The Voyage

Print This Page Print This Page It was 1803 when we sailed out to sea And away from the sweet town of Derry For Australia bound and if we didn't drown The mark of the fetter we'd carry. Our ship was The Gull, fourteen days out of Hull And on orders to carry the croppy Like a ghost in the night she sailed out of sight Leaving many a wee'an unhappy. In our rusty iron chains well we sighed for our wee'ans And our good wives we'd left in our sorrow And the main sails unfurled our curses we hurled At the English and the thought of tomorrow. At the mouth of the Foyle we bade farewell to our soil And the sea turned as blue as the heavens. The breeze filled our sails of a yellowish pale And the captain lay drunk in his cabin. The Gull cut the sea carving our destiny And the sea spray rose white and came flying. O'Docherty screamed, awoken out of his dreams By a vision of bold Robert dying. The sun burnt us cruel as they dished out the gruel And Dan O'Connor lay dying with fever. Sixty rebels today, bound for Botany Bay, God, how many would reach the receiver. I cursed them to hell as our bows fought the swell And we danced like a moth in the firelight. White horses rode by as the devil passed by Taking ten souls to Hades in the twilight. Five weeks out to sea we were now forty-three And the strongest wept bitter like children. Jesus, we screeched and our God we beseeched But all we got was a prayer from a pilgrim. In our own smelling slime we were lost in time Hoping God in his mercy would claim us. But our spirits shone high like stars in the sky We were rebels and no man would tame us. We were all about lost, two round score was our cost When the man on the mast shouted, "Land hoe!" The crew gave a cheer as we cradled our fear And the fathoms gave up and we swam low. Van Diemen's land a hell for a man Who would live out his whole life in slavery, Where the climate was raw and the gun made the law And neither wind or the rain cared for bravery. Twenty long years have gone and I've ended my bond And my comrades' ghosts walk behind me. A rebel I came and I died just the same It's on the cold wind at night that you'll find me. (The singer Christy Moore adapted this poem as a song entitled "I Wish I Was Back Home In Derry")