Patrick Riley (2)

My name is Patrick Riley, the truth I will make known,
And I was born near Clonis, in the County of Tyrone;
My parents reared me tenderly, they had no child but me,
And with them I lived contented till the age of twenty-three.

It was then I took a notion to cross the raging sea,
In search of some promotion unto America;
To seek employment in that land, a fortune to obtain,
And when I had secured it, to return straight home again.

Alas, I had a sweetheart, Jane Wilson was her name,
And when she heard I was going away, straightway to me she came,
And she said, “Can it be possible that you will prove so unkind,
As to go away and leave me broken-hearted here behind?”

“Dear Jane,” said I, “be not afraid; it’s you I do adore,
My daily thoughts will be of you while on Columbia’s shore,
And when I do return again, if God spares me my life,
Here is my hand in promise that I’ll make you my wife.”

With this she seemed quite reconciled and home straightway she went,
And down to Justice Harrington the very next day she went,
And she swore I had ill-used her, had treated her shamefully,
I had robbed her of her virgin bloom which proved her destiny.

I soon was apprehended, as you may understand,
And they marched me off to Liffey jail at the Magistrate’s command;
It’s there I lay in irons until my trial day,
Oh, little did I ever think she’d swear my life away.

On the twenty-first day of July my trial it came on,
This maid, being void of Scripture, before the judge did stand,
And she swore I had waylaid her and robbed her of five pound,
And tried to force her in a pool where she soon would have been drowned.

The judge then charged the jury with words that were severe,
Saying, “This maid must now be rightified for all she’s had to bear.”
The jury gave their verdict, aloud the judge did cry,
“For your cruelty unto this maid, young Riley, you must die.”

When I received my sentence my eyes with tears did flow,
The thoughts of leaving my mother in sorrow, grief and woe;
She being so far advanced in years and had no child but me,
How could she bear to see me hang upon the gallows tree?

And now as I’m about to meet my God, all on this very day,
I never injured that fair false one that swore my life away;
The time is fast approaching, I have no more to say,
May the Lord receive my soul with joy; good people, for me pray.

Gordon, Robert Winslow, 1888-1961
Date Recorded: 
September, 1924
Track Duration (h:m:s): 
Original Medium: 
wax cylinder
American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
Call Number/Physical Location: 
AFS 19011A: G91 Misc 153

One of two fragments of this song recorded by Gordon from Dean.


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