Sack of Baltimore


The summer sun is falling soft on Carbry’s hundred isles
The summer sun is gleaming still, thro’ Gabriel’s rough defiles
Old Inisherkin’s crumbled fane looks like a moulting bird
And in a calm and sleepy swell, the ocean tide is heard

The hookers lie upon the beach, the children cease their play
The gossips leave their little inn, the households kneel to pray
And full of love and peace and rest, its daily labour o’er
Upon that cosy creek there lay the town of Baltimore

A deeper rest, a starry trance has come with midnight there
No sound, except that throbbing wave in earth, or sea, or air
The massive capes and ruined towers seem conscious of the calm
The fibrous sod and stunted trees are breathing heavy balm

So still the night, these two long barques, round Dunashad that glide
Must trust their ears – methinks not few, against the ebbing tide
Oh! some sweet mission of true love must urge them to the shore
They bring some lover to his bride who sighs in Baltimore

All, all asleep within each roof along that rocky street
And these must be the lover’s friends with gentle gliding feet
A stifled gasp; a dreamy noise; ‘the roof is in a flame’
From out their beds, and to their doors, rush maid and sire and dame

And meet, upon the threshold stone, the gleaming sabre fall
And o’er each black and bearded face, the white or crimson shawl
The yell of ‘Allah!’ breaks above, the prayer and shriek, and roar
O blessed God, the Algerine is lord of Baltimore


The Sack of Baltimore took place on June 20, 1631, when the village of Baltimore, West Cork  was attacked by Algerian pirates from the North African Barbary Coast. The attack was the biggest single attack by the Barbary pirates on Ireland or Britain

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Songs of the sea


Thomas Davis