William (Willie) Riley (Riley's Trial) [Laws M10]
DESCRIPTION: Riley and his sweetheart flee from her father, but are overtaken. Riley is jailed; the father asks that he be executed or transported. Colleen pleads for and wins his freedom instead. (Riley leaves the country, wearing the girl's ring for remembrance)
EARLIEST DATE: before 1829 (broadside, Bodleian 2806 b.11(51))
KEYWORDS: courting prison reprieve emigration elopement
FOUND IN: US(MA,MW,SE,So) Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(England,Scotland(Aber)) Ireland West Indies(Jamaica) Australia
REFERENCES (31 citations):
Laws M10, "William (Willie) Riley (Riley's Trial)"
Greig #143, p. 1, "Willie Reilly" (1 text)
GreigDuncan6 1097, "Willie Reilly" (4 texts, 2 tunes)
Belden, pp. 289-290, "William Riley" (1 text)
Randolph 115, "Willie Riley" (1 short text plus an excerpt, 1 tune)
BrownII 128, "William Riley" (1 text)
BrownSchinhanIV 128, "William RIley" (2 excerpts, 2 tunes)
Brewster 50, "William Reilly" (1 text)
Lomax-Singing, pp. 166-168, "Willy Reilly" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greenleaf/Mansfield 91, "Willy Reilly" (1 text, 1 tune)
Leach-Labrador 137, "Willie Riley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-NovaScotia 74, "Courtship of Willie Riley" (1 very long text, 1 tune)
Leach, pp. 741-743, "Willie Riley" (2 texts)
FSCatskills 53, "Fair Julian Bond" (1 text, 1 tune. The opening of this ballad clearly resembles Laws M9, but the conclusion is closer to M10. The fragmentary state of the text may indicate a conflate version)
Carey-MarylandFolkLegends, pp. 105-109, "William Riley" (1 text, very long, which appears to combine "William Riley's Courtship" [Laws M9] and William (Willie) Riley (Riley's Trial)" [Laws M10])
Munnelly/Deasy-Lenihan 8, "Willie Reilly and his Cailin Ban" (1 text, 1 tune)
Tunney-StoneFiddle, pp. 40-42, "Willie Reilly and His Dear Colleen Ban" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hayward-Ulster, pp. 99-102, "The Trial of Willy Reilly" (1 text)
O'Conor, p. 86, "Willy Reilly" (1 text)
Meredith/Anderson, pp. 31-32, "Willie Riley" (1 text, tune referenced)
SHenry H234, pp. 436-437, "Willy Reilly" (1 text, 1 tune)
JHCox 101, "William Reilly" (1 text)
Huntington-Whalemen, pp. 224-225, "Reily's Jailed" (1 text, 1 tune, s very short version placed here on the basis of its first stanza)
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #1989, p. 134, "Reily's Releasement and Marriage with Cooleen Bawn" (2 references, presumably to this song although perhaps rewritten); #1990, P. 134, "Reily's Trial" (1 reference)
cf. Gardner/Chickering, pp. 482-483, "William Reily's Courtship," "Reily's Trial," "Reily's Answer, Releasement, and Marriage with Coolen Bawn" (sic.) (source notes only)
DT 577, RILTRIAL
ADDITIONAL: Mary O Eddy, "William Reily's Courtship: A Nineteenth Century Broadside" in Midwest Folklore, Vol. II, No. 2 (Summer 1952 (available online by JSTOR)), pp. 113-118, "William Reily's Courtship, Trial, Answer, Releasement, and Marriage With His Fair Coolen Bawn" (1 text)
Charles Gavan Duffy, editor, The Ballad Poetry of Ireland (1845), pp. 244-247, "Willy Reilly"
Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), pp. 302-304, "Willy Reilly" (1 text)
H. Halliday Sparling, Irish Minstrelsy (London, 1888), pp. 382-384, 516, "Willy Reilly"
Martha W Beckwith, "The English Ballad in Jamaica: a Note Upon the Origin of the Ballad Form" in _Publications of the Modern Language Association_ [PMLA], Vol. XXXIXI, No. 2 (Jun 1924 (available online by JSTOR)), #6 pp. 476-477, "Sweet Riley" (1 text)
ST LM10 (Full)
Tom Lenihan, "Willie Reilly and his Cailin Ban" (on IRTLenihan01)
Raymond Noseworthy, "Willie Riley" (on MUNFLA/Leach)
Will Sutton, "Willie Riley" (on MUNFLA/Leach)
Bodleian, 2806 b.11(51), "Riley and Colinband," T. Batchelar (London), 1817-1828; also Firth b.27(138), Harding B 16(228b), Harding B 25(1626)[many words illegible], "Riley and Colinband"; 2806 b.11(52), Johnson Ballads 2976, "William Riley and Colinband"; Harding B 11(1852), "Riley and Colinban"; Harding B 28(190)[some words illegible or lost], "Riley and Collinband"
LOCSinging, sb40465a, "Reily's Courtship", H. De Marsan (New York), 1861-1864) [This is part 1];, sb40464b, "Reily's Releasement and Marriage with Cooleen Bawn", H. De Marsan (New York), 1861-1864 [This is part 2]
cf. "Lady Elspat" [Child 247] (plot)
cf. "William Riley's Courtship" [Laws M9]
cf. "Mary Acklin (The Squire's Young Daughter)" [Laws M16] (plot)
cf. "Mary Neal" [Laws M17] (tune)
cf. "Nancy's Complaint in Bedlam" (theme of a maid in Bedlam)
cf. "Locks and Bolts" [Laws M13] (theme: girl locked away by father) and references there
The Colleen Bawn
NOTES: Meredith/Anderson states that this song is based on an incident which took place in Donegal around 1745. Reilly, a Catholic, eloped with the protestant daughter of Squire Folliard -- an illegal match at the time. See Laws, who quotes the relevant details from Joyce.
Laws, following Cox, considers the three William Riley ballads (William Riley's Courtship [Laws M9], this one, and "Reilly's Answer, Releasement, and Marriage with Coleen Bawn" -- the last not found in tradition, but published by Will Carleton in 1855) to be a set of songs about the same character. The songs overlap, however, and may be the result of separate composition, with either M9 or M10 inspiring the other two. - RBW
All of the Bodleian broadsides corrupt what O'Conor, at least, has as "Colleen Bawn." O'Conor does not explain his sources.
Charles Gavan Duffy, The Ballad Poetry of Ireland, 1845, pp. 244-247, has this as "Willy Reilly" and translates "Coolen Bawn" as "fair young girl." - BS
Laws considers Creighton-NovaScotia 74 to be both M9 and M10. This 78 verse version is divided by Creighton into "Riley's Courtship" (26 verses: meets Laws' description of M9), "Trial" (20 verses: meets Laws' description of M10), "Marriage" (32 verses: meets Laws' description "which has not, so far as I know," says Laws, "been recorded from tradition, Riley is sentenced to be transported and is freed through his own petition to the Lord Lieutenant in time to rescue the girl from Bedlam and marry her." What am I missing? As I've noted, Creighton-NovaScotia 74, is one of Laws' sources for M9 and M10: why didn't he consider it for the "not ... recorded" Mx?).
Sparling, 1888: "The story on which this ballad is founded happened some eighty years ago; and as the lover was a Catholic farmer, and the lady's family of high Orange principles, it got a part character, which, no doubt, contributed to its great popularity." "Carleton has made it the foundation of a novel of the same name."
Munnelly/Deasy-Lenihan: "William Carlton's novel on Willie Reilly and his Cailin Ban first appeared in 1855 and was a best seller for years." [Though the Barnhart/Halsey New Century Handbook of English Literature (revised edition, Appleton.Century/Crofts, 1967) does not list it among the major works of Carleton (1794-1869). Neither is it mentioned in Patrick C. Power's A Literary History of Ireland, which (p. 149) instead regards his most important work as the 1830-1833 collection Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry. - RBW]
H. De Marsan dating per Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS
Last updated in version 4.2
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.