Green Grows the Laurel

Trad. Arr. With new words Christy Moore


There once was a captain who was borne far out to sea

Before he could get married he was sent far away


Across the boundless ocean far away upon the tide

His heart forever breaking for the loss of his bride


Green grows the laurel softly falls the dew

I’m sorry my true lover for ever parting from you


When he returned again to her father he did go

Is your daughter inside sir can I see her once more


My daughter is gone sir she left here last night

She has gone to some nunnery was the old mans reply


The captain rode on to the nunnery where he knocked upon the door

Down came the reverend mother and her tears they did flow


Your true love is gone sir she was taken last night

Gone to the asylum after losing her mind


The captain rode on to the asylum, arrived at first light

The story that they gave to him was that she died here last night


Let me in there cried the captain, let me in there the captain cried

Let me in there til I see her, til I stand by her side


Standing by her left side his sharp sword he drew

And he gave her great attention as he pierced his heart through


Sad was their misfortune sorrowful their fate

To see two loyal lovers lying together in one place




In 1967 John “Jacko” Reilly recorded a set of songs for Tom Munnelly. These were subsequently released by Topic records on John’s remarkable album “The Bonny Green Tree”. I heard him sing this song back in 1965 but did not hear it again until Helen Grehan performed it at a concert in Boyle in June 2014. That concert raised funds towards a memorial plaque to commemorate John’s life and time in Boyle. It can be seen on the Square, Boyle, Co. Roscommon. At that concert Helen’s rendition of this song stilled the night. In subsequent months, and with Helen’s encouragement, I began to engage with it. I added a verse, something I had done previously with John’s “Lord Baker” and “Raggle Taggle Gypsy”, and gradually fell under the spell of yet another one of John Reilly’s beautiful, ancient ballads.