Come all ye young both great and small, I hope you will draw near,
I'll tell you the truest story that ever you did hear;
I courted a handsome young comely girl, her age was scarce sixteen,
Her beauty bright would me delight till I brought her to shame.
I courted her in private till I with her a child,
She's being a farmer's daughter and I his servant man;
And how to gain her innocent life, I screamed a plan in time,
All in the country of Longford, confined all in her room.
It being on a Sunday's evening, as you may plainly see,
To her I wrote a letter, and soon she came to me;
I said, "Dear Ann, If you will come back, to Longford we will go,
It's there that we will get married, I am sure that no one will know."
The night being dark we both set out to cross the country,
'Twould bring the tears down from your eyes what she had said to me;
And just before I murdered her, I made her this reply,
Saying, "Ann you will go no further for it's here that you must die."
"Oh, James, think on your innocent young and spare to me my life,
And don't you commit a murder this dark and dreary night;
I'll promise to God here on my knees I'll never let no one know,
Or ever come to trouble you or ask to be your wife."
But all she said had proved in vain till I had stab her sore,
'Twas with a loaded weapon I laid her in her gore;
Her blood and brains did stain the ground, her moans would pierce your heart,
And when I thought I murdered her, all from her I did part.
She was alive the next morning just at the break of day,
When a shepherd's only daughter, by chance she strolled that way;
She saw her lying in her gore, she then asked for relief,
And told her of her guilty wounds, and then asked for the priest.
Both priests and doctors were sent for, they found her there likewise,
When they got information, they dressed all in disguise;
They quickly then surrounded him and put him through a drill,
A prisoner he was taken and put in Longford jail.
The judge he passed his sentence and this to him did say,
"For the murdering of young Ann O'Brien,
Your country boy shall see,
On the fourteenth day of April, he'll be hung on the gallows tree."
Oh, James McDonald it is my name, now from life I must part,
For the murdering of young Ann O'Brien I am sorry to my heart;
But I hope that God will pardon me all on my judgement day,
And when I'm standing on this trap good Christians for me pray.
Collected in 1950 from Theresa White [b.ca.1934] of Port au Port, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).
A variant was also collected in 1952 from George Carew of Trepassy, NL, and incorrectly published as Mary Brien in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).
A variant was also recorded on MacEdward Leach's album Songs From The Out-Ports Of Newfoundland (Folkways, 1966).
Another variant was collected in 1958 from Mrs. Thomas (Annie) Walters of Rocky Harbour, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published as The Murder Of Ann O'Brien in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 2, pp.622-623, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.