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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleBrennan on the moor
Roud No.476
Collected FromUnknown
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative Title
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 5 - Miscellaneous: Williams, A: MS collection No Mi 539
Source SecondaryUnpublished
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

It's of a fearless highwayman a story I will tell,
His name was William Brennan, and in Ireland he did dwell;
Twas on the Limerick mountains he commenced his wild career,
And many a wealthy gentleman before him stood with fear.


Brennan on the moor, Brennan on he moor,
Then so boldly and undaunted stood
Young Brennan on the moor.

Verse 2

A brace of loaded pistols he carried night and day,
He never robbed a poor man upon the King's highway,
But what he'd taken from the rich, Like Turpin and Black Bess,
He always would divide it with a widow in distress.


Verse 3

One night he robbed a packman, his name was Pedlar Brown,
They travelled on together till the day began to dawn,
When the packman found his money gone, likewise his watch and chain,
He at once encountered Brennan and robbed him back again.


Verse 4

When Brennan found the packman was as good a man as he,
He took him on the King's highway his companion for to be,
The pedlar threw away his pack without any more delay,
And proved a faithful comrade unto his dying day.


Verse 5

One day upon the King's highway young Willie he sat down,
He met the Mayor of Cavaltree one mile outside the town,
The Mayor knew his features well - 'I think young man,' says he,
'Your name is William Brennan, you must go along with me.'


Verse 6

Now Brennan's wife being gone to town provisions for to buy,
Soon as she saw her Willie she began to weep and cry,
Said he - 'Give me the ten penny!' As soon as Willie spoke,
She handed him the blunderbuss from underneath her cloak.


Verse 7

Now with this loaded blunderbuss, the truth I will unfold,
He made the Mayor to tremble and robbed him of his gold;
Five hundred pounds were offered for his apprehension there,
And with his horse and saddle to the hills he did repair.


Verse 8

In the County of Tipperary there's a place they call Culmore,
Where Brennan and his comrade they both did suffer sore,
They lay among the fern, which was thick upon the field,
Nine wounds he did receive before either one would yield.


Verse 9

Then Brennan being an outlaw upon the mountains high,
The cavalry and infantry top take him they did try;
He lost his foremost finger which was shot off by a ball,
Then Brennan and his companion were taken after all.


Verse 10

So they were taken prisoner, in irons they were bound,
They were conveyed to Clomel jail, strong walls did them surround,
They were tried and both found guilty and the judge made this reply -
'For robbing on the King's highway you're both condemned to die.'


He laughed them all to scorn until at length, the poet said,
By some false hearted young man he was beastily betrayed.

Verse 11

'Farewell unto my wife, and to my children three,
Likewise my loving father who will shed tears for me,
Likewise my loving mother, who tore her grey locks and cried -
I wish you, William Brennan, in your cradle had died.'
Print Song Lyrics
There is a rough draft of this song and a fair copy in the file at Mi 539. There is also another fair copy, shorter by four verses, on the rear of the Factory girl Mi 563. There are minor textual differences between the two.

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2007.



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