‘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, AKA Seosamh MacCathmhaoil and Joseph McCahill, among others). 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. 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.
The Lagan referred to in the title is most likely the area of good farming land between Donegal and Derry known in Irish as An Lagán. 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. The song was arranged in a classical style by Hamilton Harty; this was used by Mary O’Hara and Charlotte Church.
‘My Lagan Love’ was recorded with new, original lyrics by Kate Bush, first released in 1985 as the second B-side track to the 12″ version of Cloudbusting. The track was first released on CD as part of the This Woman’s Work Anthology 1978-1990 box set. It was also included in the 1997 ‘EMI Centenary’ re-release of Hounds Of Love.
‘My Lagan Love’ was covered by Dream Tiger.
When rainy nights are soft with tears
And Autumn leaves are falling
I hear his voice on tumbling waves
And no one there to hold me
At evening’s fall he watched me walk
His heart was mine
But my love was young, and felt
The world was not cruel, but kind
Where Lagan’s light fell on the hour
I saw him far below me
Just as the morning calmed the storm
With no one there to hold him
My loves have come, my loves have gone
And nothing’s left to warn me
Save for a voice on the traveling wind
And the glimpse of a face at morning