MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Willie Riley
Raymond Noseworthy NFLD 1 Tape 13A Track 8
Pouch Cove Audio:
Ballad / lovers separated, reunited; shipwreck Laws M10

"Rise up young Willie Reilly and come along with me
I mean for to go with you and leave this country
I leave my father's dwellings his houses and his land
And I'll go with Willie Reilly I'm his fair Colleen Bawn."

They go by hills and mountains and by yon lonesome streams
Through shady groves and valleys all dangerous to refrain
But her father followed after with a well-armed band
And taken was poor Reilly and his fair Colleen Bawn

It's home then she was taken and in her closet bound
Poor Reilly all in Sligo jail lay on the stony ground
Till at the bar of justice before the judge did stand
For nothing but the stealing of his fair Colleen Bawn

The judge he said, "This lady being in her tender youth
If Reilly he deluded her she will declare the truth."
Then like a spotless angel before them she did stand
"You're welcome here," says Reilly, "my fair young Colleen Bawn."

The judge he said this lady being in her tender youth
Up spoke (speaks) I'm wrong

[…] "this lady being in her tender youth
If Reilly deluded her she will declare the truth."
Then like a spotless angel before them she did stand
"You're welcome here," says Reilly, "my fair young Colleen Bawn."

"So good my Lord he stole from her her diamonds and her rings
Gold watch and silver buckle and many costly things
I gave them to my daughter they cost one thousand pounds
When Reilly was first taken those things with him were found."

"So good my Lord I gave to him in token of true love
He never stole my jewels I swear by all above
If you've got them with you Reilly pray send them home to me."
"I will my generous lady with many thanks," said he.

Up spoke the noble lord, "You may let the prisoner go
The lady has quite cleared him the jury well doth know.
She hath released young Reilly the bill must be withdrawn
Then set at large the lover of the fair young Colleen Bawn."

Up spoke the noble fox then who stood attentive by
"Gentlemen of this jury for justice we reply
To hang a man for love is foul murder you may see
So spare the life of Reilly but banished let him be."

She says, "There's a ring amongst them lad I'll wish you for to wear
It's set with costly diamonds and it's plaited with my hair
It's a token of true love lad wear it on your right hand
That you'll think of a broken heart love when you're in a foreign land


Sources: Mercer 196; Laws M10; Leach 328; Greenleaf 184; Karpeles 163; Peacock 698; Fowke 1973: 156; Creighton MFS 102: FSNB, 133; Roud

History: A mid-19 th century broadside ballad, related to some versions of John Riley," "George Riley," and "The Mantle so Green."

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. (Reilly is sometimes spelled 'Riley' in Leach's transcriptions).

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

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