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 Songs to Sing:


All the Pretty Little Horses - a soft and repetitious lullaby, quite pretty


Colorado Trail Song - an American tune written by a real cowboy


Come By the Hills - another popular Irish melody


Down By the Salley Gardens - a famous and pretty song, very sweet 


Green Bushes - a brisk little song that is pretty while being good for breath control training


Grenadier and the Lady - my favorite folk song of all.  Find out why


Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier - very beautiful, very moving, and a chance for your young singer to learn how to let her voice soar


Keegan's Waltz - this is a traditional Gaelic tune, but the lyrics are very new, supplied by a visitor to this site!


Lavender's Blue - this simple song is not only satisfying for beginning pianists, but also young singers who need to focus on basics.  With a lovely piano accompaniment.


Loch Lomond - the famous and sad song about never meeting again


Mari's Wedding - a singable tune with bouncy chords that is fun to play or sing


Minstrel Boy - a lovely and patriotic song about a warrior-poet


Molly Bawn - a sad story of a young hunter who thought he was shooting at a swan


Once I Had a Sweetheart - "but now I have none!" Very pretty, and little-known.


Parting Glass - a well-known Irish tune which my singers always love


Scarborough Fair - an old and famous tune of lost love


She Moved Through the Fair - this sounds happy, but it is actually a bit of a love story, and a bit of a ghost story!


Shenandoah - a famous and lovely American tune with ambiguous lyrics


Skye Boat Song - a pretty song from Scotland about the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie over the sea


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


The Spanish Lady - Upbeat and energetic, this Irish 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








Interested in songs from the Bible for your students or church?  Check out my other website, SingTheBibleStory.com!

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About the Author

Dana Thynes

Hi, I'm Dana!  (Say that like "Anna".)  I'm the owner of Music-for-Music-Teachers.com, and a newer site, SingTheBibleStory.com.

Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and have added a few other instruments along the way, plus an interest in arranging and composing music.

You can find out more about me and the reason for this website at my About Me page.