Willie Archer (The Banks of the Bann)

DESCRIPTION: Willie (Archer/Angler/Ingram) wanders by the Bann, meets a young girl, and seduces her. Afterward, he tells her that he cannot marry her because he is an apprentice. She asks his name; he gives it. She (?) warns young girls against men like him
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: before 1825 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 17(258a))
KEYWORDS: courting seduction apprentice abandonment sex
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (3 citations):
SHenry H614, p. 384, "Willie Angler/The Banks of the Bann" (1 text, 1 tune)
OBoyle 3, "The Banks of the Bann" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT, BNKSBANN

Roud #3473
RECORDINGS:
Robert Cinnamond, "The Banks of the Bann" (on IRRCinnamond01)
BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, Harding B 17(258a), "The River Ban" ("In yonder noisy harbour called the sweet Hilltown"), Angus (Newcastle), 1774-1825; also Harding B 16(13b) , Harding B 11(140), 2806 b.11(263), "The Banks of [the] Band"; 2806 b.11(209), Harding B 25(108), "[The] Banks of the Ban"
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Tripping Over the Lea" [Laws P19] (plot)
NOTES: Traditional singers tend to call this "The Banks of the Bann." But I use the title "Willie Archer" to prevent confusion with all the other songs of that title. - RBW
OBoyle: "The ... reference to Willie's apprenticeship in Raithfriland [Riverhead town in Harding B 17(258a)] would date the song sometime in the nineteenth century when the home-weaving of linen in eastern Ulster was superseded by the introduction of the power loom." - BS
Sam Henry's notes say this was written by "Johnny Spence, 'a kind of gentleman' (Castleroe), c. 1865." The Bodleian broadside would seem to dispose of this hypothesis. But that it was written by someone with literary training seems likely, because the form is not very "folky." The tune I've heard, from Silly Wizard, is a standard long-stanza ballad tune -- four lines, each of seven stresses and fourteen syllables. But the broadsides indicate no tune, and most of the lines in those versions (and indeed many of the lines in the Silly Wizard version) have six stresses and twelve syllables -- a very un-folk-like form. And then there is the fact that every stanza ends with the word "Bann" (or "Band"), with the next-to-last line rhyming with that and the two lines before rhyming with each other (i.e. the rhyme scheme for every stanza is a/a/-an(d)/Ban(d)) -- a quite artificial format. This strongly hints at someone striving for literary effect, with the song making its way into tradition only in Ireland. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.3
File: HHH614

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