The Cruise of the Calabar

As we are in Ireland in the fall I thought this poem/song might help set the scene. I regret I do not know who was the author!


Come all ye dry land sailors and listen to me song,

It’s only forty verses and it won’t detain yez long

It’s all about the advent-choirs of this ould Lisburn tat

Who sailed as a man before the mast on the good ship Calabar.

The Calabar was a clipper ship, copper-bottomed fore and aft

Her stern stuck out behind her and her helm was a great big shaft

With half a gale to set the sail she made one knot per hour

She was the fastest ship on the Lagan canal and only one horse power.

The Captain he was a strapping lad, he stood full four foot two

His eyes were red, his face was green and his nose was Prussian blue

He wore a leather medal that he won in the crimes war

and his wife was steward and passenger cook aboard the Calabar.

One day the Captain came to me, he says, my lad, says he

Would you like to be a sailor and roam the ragin’ sea,

Would you like to be a sailor on foreign seas to roll,

For we are under orders for Aghalee with half a ton of coal.

On leaving the Abercorn basin the weather it was sublime

And passing under the oul’ Queen’s bridge we heard the Albert chime

But going up the gasworks straight, a very dangerous part,

We ran aground on a lump of coal that wasn’t marked down on the chart.

Then all became confusion and stormy winds did blow,

The boson slipped on an orange peel, and fell into the hold below.

More steam , more steam, the captain cried, for we are sorely pressed

And the engineer from the bank replied, the oul’ horse is doin’ its best.

When we awoke next morning we were in a terrible funk.

For the mate he had been drowned dead while sleeping in his bunk.

To stop the ship from sinking and to save each precious life

We threw all the cargo overboard including the captain’s wife.

A farmer on his way to work heard us loudly roar,

And he threw us the ends of his galluses and pulled us all ashore.

I’m finished with ocean roving and raomin’ the ragin’ main

And the next time I go to Portadown bejabers I’ll go by train.

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