John Reilly the Fisherman

Another great recording of a new song (to me) and a new singer (to me).  Thanks to the singer, Cathal O’Neill, and the Irish Traditional Music Archives. (Jump to :49 to start the singing.)

John Reilly the Fisherman

One evening fair to take the air alone I chanced to stray
Down by a silvery winding stream that ran along the way
I overheard a maid complain as the tears fell from her eyes,
Saying, “My love is on the ocean wide bound for America.”

“John Reilly was my true love’s name, he lived near the town of Bray.
He was as fine a young man as ever you did see,
My father he had riches, while Reilly he was poor,
But because he was a fisherman they could not him endure.”

Her mother took her by the hand and this to her did say,
“If you be fond of Reilly, you must shun his company.
Here is one hundred pounds in gold and it can all be used.
Send Reilly to America and you can follow, too.”

When Eileen got the money to Reilly she did run,
Saying, “This very night to take your life my father charged his gun,
Here is one hundred pounds in gold my mother sent to you,
So you sail for America and I will follow you.”

It was early then next morning that young Reilly he sailed away,
But before he’d put his foot on board these words he then did say,
“Here is a token of true love and we’ll break it now in two,
Here is a ring and half my heart until I find out you.”

It was three or four months after she was walking down by the quay,
When Reilly he came back again for to take his love away.
The ship was wrecked, all hands were lost and her father grieved full sore,
He found Reilly in her arms and both drownded on the shore.

He found a letter on her breast and it was wrote with with blood,
Saying, “Cruel was my father who thought he would shoot my love.”
Let this now be a warning to all young maidens gay,
For to never let the lads they love sail to America.


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