If my health is spared I’ll be long relating
Of the boat that sailed out from Anach Cuan
And the keening after of mother and father
As the laying out of each corpse was done

Oh King of Graces who died to save us
It was a small affair but for one or two
But a boat-load bravely on a calm sailing
Without storm or rain to be swept to doom

The boat sprang a leak and left all those people
And frightened sheep out adrift on the tide
It beats all telling what fate befell them
Eleven strong men and eight women died

Young boys, they were lying where crops were ripening
From the strength of youth, they were borne away
In their wedding clothes for their wake they robed them
Oh King of Glory, man’s hope is vain

May burning mountains come tumbling downward
On that place of drowning, may curses fall
Full many the soul, it has left in mourning
And left without hope of a bright day’s dawn

The cause of their fate was no fault of sailing
It was the boat that failed them the ‘Caisle├ín Nua’
And left me to make with a heart that’s breaking
This sad lamentation for Anach Cuan


This song was composed by Raftery the poet to commemorate the disaster which befell the people of `Annaghdown’ (Anach Cuan) while on their way to a fair in Galway. The translator is unknown.

About thirty villagers with ten sheep and other goods set off in an old boat from the shores of Lough Corrib to go the eight miles into Galway. In those days there was no direct road, and the lake was the nearest way. The boat was rotten, and within two miles of Galway it sprung a leak. One of the men tried to plug it with his coat, and pressing with his heel to drive it more firmly in, drove the whole plank out of the boat. In a few seconds all of these poor people were struggling in the water, and although they were close to land, nineteen of them drowned, eleven men and eight women.

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Song Themes

Songs of the sea