Malahide Fishermen


Your aid I crave, you Muses, I pray, lend no excuses
But in spite of my confusion, my slender quill do guide
And order proclamation, to state the desolation
And the woeful lamentation that was heard in Malahide

What caused this lamentation was the loss of four brave seamen
Who in the briny region have lately met their doom
They left many a friend lamenting, their hearts in sorrow rending
To think their days were ending, all in their youth and bloom

They were lads of good behaviour; they always did endeavour
All by their daily labour their credit for to win
And their names now for to mention, sure it is my intention
Were Tim and Michael Gaffney, Pat Dunne and Michael Finn

On the eighteenth of November, that’s as near as I remember
The weather seeming sober, they took their nets and lines
But by their fate’s permission, since they got their bread by fishing
And without the least suspicion, on their boat they did combine

On the nineteenth in the morning, as bright Phoebus was adorning
These lads, they were returning, all o’er the ebbing tide
And their sails and oars were handling, for to reach the place of landing
When Death did soon trepan them, on the Bar of Malahide

As the time was drawing nearer to determinate those heroes
Said Neptune to Boreas, “Let is raise an awful squall
For their sails, they now are bending, and their days in number ending
This is the place intended that we will upset their yawl”

Then Boréas blew his vengeance and the sea did rage tremendous
While Death his bow was bending, as to the spot they come
And here our poor, brave fellows did long resist the billows
While Neptune laid their pillows, all in a watery tomb

Now that their days are ended and their souls from earth ascended
All you that have intended on the Great God to call
Send up a last petition, with full and true contrition
That their souls may gain remission, that were lost here in Fingal

They left many a friend bewailing with agonizing feeling
But their tears are unavailing, for now their glass is run.
One of them left behind a loving wife and kind
The others, tender mothers, to bewail a darling son


On 14th November 1828, the 36 foot yawl ‘Anne of Malahide’ tragically capsized off the bar at Malahide. The four crew were lost but only the body of 36 year old Michael Gaffney was recovered. He is buried in the nave of Malahide Abbey close to Malahide Castle.

After the tragedy, the ‘Anne of Malahide’ was salvaged and remained in the Gaffney family. Her owner died at sea in 1833 and the skipper, John Gaffney, died in 1864. The boat was described as two -masted clinker built with a counter stern and wherry rigged. She did not have a figurehead. She measured almost 37 feet long, 12½ feet wide and a depth in the hold of just over 9 feet. On 17 January 1854 John Gaffney made a declaration to the effect that he was:
” the owner of 24 shares and that the owner of 48 shares in the ship on or about the 14 July 1833 had been drowned at sea and dying intestate and I do declare that the whole of the said fishing boat is not above forty pounds in value. 19th Day of January 1854 signed X his mark. John Gaffney.”


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Song Themes

Songs of the sea