O’Reilly from the County Leitrim


When first I came unto this country
It was to view the sweet flowers fair
I then fell courting a pretty fair maid
She appeared to me like the queen of May
I asked her kindly if she would marry
Or if she would choose to be a sailor’s wife
‘Oh no kind sir, I’d rather tarry
And I would choose the sweet single life’

‘Oh fairest creature, the pride of nature
Why do you differ from all female kind?
For you are youthful and fair and handsome
And to marry you, I am much inclined’
‘Oh no, kind sir since I must tell you
I am promised these five years or more
To one O’Reilly from the County Leitrim
Which often grieves my poor heart full sore’

‘I wish I had you in Phoenix Island
One hundred miles from your native home
Or in some valley where none could find you
You might incline then to be my own
’tis there I would caress my jewel
If along with me you’d consent to go
I’d sail you over to Pennsylvania
And bid adieu to Reilly for evermore’

‘You do not have me in Phoenix Island
One hundred miles from my native home
Or in some valley where none can find me
I’ll not incline then to be your own
So do not tease me or yet displease me
But along with you I’m not inclined to go
So do sail over to where you came from
For I’ll wait for Reilly forever more”

‘You are like the swan that sails the ocean
And making motions with both its wings
Your snowy bosom would be a potion
For any lord or an Irish king
For you are youthful, fair and handsome
And you are fitting for to be a queen
I wish I were in battle wounded
Before your beautiful face I’d seen’

‘Oh, in the morning when I cannot see you
My heart lies bleeding for you all day
And in the evening I can’t come near you
For them that’s bound, they must obey
For ‘tis youth and folly make young men marry
And it’s here I can no longer stay
What can’t be cured must be endured
So farewell darling, I must away’


Song Clip



Song Themes

Love spurned