“Nancy, the Pride of the West”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1901 (OConor); we have a parody before 1820 (broadside, Bodleian Firth c.18(188))
Keywords: beauty nonballad
Found in: Ireland


"We have dark lovely looks on the shores where the Spanish From their gay ships came gallantly forth...." The singer praises Nancy's beauty, her sighs, her laugh, her everything, and says that she holds a thousand in thrall


It gives me a certain amount of pleasure to note that this odious piece probably isn't traditional in origin or, very likely, survival. The evidence of its composed nature comes from several references:

The "shores where the Spanish... came forth": Presumably a reference to the ships of the Spanish Armada, many of which were wrecked in Ireland, generally off the northwest coast (the number is given by David Howarth, _The Voyage of the Armada_, p. 210, as 26). Few of these Spaniards survived long. (There were later instances of Spanish in Ireland, notably at the battle of Kinsale in 1601 -- but Kinsale was in the south, and this is a song about "the pride of the West.")

"The statue the Greek fell in love with": Clearly a reference to Pygmalion and Galatea (Ovid, Metamorphoses, X.254 and following.) - RBW

Bodleian Library site Ballads Catalogue has no copies of "Nancy, the Pride of the West" but has a parody: Bodleian, Firth c.18(188), "Nancy, the Pride of the East," J. Pitts (London), 1802-1819; also Harding B 11(1206), Harding B 15(212b), 2806 c.8(177), Harding B 11(3796), 2806 c.18(217), "Nancy, the Pride of the East."

This Nancy has "eyes ... like rubies so fine" and leaves the East "For Jemmy is the boy I adore ... He is the pride of the North Country" - BS


  1. SHenry H495, pp. 227-228, "Nancy, the Pride of the West" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. O'Conor, p. 150, "Nancy, the Pride of the West" (1 text)
  3. Roud #7977
  4. BI, HHH495