MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Willie Riley
Jack Knight NFLD 1 Tape 13A Track 2
Pouch Cove Audio:
Ballad / lovers separated, shipwreck

As I rode out one evening down by a riverside
I heard a girl complaining as the tears rolled in her eyes
This is a dark and a stormy night those words to me did say
"My love is on the raging seas bound for Americay

"Willie Reilly is my true love's name his age is scarce eighteen
He is so nice a young man as ever you have seen
My father he is rich and great but Reilly he is poor
Because I love a fisherman he would not me endure

"Willie Reilly is my true love's name he lives near the town of Bray
My mother took me by the hand those words to me did say."
"If you'll be fond of Reilly you must quit this country
Your father swears his life he'll take so shun his company."

"Oh mother dear don't be severe where shall I send my love?
My very heart beats in his breast as constant as a dove."
"Oh, daughter dear I'm not severe here is five thousand pounds
Send Reilly to America and purchase there some ground."

It was not three weeks later and standing by the shore
And Reilly he came back again to take his love on board
The ship was wrecked all hands were lost her father grief foreswore.
To see Reilly in her arms they were drowned by the shore.

They found a letter in her breast and it was wrote with blood.
Saying, "Cruel was my father he thought to shoot my love.
Let this now be a warning to all fair girls like me
Don't never let the lad you love sail to Americay."


Sources: Mercer 196; Laws M10; Leach 328; Greenleaf 184; Karpeles 163; Peacock 698; Fowke 1973: 156; Creighton MFS 102: FSNB, 133; Henry 234; Roud 538. This is not the same as the other WIllie Reilly collected in Pouch Cove, although they could both be understood as possible "sequels" to "William Reilly's Courtship." This is the same basic text as one "John O'Reilly" collected by Leach from Mike Kent of Cape Broyle.

History: A mid-19 th century broadside ballad, related to some versions of John Riley," "George Riley," and "The Mantle so Green." "Reilly" is sometimes spelled "Riley" in the transcripts.

Text notes:A young couple want to marry but her parents oppose their union. Her father vows to kill the young man and so her mother gives the daughter money for him to go to America. He comes back for her but both are drowned in a shipwreck.

Tune notes: Like most variants of this song, the tune is abba. Here the metre is 6/8 and the tonality is major.

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