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John Moulden Origins: Bonny Portmore (28) Lyr Add: BONNY PORTMORE 17 Sep 00


The other song is about a young man who is in process of abandonding his girl friend.

Bruce, your text above begins to make things clearer especially when you see what I've got below. Valendary in the above text is pretty certainly Ballinderry.

I realise from the link provided by Malcolm that I suggested, as I did just above, that I would post this text about 2 years ago - better late than never.

Francis Joseph Bigger, a Belfast solicitor and antiquary, a Protestant home ruler and friend of Roger Casement, published the text - much longer than any other known to me - in an article entitled "Bonnie Portmore" in a little book published for a fund raising bazaar held (I think) in the nearby Glenavy Parish. I didn't note the full details of the book but it is catalogued under Bonnie Portmore in the Catalogue of the Bigger Collection at Belfast Central Library. Bigger says nothing about how he came by the text - there is no tune - and I haven't yet found out. However it is of some interest. There is (I was mistaken) only a scrap in Sam Henry's papers

BONNIE PORTMORE.

Bonnie Portmore, you shine where you stand
the more I think on you, the more I think long.
If I had you now as I had you before,
All the lords in Europe could not purchase Portmore.

There are no lords in Europe such rights can afford
As the Tunnie, Ram's Island, and Bonnie Portmore
There are two lakes, also, for fishing, again,
And the Deerpark, for hunting the head of all game.

Bonnie Portmore, I'm sorry to see
Such a woeful downfall on your ornament tree;
It stood on your shores for many a long day,
Till the long boats of Antrim did float it away.

When "Diana" was launched from the dry land,
Both nobles and lords, they stood looking on;
They sailed round the Deerpark and round Feemore,
And came back to the landing at Bonnie Portmore.

Squire Dobbs was ingenious: he framed a wind-mill
To drain the lough dry, but the lough is there still
His wind-mill and engine, it all was in vain-
The Lough of Portmore he never could drain.

Your heart would have sorrowed for the cry of the swan,
When the water was doomed from. the lough to be drawn
They gathered together, and went off in flocks,
And have taken abode in Magilligan's rocks.

'Twould have been a great pity to have drawn it dry,
For, Bonnie Portmore, you need no supply;
'Tis a harbour for shipping, the bogs doth endure,
A pleasure for strangers, and food for the poor.

Dobbs cut a canal from under the dam,
To drain the wee lough into arable land;
There was ninety-five acres, I dare say, and more
Destroyed from the Tunnie along to Portmore.

The first who lived in it was Carter, I'm sure
The next was Sir Thomas, and, wonderful more,
They were Christians I know, but still they got worse,
And their bones they lie rotting now in the old Church.

The canal it did tremble when the flood it came down,
And when the wind blew the mill it went round :
When the wind it did blow the mill she went right-
What she threw off all day crept under at night.

Then why, Ram's Island, should you still lament
Or why should you yield to their saucy intent
These two lakes united in friendship are bound
It's the opinion of many they went underground.

The labouring men, they wrought by the yard,
They wrought by the day when the work it -grew hard:
And when the men thought their wages were won,
They were farther in debt than when they begun.

When Dobbs' intention it would not prevail,
They gathered more workmen, and cut through the soil
And when he had done, and could do no more,
He then bid farewell to Bonnie Portmore.

In the Tunnie Island there be a great fall,
And thro' Brankin's Park a stone-and-lime wall
And thro' Derryola an open highway,
Before Bonnie Portmore goes all to decay.

Bonnie Portmore, you're fairly undone!
Where once your fine buildings-their equal was none
With your ivory tables, and windows of ash,
Where lords used to dine, but where people now thrash.

The birds of the forest, they now cry and weep,
Saying, Where will we harbour, or where will we sleep?
Since Portmore's fine buildings are gone to decay,
And George's fair island it is cut away.

Now. Bonnie Portmore, fare you well, fare you well
Of your far-famed beauty I ever shall tell ;
When my last day shall come, I'll lie by your shore,
And sweet will my dreams be in Bonnie Portmore.


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