MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Willie Riley
Will Sutton NFLD 2 Tape 4 Track 5
Trepassey Audio:

Leach: Everything's ready; let her go.
Sutton (sings):

"Oh, rise up Willie Riley and come along with me
I mean to go 'long with you and leave this country
To leave my father’s dwelling house, his houses and free land."
And away went Willie Riley and his dear colleen lass.

They go by hills and mountains and by yon lonesome plain
Through shady groves and valleys, all danger to refrain
Our father followed after with a well-armed band
And taken was Poor Riley and his dear Colleen Bawn

It's home then she was taken and in her closet bound
Poor Riley in Sligo gaol lay on the stony ground
Till at the bar of justice before the judge he stand
For nothing but the stealing of his dear Colleen Bawn

It's in the cold cold irons my hands and feet were bound
I’m handcuffed like a murderer and tied unto the ground
But all the tills and slavering I’m willing for to stand
Still hoping to be succeeded by my dear Colleen Bawn

The jailor son to Riley go and this to him did say
Oh get up Willie Riley you must appear this day
For ... go your

(Speaks) Oh my god

Grat squire father's anger you never can withstand
I’m afraid you’ll surfer sorely for your dear Colleen Bawn

Oh Willie dressed from top to toe all in a suit of green
His hair hung over his shoulders most glorious to be seen
He's tall and straight and complete as any can be found
He's fit for Follard’s daughter were she heiress to the crown

It is the news young Riley last night that l did hear
The lady's oath will hang you or else will stretch you clear
If that be so said Riley with pleasure l will stand
Still hoping to be succeeded by my dear Collen Bawn

The judge he said this lady being in her tender youth
If Riley had deluded her she will declare the truth
Then like a moving beauty bright before him she did stand
You're welcome here my heart's delight and dear Colleen Bawn

Oh gentlemen Squire Follard said with pity look on me
This villain came amongst us to disgrace our family
And by his base contrivance this villain he did plan
If l don't get satisfaction I’ll leave this parish land

The lady with a tear began and this replied she
The fault is none of Riley's the blame lies all on me
I forced him for to leave his place and come along with me
I love him out of measure, which wrought our destiny

Out spoke the noble fox at the table he stood by
Oh gentlemen consider on this extremity
To hang a man for love it' s murder you must see.
So spare the life of Riley let him leave this counteree

Oh good my Lord he stole from her her diamonds and her rings
Gold watch and silver buckles and many precious things
Which cost me in bright guineas more than 500 pounds
I’ll have the life of Riley should l lose 10, 000 pounds.

Oh good my lord l gave them to him as a token of true love
And when we are departing we will now all them remove
If you have got them Riley pray send them home to me
I will my loving lady with many thanks to thee

They are a ring among them I’ll allow yourself to wear
With 30 locket diamonds with _____________ [noise on tape]
_________ oath has cleared him as the jury all may know
She have released her own true love she have renewed his name
May her bright _______ an offsprings right (??????)


Notes


Sources: Laws M10; Greenleaf, 1968: 184; Leach, 1965: 328; Belden, 289-290; Randolph, 115; BrownII, 128; Brewster, 50; Creighton-NovaScotia, 74; O'Connor, 86; Meredith/Anderson, 31-32; Huntington-Whalemen, 224-225; Roud #538

History: Earliest date found before 1829 (broadside, Bodleian 2806 b.11(51));   Variants found in the upper United States, Atlantic Provinces in Canada, England, Ireland, Jamaica, and Australia.

Text: Willie Riley is charged with kidnapping Colleen Bawn, his true love, and is threatened with the death sentence.   Colleen speaks of her love for Willie at the court hearing, stating that it was she who wanted to run away, not Willie.   The jury accepts her statement, Willie is freed and the two lovers are re-united.

Tune : A classic arch-shaped ABBA from with the conventional 'b' section in a higher range.   This performance is rhythmically flexible but it is fundamentally a quadruple tune.   The key is major.

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.