MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Pat O'Brien
Performed by John Kehoe Accession # 78-054 NFLD 1 Tape 2A Track 5
Community: Flatrock Audio:
Genre: Ballad / Seduction-murder  


Come all you good people wherever you may be
I hope you'll pay attention and listen unto me
'Tis all about two lovers, was scarcely in their bloom
When one of them was murdered and the other hung last June

'Twas near the town of Sligo where their parents they did dwell
They had one only daughter and indeed they loved her well
Pat O'Brien was this man's name ship's carpenter by trade
Day and night he took delight in courting this fair maid

Until he gained her virgin bloom which proved his overthrow
And bad advice and jealousy caused him for to do so
He wrote his love a letter and unto her did say
I have been working all this week, working night and day

I like it will be your company this evening in the grove
This fair one she got ready for to let no one know
She dressed herself in private and over there she go
When he saw her coming he ran himself to hide

"Oh Paddy, my love Paddy, what makes you look so pale?"
"I don't want none of your talk, kneel down pray to your grave
I swore an oath this evening, no woman shall I deceive."
He caught her by the yellow locks and pulled her to the ground
With a knife he pressed her, gave her a deadly wound

With a spade he dug her grave and then dashed out her brains
That very same night unto her mother's room she appeared
Her mother she rose up to her with neither dread nor fear

Saying, "Mother, dearest mother, you won't see me anymore
For Pat O'Brien have murdered me and left me in my gore
Go straight unto John Keating's grove and there don't make delay
'Tis there you'll find my body buried over in the clay

And on a rock my blood is spilt where he have murdered me
And go and have him taken, for hung he'll surely be."
A large crowd assembled on that very night

They all walked around her near about that place
Pat O'Brien knelt over her she dashed blood in her face
This young man was taken put in a dismal cell
The sight of his situation he really couldn't tell

They spoke of his execution, he stood upon the dock
He spoke those words so feebly, he made the people shock
"I'll tell ye judge and jurymen and all a-standing by
'Twas I that murdered Nancy Ryan, I'm willing for to die."


Sources:   cf. Peacock 159 ("Pat O'Reilly"); Laws P39; Roud 1919.

History: Variants are American.

Text notes: A seduction and murder ballad. The girl's ghost tells her mother of the crime. Pat is apprehended and hung.

Tune notes: Phrase repetition pattern is: abaab'

All material on this webpage is copyright © 2004, Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland. No unauthorized copying or use is permitted. For more information, follow this link.