Pat Reilly

It bein’ on a monday morning, it bein’ our pay day
We met Sergeant Jenkins at our goin’ away
He says to Pat Reilly “You are a handsome young man
Will you come to John Kelly’s where we will set a dram”

And while we sat there boozin’ and drinkin’ our dram
He says to Pat Reilly “You are a handsome young man
I’d have you take the bounty and come along with me
To the sweet County Longford, strange faces there you’ll see”

“Oh no kind sir, a soldier’s life with me would not agree
Nor neither would I bind myself down from my liberty
For I lived as happy as a prince, my mind does tell me so
So fare thee well, I’m just goin’ down, my shuttle for to throw?

“Oh are you in a hurry, are you goin’ away?
Or won’t you stop and listen to these words I’m goin’ to say
Perhaps now Pat Reilly, you might do something worse
Than to leave your native country and enlist in the Black Horse”

Oh it’s I took the bounty, the reckoning was paid
The ribbons were brought out, me boys, and into my cockade
It’s early the next morning we all were made to stand
Before our grand general with hats all in our hands

He says to Pat Reilly “You are a little too low
With some other regiment I fear you have to go”
“I may go where I will, I have no-one to mourn
For my mother is dead, me boys, and never will return”

It’s not in the morning that I sing this song
But it’s in the cold evening as I march alone
With me gun o’er my shoulder I bitterly do weep
When I think of my true love that now lies fast asleep

My blessing on my mother that reared me neat and clean
But bad luck to my father that made me serve the queen
Oh had he been an honest man and learned to me my trade
I would never have enlisted nor worn the cockade


“Pat Reilly” is another anti-recruiting song, about “a silver-tongued sergeant who meets a callow youth, inveigles him into a public house and offers him the king’s shilling”. It is listed as entry H574 in Sam Henry’s collection, Songs of the People which is the mostly likely source of Andy Irvines version.


One comment

  1. I reckon the correct lyrics are “my shuttle for to throw”, not “shackle” – as in a weaver’s shuttle.


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