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When the Battle it was Won
(Laws J23; Roud 1890)
Michael Flanagan
Luogh, Doolin
Recorded in singer's home, August 1974

Carroll Mackenzie Collection


You tender-hearted Christians wherever that you be,
I hope you’ll pay attention and listen unto me.
It’s of an aged parents who had one only son,
He was shot as a deserter when the battle it was won.

He was tall, neat and handsome, his complexion it was fair.
His eyes was of the deepest black and dark brown was his hair.
He stood and gazed upon the crowd and gave a heavy sigh,
Saying only for my mother dear I would not care to die.

The day that I was leaving home my mother she did say,
“It’s the breaking of my heart, my boy to see you go away.
You know you are my darling, my one and only son.
May God restore you back to me when the battle it is won.”

I was scarcely six weeks landed, when walking on the field,
A letter came into my hand and deep black was the seal.
I quickly tore it open, those words did catch my eye,
Saying, "Come home, come home my Willie, come home before I die."

Oh who could slight those dying words of such a mother dear.
Before the dawn next morning, at her bedside I stood near.
She threw her arms round my waist which gave to her great joy.
“I am glad to see you home again my own, my darling boy.”

I had scarcely time to kiss her when an officer appeared,
And turning round to ask the cause an officer appeared.
Saying, “Shoot that cowardly rascal from the battle field he ran,
He’ll be shot as a deserter when the battle it is won.”

I pointed to her bedside saying, “Take care of what you say.
My mother she is dying on her deathbed she lay.
My mother she is dying and I will not leave her so,
Until she does recover, or to her grave did go.”

He called his men around me and took me right away.
He placed me in a lonely cell where many had been before.
He placed me in a lonely cell, he kept me locked all day,
For fear I would contact my love that lived many miles away.

The officer to Mary a-courting her did go.
She said, “You choose your own destruction and proved your overthrow.”
She said, “You shot my Willie and that will be your pride.”
She fired and shot the officer and he fell dead by her side.


“Apart from Michael’s version the only reports of this having been found have been from America and Newfoundland, where it was also known as 'The Deserter'.”
Jim Carroll

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