Thirteenth Lock

Lyrics

A bright born day in merry May
And a weeping group stands by
To bid adieu to the gallant crew
That sails as the sun mounts high
Leaning over the waves are the mariners brave
Who reck not of storm or rock
And they laugh and smoke and jest and joke
Though they’re bound for the thirteenth lock
Yo ho! they’re bound for the thirteenth lock

‘Oh skipper stay’ quoth a mariner gray
Who stood nigh Marrowbone Lane
‘I’m a sailor old and I trow as bold
As roves on this angry main’
Thirteen, be still, ’tis a number ill
Beware young man, don’t mock
Right scomfully laughed the captain, Sez he
I’m bound for the Thirteenth Lock, yo ho
I’m bound for the Thirteenth Lock

‘Oh Pat, beware’ cried a damsel fair
Sail not today my dear
We warn, don’t scorn, ’tis Friday morn
The day true mariners fear
And what would I do Pat, if I lost you
Sure my heart couldn’t stand the shock’
Full merrily laughed the captain, Sez he
I’m bound for the Thirteenth Lock, yo ho
I’m bound for the Thirteenth Lock

‘Cease love, those sighs, dim not your eyes
With beauty-killing tears
You may be bound I’ll come back sound
So calm your woman’s fears
And I’ll bring to thee a chimpanzee
A parrot, a jabberwock
A kangaroo and a cockatoo
From the wilds of the Thirteenth Lock, yo ho
From the wilds of the Thirteenth Lock

The ship set sail while a piercing wail
Rang out from the womankind
‘Port yer helm a-lee’ quoth the captain he
And we’ll catch the southern wind
Spur up your steed to its fiercest speed
’Tis long past twelve o’clock
We should sight the shore of Inchicore
Then ho! for the Thirteenth Lock, yo ho
Then ho! for the Thirteenth Lock

But never the shore of Inchicore
Could the man at the masthead see
Though he craned his neck to the quarter deck
He came and thus spake he
Skipper, ’tis true that I’m your crew
Your mate, cook-all in stock
But I’m hanged if I’ll steer for a place so queer
As this cursed Thirteenth Lock, yo ho
As this cursed Thirteenth Lock

‘Let us change our way till another day
And smoke and spin a yarn
On the evening’s tide we’ll at anchor ride
In the bay of Dolphin’s Barn’
Then the skipper quick gave a mighty kick
And the mariner felt the shock
And the crew found a grave ’neath the deep blue wave
On the way to the Thirteenth Lock, yo ho
On the way to the Thirteenth Lock

Thus ever’ quoth he, ‘perish mutiny’
And turned him round with a smile.
About and around, and lo, he found
A shape behind the while.
With fiery eyes and horns of size
And a tail that might Peter shock
At the skipper’s gape up spake the shape
‘I’m bound for the Thirteenth Lock’ yo ho
I’m bound for the Thirteenth Lock

By the harbour sands a maiden stands
With her gaze fixed out to sea
But she’ll watch in vain, for never again
Will he come with that chimpanzee
And Israel stands, wringing both his hands
His face like a marble block
For the skipper bold borrowed half his gold
Ere he sailed for the Thirteenth Lock, yo ho
Ere he sailed for the Thirteenth Lock


Notes

The Grand Canal begins at the River Liffey in Grand Canal Dock and continues through to the River Shannon with various branches, including a link to the River Barrow waterway at Athy.

From Grand Canal Dock it passes through Ringsend and then traverses the south-side along by Ballsbridge, Ranelagh, Rathmines, Harold’s Cross and Crumlin. This section is the Circular Line and has seven locks. At Inchicore can be seen the path of the original main line to the Grand Canal Harbour, the City Basin reservoir and Guinness brewery. Most of the route of this line now runs alongside the Red Luas Line.

From Suir Road Bridge, the lock numbering starts again at 1 as the canal heads west through the suburbs of Dublin West and into Kildare. The Thirteenth Lock is at Lyons Hill, a village (restored by Tony Ryan, founder of Ryanair) and former parish with church, now part of the community of Ardclough in north County Kildare. In total the main line of the canal is 131 kilometres with 43 locks, five of which are double locks.

I have memories of watching the Guinness Barges navigate the lock at Suir Bridge and at other times, jumping on and off the barges as they passed through the narrow passage under Dolphin’s Barn Bridge.

‘Spur up your steed to its fiercest speed’ in verse 5 reminds us that the barges were originally horse drawn but that had all finished before my time.

A lock on the Grand Canal

A lock on the Grand Canal


Song Clip


County

Dublin


Songwriter