This ballad was originally published in my prose work, Leaves from Margaret Smith's Journal, as the song of a wandering Milesian schoolmaster. In the seventeenth century, slavery in the New World was by no means confined to the natives of Africa. Political offenders and criminals were transported by the British government to the plantations of Barbadoes and Virginia, where they were sold like cattle in the market. Kidnapping of free and innocent white persons was practised to a considerable extent in the seaports of the United Kingdom.
O NORAH, lay your basket down,
And rest your weary hand,
And come and hear me sing a song
Of our old Ireland.
There was a lord of Galaway,
A mighty lord was he;
And he did wed a second wife,
A maid of low degree.
But he was old, and she was young,
And so, in evil spite,
She baked the black bread for his kin,
And fed her own with white.
She whipped the maids and starved the kern