Riley The Fisherman (The Moonshiners) video

See also: John O'Reilly (MacEdward Leach)
#2268: YouTube video by SonOfLabrador
©2013 ~ Used with permission.

As I rode out one evening
down by a riverside,
I heard a fair maid complain,
as the tears stood in her eyes:
Oh, this is a dark and a stormy night,
those words I heard her say,
My true love is on the raging sea
bound to Americay.

My love he was a fisherman,
his age was scarce eighteen,
He was one of the finest young men
that ever yet was seen;
My parents they had riches great,
and Riley he'd been poor,
Because I loved a fisherman,
it was me they couldn't adore.

My momma she took me by the hand one day,
those weary words did say:
Here is one thousand pounds of gold,
it'll set you on your way;
Here is one thousand pounds of gold,
to your true love from me,
So take it to your true love
and sail to Americay.

Oh, Momma dear, don't be severe,
where will I send my love?
For my heart lies in his bosom
as constant as a dove;
Oh, daughter dear, I am not severe,
here is one thousand pounds,
When you sail to Americay,
go purchase there some ground.

'Twas less than three months after,
while walking down the quay,
Riley, turning home again,
he stole his love away;
The ship was wrecked, all hands were lost,
and her father grieved so sore,
To see Riley in his true love's arms,
a-drifting on the shore.

Now in her bosom a note was found,
the same was wrote with blood:
It was my cruel old father
who thought to shoot my love;
Now this may be a warning
to all fair maids I pray:
Don't ever let the lad you love
sail to Americay.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a mid-19th century British broadside ballad, Riley The Fisherman [Laws M8] American Balladry From British Broadsides, p.263 (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of a 19th century British broadside ballad, Riley The Fisherman, published by A. Ryle and Co. (London) between 1845 and 1859, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 17(257b) ....####
This variant arranged and recorded by The Moonshiners of St Anthony, NL (Music From The Heart, trk#4, 1991 Cassette, Recorded at Sim's Studio, Belleoram, NL).

See more songs by Moonshiners .

A variant was sung as John O'Reilly by Michael A (Mike) Kent [1904-1997] of Cape Broyle, NL, and sung as Willie Reilly by John (Jack) Knight [1883-1975] of Shoe Cove, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A very similar variant was collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1952 from Philip J Foley [1905-1982] of Tilting, NL, and published as O'Reilly The Fisherman in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 3, pp.698-700, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that this beautiful Irish ballad has appeared in many English and American broadsides and books, but he doubted that any of them surpass the Newfoundland variant he had collected.

A variant was also collected in 1976 from Gerald Campbell [1933-?] of Branch, NL, Placentia and St Mary's District, by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best and published as #84 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.149-150, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press © 1985/2003).

See more songs by Lehr and Best


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