Father Tom O’Neill, song

Owen Kelly, singing in English
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Lyrics

There was a widow lived in this place she had three charming sons
Their father dies and left them all when they were very young
For a long time she endeavoured to maintain her charming sons
Till the eldest of them became a man at the age of twenty one

One night he discoursed her mother and these words to her did say
‘I’m afraid it will fall on one of us all to travel far away
Our land is too small to support us all and if you will agree
I am fully bent and I’m well content a clergyman to be’

His mother was glad to hear these words and thoughts came from his mind
She says I’ll do the best I can to help you charming child
She then spoke to his brothers and they soon all agreed
To send him off to college a clergyman for to be

Now he wasn’t long in the college when the Reverend Bishop Brown
Came round to visit his college boys and view them all around
He spied this clever young lad he marked him above them all
He was the first he did discourse when on them he did call

He says young man where are you from come tell to me your name
I’m from the county of Armagh they call me Tom O’Neill
My mother is but a widow and we’re of a poor degree
She has done her best endeavour for to make a priest of me

Now that Tom O’Neill it is your name the Reverence he did say
Go study hard by night and day I’ll soon have you ordained
Read well the books that they give you here and listen well to me
And I’ll send you home a credit for your countrymen to see

Now when this young man came home ordained his neighbours were glad to see
And they all came to welcome him they came in twos and three
Especially his own dear friends to welcome him they run
There never was such a welcome as was for this poor widow’s son

There was a man lived in this place he was as rich as a duke or knight
He had one only daughter and she was a beauty bright
She said unto her father this young man I’m going to see
For before he went to college he was a schoolboy along with me

They were brought into the parlour where they drank ale and wine
She says you are a clever young man I would have you resign
What makes you be a clergyman you know you are astray?
For a clergyman must rise by night and travel far by day

Why not choose some noble lady whose fortune would be great
You could have men to work for you and live on a grand estate
Take me myself as here I stand you know my fortune’s great
I have ten thousand pounds a year till death this whole estate

Hold your tongue my noble lady and do not betray your mind
For if you offered me ten times more I never would resign
It’s in this holy station that I plan to lead my life
My dearest dear stay here no more for I’ll ne’er take you my wife

It was when he did deny her that this villain she went home
It wasn’t eight weeks after that her secret she made known
She swore before a magistrate that he did her beguile
And when he returned from college she was to him with child

On the morning of his trial sure it grieved his heart full sore
For to see his own dear mother it grieved him ten times more
For to see her son a clergyman his age being twenty three
To be brought down in the prime of life by cruel perjury

Father Tom what is the reason you won’t marry this fair maid?
You should think it a great honour such a lady to obtain
I never said I’d marry her or make of her my wife
For I never had a notion to marry in all my life

Now since you will not marry her I’ll give you to understand
Seven years you are transported unto Van Diemen’s Land
It’s very bad it could be worse brave Father Tom did say
But our Saviour suffered more than that when he died on Calvary

These words were hardly spoken when a horse came as swift as wind
On its back a rider saying I hope that I am in time?
I came to call this trial again for it’s me that can deny
She wants two fathers for her son that’s Father Tom and I

I do not recall the moment but it’s well I mind the spot
One thousand pounds she gave to me the night the child was got
Another thousand would be mine if I would not let on
For she wanted to make a husband out of the Reverend Father Tom

Then Father Tom put on his hat and he began to smile
He looked round at his mother saying God has protected your child
They smiled at one another when they heard this perjury
So the villain was found guilty and his reverence came out free