well.

Re: Down By The Sally Gardens

I would normally sing it in A having a bit of an alto voice, but just love this tune. And, as the poem is quite short, would do verse1 verse2 verse1 again as shown here.

Re: Down By The Sally Gardens

My first encounter with this tune was in a Techniques of Accompanying course when I was a music major in college. One of the voice majors was trying to learn the Benjamin Britten “derangement” of Sally Gardens and I was assigned to accompany her when she was practicing. Britten’s version was “interesting” to say the least. It wasn’t too terribly difficult but it was in either D Flat Major or G Flat Major if I remember correctly.


Re: Down By The Sally Gardens

I first got to know this folk song through Britten’s arrangement. I know one contributor wasn’t a fan of this arrangement but one must realise that Britten’s genre is Classical and I think he approached it from a “Lieder” perspective.

Anyway, I have a question, I recently watch an arrangement for tin whistle on YouTube by this brilliant young lady,

I know there is some fantastic talent behind the posts on this site and I was wondering if one of you geniuses of the tin whistle can work out the ornamentation? I’m a novice and I find it hard to follow. I would be most grateful if someone could post an approximation of it.
Thank you so much.