Down by the Salley Gardens

Down by the Salley Gardens is a pretty English song with poetic words by William Butler Yeats. 

On this page you'll find the piece in seven different keys as lead sheets, and a few different keys for piano as well.

Down by the Salley Gardens for instrumental & vocal musicians

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

Here is a beautiful violin rendition of this piece by Retaw Boyce of Australia:


This song has many slurred notes for the singer: view these as learning opportunities! 

Students need to be able to interpret notes and musical symbols, and it is surprising (to me) how often young singers will be baffled by the slurs in a vocal line. 

I like them to be intelligent music "map readers" against that future day when they will become part of a choir; I want them to be an asset, not a drag on the group!

You never know just how particular students will react to a new song, especially a song as old-fashioned as this one. 

But I actually had a young singer once beg me for "Down by the Salley Gardens" after she had been introduced to it at a summer Fine Arts Camp. 

It just goes to show you that good music is going to be loved, if given a chance.   

Fortunately, I found an arrangement in this Folk Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland, & Wales. There are about 100 songs in this book, including a few I have on this site, often with different melodies or lyrics. 

Is Down by the Sally Gardens a folk song?  Perhaps the tune is, but the words by Yeats are less than 150 years old... however, it FEELS like a folk song!

Steven from Ireland is pretty sure this is NOT an English song, but an Irish tune:

Perhaps I might be wrong here, but the song “The Sally Gardens” is an Irish song, not an English song. It was written in 1889, before Ireland became independent from the United Kingdom. 

It could technically be described as a British song, because at the time, Ireland was being governed from London. 

This would, however, completely ignore the social and cultural background of the country at the time.

Yeats was among those at the forefront of an Irish cultural revival which was taking place at the time. This was a response to 200 years or more of repression of Irish language, music, sport, poetry etc.

There may be many versions of the song recorded by English musicians. This tends to happen with most folk songs. 

Irish, Scottish, American, English folk musicians borrow songs and instrumental pieces from each other. But the origins of a piece should not be lost.

Here is my own piano accompaniment for this lovely song:

Piano accompaniment and lyrics for Down by the Salley Gardens

Vocal & piano arrangement in D of Down by the Sally Gardens

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

If I have time, I'll make more keys available for this piano accompaniment.  

Meantime, here is another lovely rendition of Salley Gardens, this time a vocal version, by Laura Wright:


What is a "salley garden"? A garden full of willows.





The links for the lead sheets:


Download lead sheet Down by the Salley Gardens in the key of A


Download Down by the Salley Gardens in the key of Bb


Download Salley Gardens in the key of C


Download song in the key of D


Download Down by the Sally Gardens in Eb


Download English song in the key of F


Download lead sheet Down by the Sally Gardens in G



The link for the piano accompaniment:


Download piano accompaniment for Salley Gardens in D





More Folk & Traditional Songs

Ae Fond Kiss - not strictly a folk melody, but it is old - and very lovely!

Ash Grove - an elegant melody that sounds more classical than folk, the lyrics are old-fashioned and poignant

Cat Came Back (for early singers) - a fun and silly song that can be pared down to JUST 5 NOTES for kids who have trouble matching pitch, there is much repetition in the melody (good for finding pitches)

Colorado Trail - a genuine cowboy song, just one verse, surprisingly lovely

Down by the Salley Gardens - this pretty song from England is a setting for a poem by William Butler Yeats about trying to hurry love

Erie Canal - a vigorous minor melody that kids like, with lots of repeating phrases

Green Bushes - a fast, light, pretty melody that speaks of false-hearted love, and feels very "English" in both lyrics and chord progressions

Grenadier and the Lady - Number One with me!  So beautiful, somewhat sad. Lots of opportunities for expressive singing.

Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier - Lovely.  Important for breath control and learning to mold a phrase.

Lavender's Blue, a pretty song that is VERY simple to sing!  Perfect for young girls.

Loch Lomond, the most famous song of all from Scotland.  Still beautiful.

Mari's Wedding - lots of energy in this Scottish tune, which sounds great with guitar and fiddle backup

The Minstrel Boy - though rather difficult with its long phrases, this Irish song about the love for one's country is very moving and beautiful

Molly Bawn - So sad, but so IRRESISTIBLE.  Lovely and evocative, and requiring good air support, it is educational as well as being satisfying to the musical soul.

Muss i denn or Abschied (Wooden Heart) - from Germany by way of Elvis, an adorable folk tune!

Once I Had a Sweetheart - another sad, pretty, and image-arousing song, once sung by Joan Baez

Parting Glass - There are many versions of this GREAT Irish melody.  Download mine free, then check out others!

Scarborough Fair - an old favorite from England, still lovely

She Moved Through the Fair - a strange, shifting melody, with almost creepy lyrics that will haunt you

Shenandoah - So pretty, and genuinely American.  Long phrases, good breath control practice.

Skye Boat Song - a singable old Scottish song with a great tune about the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie after the Battle of Culloden

Spanish Ladies - a minor key sea chanty that swings energetically along - boys like singing it too!

The Spanish Lady - Upbeat and energetic, this song is fun to perform with a group.

Star of the County Down - LOTS of fun to sing and play!  An excellent ensemble piece.

Waltzing Matilda - an unusually pretty melody from Australia; you know this one!  Very popular with kids.

The Water is Wide - a very pretty song about disappointed love.  You might have sung this one in high school!

White, Orange and Green - though not widely known, this charming melody about fighting for the right to carry the flag of Ireland has stirring lyrics and soaring phrases. A favorite of my vocal & guitar students.








The Adventures of Tonsta, Volume 1, is a book about a young boy travelling over mountains and fjords from village to village, encountering trolls and helping folk in distress.

The Adventures of Tonsta

A perfect read aloud storybook
for little boys or girls. 

The Adventures of Tonsta highlight the travels of a very young boy with a good heart, who goes about helping folk in trouble.  

With a red cap on his head and a sack of tools slung over his shoulder, Tonsta seems to meet people in distress wherever he goes.

Lots of trolls in this book.

Available at Amazon!





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