Girl I left behind me


Come all ye handsome, comely maids
That live near Carlow dwelling
Beware of young men’s flattering tongues
When love to you they’re telling
Beware of the kind words they say
Be wise and do not mind them
For if they were talking till they die
They’d leave you all behind them

A fine young lass, a lass I own
But Carlow could not bind me
And now I grieve my native home
And the Girl I left behind me

In Carlow town I lived, I own
All free from debt and dangers
Till Colonel Reilly listed me
To join the Wicklow Rangers
They dressed me up in scarlet red
And used me very kindly
But still I thought my heart would break
For the girl I left behind me

I was scarcely fourteen years of age
When I was broken-hearted
For I’m in love these two long years
Since from my love I parted
These maidens wonder how I moan
And bid me not to mind him
That he might have more grief than joy
For leaning me behind him

She says,”My love, come home to me
My friends are rich and many
Or else abroad with you I’ll roam
A soldier stout as any
If you’ll not come or let me go
I’ll think you have resigned me”
It broke my heart to answer “No”
To the girl I left behind me

For never shall my true love brave
A life of war and toiling,
And never as a skulking slave
I’ll tread my native soil on.
But someday I’ll return again
If the rebels they don’t find me
And never will I roam again
From the girl I left behind me


The first known printed text of a song with this name appeared in the serial song collection ‘The Charms of Melody’, issue no. 72, printed in Dublin from 1791. Subsequent versions are many and diverse. It was used by the American Army as a marching tune throughout the 19th century, and became the theme tune for George Armstrong Custar’s 7th cavalry. This Carlow version might possibly be associated with Captain Myles Keogh from Carlow who died with Custar at the Little Big Horn.

The tune is also used for the song ‘Dicey Reilly’, and a jig arrangement is used for the song ‘Garryowen’.

Myles_Keogh 3a Gen Bulford 1863

Captain Myles Keogh with General Bulford’s staff – 1863