The Holland Handkerchief

A wealthy squire lived in this town
He was a man of high renown
He had a daughter of beauty bright
And the name he called her was his heart's delight

And many's the young man to court her came
But none of them could her favor gain
Till there came one of the low degree
And above them all she did fancy he

But when her father he came to know
Their lovely daughter loved this young man so
Over fifty miles he sent her away
All to deprive her of her wedding day

One night as she lay in her bedroom
Her love appeared from out the gloom
He kissed her lips and to her did say
Arise my darling and come away

With this young man she got on behind
And they rode swifter than any wind
They rode on for an hour or more
Till he cried my darling, my head feels sore

A holland handkerchief she then took out
And with it wrapped his aching head about
She kissed his lips and to him did say
My love you are colder than any clay

When they arrived at her father's gate
He cried get down, love the hour is late
Get down, get down love and go to bed
And I'll see this noble horse is groomed and fed

When she arrived at her father's hall,
Who's there, who's there, her own father called
It is I dear father, you sent for me
My love was the messenger was sent by thee

Oh no my daughter, that ne'er can be
Your words are false and you lie to me
For on yon far mountain your true love lies
And in yon green graveyard his body lies

The truth then dawned on this maiden brave
And with her friends she exposed the grave
Where lay her love although nine months dead
With a holland handkerchief around his head

Traditional Irish
From the CD, If Ever I Return, by Connie Dover © Taylor Park Music/Connie Dover

I learned "The Holland Handkerchief", considered to be one of the "big ballads," from the great singer, Cathal McConnell, of County Fermanagh, Ireland. Holland, as referred to here, is plain woven linen fabric.

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