The holland handkerchief, song

Michael McGonigle (James Eoghain), singing in English
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Lyrics

There was a squire lived in this town
He was a man of high renown
He had a daughter and a beauty bright
And the name he called her was his heart’s delight.

Lords and squires a courting her came
But none of them could her favour gain
But there came one of a low degree
And above all young men sure she favoured he.

When her father came to know
That she had loved this young man so
Full fifty miles he sent her away
For to deprive her of her wedding day.

One night as Mary was for bed bound
Just at the loosening of her precious gown
She heard a voice like a deadly sound
Saying come loose the bonds love that have us bound.

Her father’s steed she right well knew
Her mother’s mantle she over her threw
She dressed herself in a rich attire
And she went away with her heart’s desire.

The rode along for a mile or so
They rode a mile and a little more
They rode as fast as the wind could blow
Till he says my darling my head is sore

A Holland handkerchief she then pulled out
And around his head she rolled it about
She kissed his lips and these words she did say
My Willie you’re colder than any clay.

When they came to her father’s hall
Who’s yon who’s yon her old father called
Oh father dear didn’t you send for me
By such a messenger just naming he.

Her father knowing this young man was dead
He pulled the grey hair out of his head
Her mother cried and grieved full sore
While this young man’s darling cried more and more.

‘Twas early early by the break of day
They went to the grave where this young man lay
Although he was for nine months dead
The Holland handkerchief was around his head.

My woe I say to parents still
That put young people against their will
For once they’ll vow and their promise give
They can never return it while they live.

see also   The holland handkerchief / Mary Ann Canny