NORA O’NEAL: American Folksong

I first heard this song on one of my grandmother’s John McCormack records and have thought of it as an Irish song ever since. In fact, it’s become one of my favorites. But it was written by William Shakespeare Hays, the same American who wrote Mollie Darling. Although there seem to be several tunes that have been used with the words over time, and even some variation in the words, you can listen to McCormack’s version of it here, and even sing along if you like.


I’m lonely tonight love without you,
And I sigh for one glance of your eye,
For sure there’s a charm love about you,
Whenever I know you are nigh.

Like the beam of a star when it’s smiling
In the glance which your eye must conceal,
And your voice is so sweet and beguiling
That I love you, sweet Nora O’Neal.


Oh, don’t think that ever I’ll doubt you,
My love I will never conceal;
Oh! I’m lonely tonight, love, without you,
My darling sweet Nora O’Neal.

Nora O'neal sheet music

Oh, the nightingale sings in the wildwood,
As if every note that he knew
Was learned from your sweet voice in childhood
To remind me, sweet Nora, of you.

But I think, love, so often about you,
And you don’t know how happy I feel,
But I’m lonely tonight love with out you
My darling sweet Nora O’Neal.


Oh why should I weep tears of sorrow?
Or why to let hope lose its place?
Won’t I meet you, my darling tomorrow,
And smile on your beautiful face?

Will you meet me? O, say you will meet me
With a kiss at the foot of the lane,
And I’ll promise, whenever you greet me,
That I’ll never be lonely again.


Do you have a favorite traditional song, whether it be Irish or American? I know a lot of them, so see if you can stump me!

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