Brennan on the Moor
Version 1
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


Information
Lyrics
According to Burl Ives this tune was popular in Ireland, Scotland and America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The first printed appearance of the tune was on broadsides around 1850.

William Brennan was a highwayman in the 18th century. He operated around the Kilworth mountains in County Cork. Brennan was hanged at Cork in 1804. Given these facts Ives has estimated the date of the ballad (at least these words) too early.

There is another version at Brennan on the Moor (2). In Version 2 Brennan is betrayed by a woman and in other versions Brennan was betrayed by one of his comrades.

It's of a fearless highwayman
A story I will tell
His name was William Brennan
And in Ireland he did dwell,
And upon the Libbery mountains
He commenced his wild career,
Where many a wealthy gentleman
Before him shook with fear.

Chorus
Bold and undaunted stood
Bold Brennan on the Moor:
Brennan on the moor,
Brennan on the moor,
Bold and undaunted stood
Bold Brennan on the moor.

A brace of loaded pistols
He did carry night and day,
He never robbed a poor man
All on the King's Highway;
But what he'd taken from the rich,
Like Turpin and Black Bess,
He always did divide
Between the widows in distress.

Chorus

One day he robbed a packman,
And his name was Pedlar Bawn;
They travelled on together
Till the day began to dawn.
The pedlar found his money gone,
Likewise his watch and chain;
He at once encountered Brennan
And he robbed him back again.

Chorus

When Brennan saw the pedlar
Was as good a man as he,
He took him on the highway,
His companion to be;
The pedlar threw away his pack
Without any delay,
And proved a faithful comrade
Until his dying day.

Chorus

One day upon the King's Highway,
As Willie he sat down,
He met the Mayor of Cashel,
Just a mile outside the town.
THe Mayor he knew his features bold:
"O you're my man", said he;
"I think you're William Brennan,
You must come along o' me."

Chorus

But Willie's wife had been to town,
provisions for to buy
And when she saw her Willie,
She began to sob and cry;
he said, "Give me that tenpence!"
As quick as Willie spoke,
She handed him a blunderbuss
From underneath her cloak.

Chorus

Now with this loaded blunderbuss,
The truth I will unfold
He made the Mayor to tremble,
And he robbed him of his gold;
A hundred pounds was offered
For his apprehension there,
But he with horse and saddle,
To the mountains did repair.

Chorus

He lay among the fern all day,
'Twas thick upon the field;
And seven wounds he had received
Before that he would yield;
He was captured and found guilty,
"For robbing on the Kin's highway
You're both condemned to die."

Chorus

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From Folk-Songs, Chanteys and Singing Games
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