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The Green Wedding
(Child 221; Roud 93)

Nora Cleary
The Hand, near Miltown Malbay
Recorded in singer’s home, July1976

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Nora Cleary

There was a squire in Edinburgh Town and a squire of a high degree,
He fell courting a comely girl and a comely girl was she.
She got consent from father and mother, from old and young likewise,
And it’s then she said: ‘I am undone', as the tears fell from her eyes.

She wrote her love a letter and sealed it with her right hand,
And told him she was to be wedded to a very rich farmer’s son.
The very first line, he looked over it, he smiled and thus did say:
‘I might deprive him of his bride all on his wedding day.’

He wrote her back an answer and that without delay.
He wrote her back an answer to be sure to be dressed in green.
‘A suit of the same I will put on, your wedding I will see.
‘A suit of the same I will put on, your wedding I’ll prepare.
Oh dearest dear, it's with you I'll wed, in spite of all that's there.’

He looked east and he looked west and all around the land.
He selected a score of fine young men all of a Scottish clan.
They rode on in twos and threes and a single man rode he,
And away they went to the wedding’s house, with his company dressed in green.

‘Oh welcome, and oh welcome, where have you spent the day?'
He laughed at them, he scoffed at them, he smiled and thus did say:
‘They might have been some fairy troops, who rode along this way.’

She filled him a glass of new port wine, he said to the company round:
‘Where replied is the man,’ he said, ‘the man they call him groom?
Where replied is the man,’ he said, ‘who will enjoy the bride?
For another might like her as well as him, and would take her from his side.’

Then out spoke the bachelor, with a voice so loud and clear:
Saying, ‘If it is for fight that you come here, I am the man for thee.’
‘It’s not for fight that I come here, but friendship for to show,
Give me one kiss from your bonny, bonny bride and away from you I’ll go.’

He caught her by the middle so smart, and by the grass-green sleeve,
He marched her out of the wedding house but his company asked no leave.
The drums they beat and her morning sun, most glorious to be seen,
And away he went to Edinburgh Town with his company dressed in green.


“A rare version of the Scots bride abduction ballad, ‘Katherine Jaffray’ (Child 221), Child’s earliest versions date back to 1802. The story provided the inspiration for Sir Walter Scott’s well-known poem ‘Young Lochinvar’. It has turned up in England a few times during the last century and was widely collected in the U.S. and Canada. Apart from the two Clare versions, the only Irish oral sources are Tom Moran of Mohill, County Leitrim and Birmingham singer Mrs Cecelia Costello of Galway parentage. Previously, it seldom turned up in Ireland; Petrie give the tune only under the title ‘The Fairy Troop’ and a version appeared in the ‘Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society’ in 1904, collected from a singer in Belfast who learned it from her parents in Galway.”

Jim Carroll


See also
The Green Wedding sung by Pat MacNamara

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