MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

Pat O'Reilly

John James NFLD 2 Tape 10 Track 6
Trepassey Audio:

My name is Pat O'Reilly as you may understand
For l was born near cloudy in the country of Tryrol
My parents reared me tenderly having no child but me
Till l became a sporting lad at the age of twenty-t'ree

At length l took a notion for to cross the raging main
In search of some promotion a fortune to obtain
And when l had secured it to return straight home again
At length l had a sweetheart McCormick was her name

When she heard we were for parting straightway to me she came
Saying Pat can this be possible you're going to prove unkind
To leave me broken-hearted in sorrow here behind

Dear Ann l said be not afraid its you l do adore
My dearest t'oughts will be on you while on Columbia's shore
An' if l do return again if God spares me my life
Here is my band in promises l will make you my wife

Wit' this she seemed quite reconciled and home straightway she went
And early the next morning to Captain Pilot came
She swore that I waylaid her and used her barbarously
And robbed her of a purge of gold which proved my destiny(?)

The p' lice they soon surrounded me as you may understand
They marched me off to jail by the magistrates command
Twas there l lay in irons waiting my trial day
Oh little was my notion that she'd swear my life away

The first day of July my trial it came on
This maid bein' right of scripture before the judge did stand
She swore that I waylaid her and used her barbarously
And tried to force her to a pool where she would soon be drowned

The jury gave the verdict how loud the judge did cry
Sayin' this maid she must be rightified for aIl she's got to swear
Your cruel-e-ty to this fair maid young Reilly you must die

When l received the sentence tears from my eyes did flow
T’inking to leave my mother dear in sorrow grief and woe
For she bein' far advanced in years having no child but me
How will she stand to see me die upon a galIis [i.e. gallows] tree


Sources: Peacock 159; Laws P39; Roud 1919.
From the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) Song Index and Song Annotation Collection: Goldstein, Kenneth MUNFLA 78-239; Peacock, Kenneth MUNFLA 71-39/p. 34; Spurvey, Eugene MUNFLA73-180.

Text: Opening formula recounting the composer’s name, place of birth and treatment by his parents. At the age of 23 he decides to work overseas. His sweetheart is upset by the news but calms when he promised to marry her upon his return. The next day she has him arrested, accusing him of robbery, rape and attempted murder. He is found guilty and hanged.

Tune: The text is through composed and the melody is repeated by verse. The final word is spoken. Speaking, instead of singing a final word or phrase is generally thought to indicate Irish influence on the singer or song. A freely performed piece in 4/4 using rubato. The tune is in E major with a major 9th range (A-B).

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