#01604
The Murder Of Ann O'Brien (Kenneth Peacock)
See also: Ann O'Brien (MacEdward Leach)

You young and old I pray make bold,
I wish you would draw near,
It is so true a story
as ever you did hear,
Concerning of a fair one,
her age was scarce sixteen,
Her beauty bright gave me delight,
'twas open to be seen.

I courted her in private,
I courted her awhile,
I courted her both day and night
till I got her with child,
And how to take her precious life,
I act a scheme was wild,
I said, "Dear Ann, If you'll consent
to Lumsford town we'll go,
It's there we will get married,
I'm sure no one will know."

'Twas late that night we both set out
to cross the country,
'Twould bring the tears down from your eyes
what Ann had said to me.
And when we got about mid way,
I made her this reply,
Saying, "Ann, you'll go no further,
it's here you've got to die."

"Oh, Jim, think on your infant young
and don't give me a fright,
And don't commit any murder
this dark and stormy night;
I'll pray to God, here on my knees,
if you'll spare me my life,
I'll never come here to trouble you
nor ask to be your wife."

For all of her crying it was in vain
for I struck her full sore,
With a heavy-loaded weapon
I laid her in her gore;
Her blood and brains did stain the ground,
Her groans would pierce your heart,
And when I had her murdered,
'twas from her I did part.

She was alive the next morning,
just by the dawn of day,
When a shepherd's only daughter,
by chance, did come that way;
She saw her in her bleeding gore
and went to her relief,
She told her of the guilty one
and sent for the police.

The doctors and policemen were all sent for
and jurymen likewise,
They all got information
and walked out in disguise;
So quickly they surrounded me
and soon were on my trail,
A prisoner I was taken
and lodged in Lumsford jail.

It's here I lies in prison
until my trial day,
The judge he passed my sentence
that I should die today,
For murdering of young Ann O'Brien,
the country girls go see,
On the eighteenth day of April,
I'll swing on the gallows-tree."

Come all young men and maidens,
a warning take by me,
Don't never murder your own true love,
you'll die a death like me,
You'll die a public scandal
all on the gallows-tree.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a British broadside ballad, James MacDonald, Who Was Executed In Longford For The Murder Of Anne O'Brien [Laws P38] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of a 19th-century Irish broadside ballad, James M'Donald Who Was Executed In Longford For The Murder Of Anne O'Brien, published by W Birmingham (Dublin) c.1867, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: 2806 c.15(230) ....####

Collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1958 from Mrs Thomas (Annie) Walters [1896-1986] of Rocky Harbour, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 2, pp.622-623, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that the second line of verse 5, missing in this version, was taken from another variant by Mrs Isaac Freeman (Catherine) Bennett [1908-2006] of St Paul's, NL. Mrs Bennett's last verse is quite different and worth reproducing:

My name is James McDonald,
from life I now must part,
For murdering of young Ann O'Brien
I'm sorry to the heart;
I hope the Lord will pardon me
all on the Judgement Day,
And when I'm on the gallows,
good Christians for me pray.

Kenneth Peacock also noted that Mrs Bennett sang another murder song called Daniel Sullivan whose girl friend back home is also called Ann O'Brien. Daniel is in a Liverpool jail. The text is badly mixed up and is not included in this collection. Peacock added that Helen Hartness Flanders collected a short variant of The Murder Of Ann O'Brien from an Elmer George of East Calais and included it in her Country Songs Of Vermont (Schirmer's American Folk Song Series, Set 19). The ballad is called James MacDonald in Vermont.

A variant was also collected from Theresa White [ca.1934-?] of Port au Port, NL, and published as Ann O'Brien in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA). It was also recorded on MacEdward Leach's album Songs From The Out-Ports Of Newfoundland (Folkways, 1966).


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