My Lagan Love

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"My Lagan Love" is a song to a traditional Irish air collected in 1903 in northern Donegal.

The English lyrics have been credited to Joseph Campbell (1879–1944, also known as Seosamh MacCathmhaoil and Joseph McCahill, among others).[1] Campbell was a Belfast man whose grandparents came from the Irish-speaking area of Flurrybridge, South Armagh. He started collecting songs in County Antrim. In 1904 he began a collaboration with composer Herbert Hughes.[2] Together, they collected traditional airs from the remote parts of County Donegal.

While on holidays in Donegal, Hughes had learned the air from Proinseas mac Suibhne, who had learned it from his father Seaghan mac Suibhne, who in turn had learned it fifty years previously from a man working with the Ordnance Survey of Ireland.[1] Campbell said that mac Suibhne knew the tune under the title of "The Belfast Maid", but did not know the words.[1] A song by this title was published in various early 19th century broadsides, with the first lines "In Belfast town of high renown / There lives a comely maid".[3] This ballad now has Roud number 2930.[3]

The Lagan referred to in the title most likely is the River Lagan in Belfast. Campbell's words mention Lambeg, which is just outside the city. The Lagan is the river that runs through Belfast. However, some argue that the Lagan in the song refers to a stream that empties into Lough Swilly in County Donegal, not far from where Herbert Hughes collected the song.[4]

The song was arranged in a classical style by Hamilton Harty; this was used by Mary O'Hara and Charlotte Church.



  1. ^ a b c Songs of Uladh (Herbert Hughes and Joseph Campbell) published in Belfast by William Mullan and Sons; in Dublin by MH Gill, 1904
  2. ^ Norah Saunders, 1988. Joseph Campbell: Poet & Nationalist 1879-1944, a Critical Biography
  3. ^ a b A new song called The Belfast Maid Broadside Ballads Online from the Bodleian Libraries, Harding B25(165)
  4. ^ A Song for Ireland.
  • John A. McLaughlin: One Green Hill, 2003. Beyond the Pale, Belfast. ISBN 978-1-900960-21-2.

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