Down by the Salley Gardens (Irish: Gort na Saileán) is a poem by William Butler Yeats published in The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems in 1889. Yeats indicated in a note that it was "an attempt to reconstruct an old song from three lines imperfectly remembered by an old peasant woman in the village of Ballisodare, Sligo, who often sings them to herself." The "old song" may have been the ballad "The Rambling Boys of Pleasure". Yeats's original title, "An Old Song Re-Sung", reflected this; it first appeared under its present title when it was reprinted in Poems in 1895. The verse was subsequently set to music by Herbert Hughes to the air The Maids of the Mourne Shore in 1909. In the 1920s composer Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) set the text to music. There is also a vocal setting by the poet and composer Ivor Gurney, which was published in 1938; and another by Benjamin Britten published in 1943. The composer John Ireland earlier set the words to an original melody in his cycle "Songs Sacred and Profane', written in 1934.
"Salley" is an anglicisation of the Irish saileach, meaning willow, i.e., a tree of the genus Salix. Willows are known as "salleys", "sallies" or "salley trees" in parts of Ireland.
- Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
- She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
- She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
- But I, being young and foolish, with her did not agree.
- In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
- And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
- She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
- But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.
The song has been part of the repertoire of many singers and groups. Notable recordings include:
- Peter Pears on his 10-inch 78rpm Decca set (LA 30), with piano accompaniment by Benjamin Britten
- Kathleen Ferrier in 1949
- Alfred Deller his album Western Wind (1958)
- Kenneth McKellar on his album The Songs of Ireland (1960)
- Marianne Faithfull on her joint-debut album of folk songs, Come My Way (1965)
- Clannad on their live albums Clannad in Concert (1979) and Clannad Live in Concert (2005), and on the compilation album Celtic Myst (1997)
- James Galway recorded a flute instrumental version which has appeared on several of his albums
- Angelo Branduardi on his album Branduardi canta Yeats (1986)
- Soprano Arleen Auger recorded Benjamin Britten's arrangement on her album Love Songs (1988)
- Male soprano Aris Christofellis accompanied by Theodore Kotepanos on piano, on the album Recital (1989)
- Tomás Mac Eoin, who recorded it with instrumental accompaniment by The Waterboys, released by Mac Eoin as a single in 1989 and also on the 2008 collectors' edition of the Waterboys album Room to Roam
- The Rankin Family on their greatest hits album Collection (1996)
- Maura O'Connell on her album Wandering Home (1997)
- Tamalin, who recorded an Irish language version of the song on the 1997 compilation album Now and in a Time to Be, a collection of Yeats' poems set to music
- Dolores Keane, in a recording used during the end credits to the 1998 film Dancing at Lughnasa
- Órla Fallon of Celtic Woman on her solo CD The Water is Wide (2000)
- Andreas Scholl on the CD Wayfaring Stranger (2001)
- Kathy Kelly on her album Straight from My Heart (2002)
- Redbird on the album Redbird by Jeffrey Foucault, Kris Delmhorst, and Peter Mulvey (2005) 
- Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, also from Celtic Woman, sung it on her solo CD Celtic Journey (2006)
- The Whiffenpoofs have released a number of recordings with additional verses of a John Kelley arrangement of the Hughes melody
- Soprano Sissel Kyrkjebø on her album Into Paradise (2006)
- Black 47 on 40 Shades of Blue
- Cambridge Singers in an arrangement by John Rutter
- Tangerine Dream, who recorded an instrumental version for their Choice EP (2008)
(Judith Owen) who performed the song as part of Richard Thompson's "1000 Years of Popular Music" in a live DVD (2008)
- ^ Quoted in M.H Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt eds., The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 2. New York: W.W. Norton, 2005. p. 2024.
- ^ Wilgus, D.K. (Apr. - Jun., 1979). ""Rose Connoley": An Irish Ballad". The Journal of American Folklore (American Folklore Society) 92 (364): 172–195. http://www.jstor.org/stable/539387.
- ^ Ford, Robert, W.B.Yeats: A Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 69
- ^ Jezic, D. P. (1988). Women composers: The lost tradition found (2nd ed., pp. 157-162). New York: The Feminist Press.
- ^ http://www.hiberno-english.com/body.php?id=1484
- ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redbird_%28Redbird_album%29