Known most commonly today as She Moved Through The Fair, the melody of this song is thought to date back to medieval times, and is said to have originated as a County Derry fiddle tune. A similar melody appears in the Scots Gaelic tradition, but the version used in this arrangement was first collected in Donegal by musicologist Herbert Hughes (1882-1937), and poet Padraic Colum (1881-1972). The song was first published in a Boosey & Hawkes collection, Irish Country Songs, in 1909.
Colum stated in a letter published in The Irish Times on April 22, 1970, that he retained the final verse of a traditional song that he and Hughes had heard in Donegal, and had written the first three verses to fit the melody and connect the story to the concluding verse. Because of the nature of the aural tradition of music transmission that has existed in Ireland for centuries, it is not unusual to find other versions of this song with melodic or text variations. Songs such as Our Wedding Day, I Once Had a True Love, and Out of the Window, all bear traits of She Moved Through the Fair, though it is the latter that is heard most frequently, and with the most consistently performed melody and text.
I wish to acknowledge the kind permission granted for the use of the poem by Clíona O’Sullivan-Colum, niece of Padraic Colum, and overseer of her uncle’s estate.