Cruise of the Calabar


Come all ye dry-land sailors and listen to my song
It has only forty verses so I won’t detain you long
It’s all about the history of this here Irish tar
Who sailed as a man before the mast on board the Calabar

So heave away, me hearties
We’re bound for lands afar
As we sail away from James Gate
Aboard the Calabar

The Calabar was a clipper flat, copper-fastened fore and aft
Her rudder stuck out far behind, her wheel was a great big shaft
With half a gale to swell each sail, she’d make two knots an hour
The smartest craft on the Grand Canal, though only one horse-power

Our captain was a strapping youth, his height was four feet two
His eyes were black, his nose was red, his cheeks a Prussian blue
He wore a leather medal that he’d won at the China war
And his wife was passenger, mate and cook aboard of the Calabar

We started out from James Gate, the weather being sublime
But in the straits of Rialto Bridge, where you can’t pass two at a time
Anther ship ran into us that gave us a serious check
For it stove in the starboard paddle box and shattered the hurricane deck

While hugging the shore of Inchicore, a very dangerous part
We ran on top of a lump of coal that wasn’t marked down on the chart
To keep ourselves from sinking and save each precious life
We heaved the cargo overboard, including the captain’s wife

Then all became confusion while the stormy wind did blow
Our bosun slipped on an orange peel and fell in the hold below
“A pirate ship,” our captain cried, “and on us she does gain
When next I go to Clondalkin, boys, by Jove I’ll go by train”

We got our arms all ready to meet the coming foe
Our cutlasses and boarding pikes and Gatling guns also
“Turn on full speed” the captain said “for we are sorely pressed”
But the engineer replied from the bank “The horse is doing his best”

Oh, thick and fast the heroes fell, in streams, the blood was spilt
Great numbers fell before they were touched, to make sure they wouldn’t be kilt
At last when the enemy struck her flag, her crew being laid on their backs
We found she was a sister ship with a cargo of cobbler’s wax

The ship is in the marine store now; the crew in the county jail
And I’m the only survivor left to tell the terrible tale
But if I could release that ship, I’d sail her off afar
And admiral be of a blooming fleet on the fighting Calabar


Song Clip