A series by Eugene Dunphy

Whether located in Ireland, England, Scotland or Wales, any town can be transformed into a tourist trap, provided the songwriter prefixes the town’s name with ‘The Flower of …’ or ‘The Rose of …’. The problem, however, with The Rose of Allandale – for that’s how the placename was spelt in the original song – is that tourists and audiences alike were not sure if ‘Allandale’ was in the highlands of Scotland or in Northumberland. Moreover, the songwriters were quite happy to keep the public guessing.

The words of The Rose of Allandale were written by Charles Jeffreys (1807-1865) (pictured bottom right), a prolific English lyricist who ran a music publishing business at 21 Soho Square, London, and the accompanying melody was composed by his friend Sidney Nelson (1800-1862), a London-based musician.

It seems that they may have completed the final draft of the song in 1831, as a short time later Jeffreys managed to convince ‘Mr Wilson’, a singer from Edinburgh, to sing it in the opera ‘Rob Roy MacGregor’, numerous performances of which were staged in January 1832, at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, London.

The sheet music of the song was published in August of that year, by Leonl Lee, 17 Old Bond Street, and within two years it was available to buy at music shops throughout Britain.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own