From the recording Timber And Stream
Sonya Baughman: vocals, recorder
Mark Clavey: vocals, guitar
Mary Hanover: lead vocals, tinwhistle
This is a song found on both sides of the Atlantic. The American "Factory Girl" is a labor protest song about a girl, her life driven by the factory bell, resolved to leave the factory, go home, marry, and live a freer life. Alan Greenway, in his collection "American Folksongs of Protest", attributes "The Lowell Factory Girl" (c.1840) as the origin of the American variations. Our "Factory Girl" is a love song from "Songs of the People", Sam Henry's collection of songs from the north of Ireland.
As I once was walking one fine summer's morning, the birds in the branches so sweetly did sing. The lads and the lasses together were sporting, going down to the factory their work to begin. I spied one amongst them more fairer than any - her cheeks like the red rose that none could excel, her skin like the lily that blooms in yon valley… and she but a hard-working factory girl.
I stepped up beside her to view her more closely, when on me she cast such a look of disdain. "Oh young man have manners and do not insult me, for although I'm a poor girl I think it no shame." "It's not for to scorn you, fair maid I adore you. Come grant me one favor, say where do you dwell?" "Kind sir, you'll excuse me, for now I must leave you for yonder's the sound of my factory bell."
"I have lands and fine houses adorned with ivy. I've gold in my pocket and silver as well. And if you'll go with me, it's a lady I'll make you, and no more may you heed your factory bell." "Oh love and temptation are our ruination. Go find you a lady and may you do well. For I am an orphan with ne'er a relation, and besides, I'm a hard working factory girl."
With these words she turned, and with less she has left me, and it's all for her sake I'll go wander a while. And in some deep valley, where no one shall know me, I shall mourn for the sake of my factory girl.