>> Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The song was first collected in Donegal by poet Padraic Colum and musicologist Herbert Hughes, and published by Boosey & Hawkes in London in a work entitled Irish Country Songs in 1909. The tune is in mixolydian mode. The lyrics were also published in Colum's 1922 book Wild Earth: and Other Poems (though the book doesn't mention their traditional origin).
A longer variant of the song is called Our Wedding Day. A related song, Out of the Window, was collected by Sam Henry, from Eddie Butcher of Magilligan, Northern Ireland, around 1930, and published in Henry's Songs of the People. Another song, I Once Had a True Love, also appears to be related, as it shares some lyrics with She Moved Through the Fair.
The traditional singer Paddy Tunney learned it in County Fermanagh and recorded it in 1965. Other singers who sang it in the 50s/60s were Dominic Behan and Anne Briggs. It was a popular song among members of the Traveler Community in Ireland by that time.
Fairport Convention recorded the song in 1968, adopting the style of the song from the influential traveling singer Margaret Barry, though she herself had learned it from a vinyl recording by Count John McCormack. Also of note are the recordings of the song by Alan Stivell in 1973.