As I went out walking one morning in June,
To view the fair fields and the valleys in bloom,
I spied a pretty fair maid she appeared like a queen
With her costly fine robes and her mantle so green.
Says I, “My pretty fair maid, won’t you come with me
We’ll both join in wedlock, and married we’ll be,
I’ll dress you in fine linen, you’ll appear like a queen,
With your costly fine robes and your mantle so green.”
Says she now, “My Young man, you must be excused,
For I’ll wed with no man, so you must be refused;
To the green woods I will wander and shun all men’s view, .
For the boy that I love dearly lies in famed Waterloo.”
“Well if you are not married, say your lover’s name,
I fought in the battle so I might know the same.”
“Draw near to my garment and there you will see,
His name is embroidered on my mantle so green.”
In the ribbon of her mantle there I did behold
His name and his surname in letters of gold;
Young William O’Reilly appeared in my view
He was my chief comrade back in famed Waterloo.
And as he lay dying I heard his last cry
‘If you were here, Lovely Nancy, I’d be willing to die;’
And as i told her this story, in anguish she flew.
And the more that I told her the paler she grew.
So I smiled on my Nancy, twas I broke your heart,
In your father’s garden that day we did part.
And this is a truth and the truth I declare,
Well here’s your love token, the gold ring I wear.
Irvine learnt the words of “Her Mantle So Green” from a recording of Jim O’Neill from Markethill, County Armagh. It is also listed as entry H76 in Sam Henry’s collection, Songs of the People. In the sleeve notes, Irvine added: “The motif of this song is as old as time: a soldier returning from a long campaign is not recognized by his sweetheart, whose loyalty he briefly tests by pretending to be someone else.”