Dollar Bay, a ballad of the sea

The Ballad of Dollar Bay

(Air Traditional – Lord Franklin)

The Earl of Sandwich, a fine ship was she,

As strong as any sailed the salt sea.

But it was not winds or towering waves

that laid her low, but four sailors, cruel knaves.


It was November Seventeen Sixty Five,

Those butchering killers left none alive.

Captain and family in the ocean they threw,

Then followed passengers and honest crew.


McKinley, Quintin, Zickerman and Gidden,

Thought the ship would sink, their crimes be hidden.

With bags of gold and silver, jewels galore,

They took the longboat and rowed for shore.


There in the sand, Spanish dollars they buried,

To New Ross and a rich life they hurried,

But it wasn’t to be, the brave ship was found

Their crime discovered when she ran aground.


The cabin boy, they had left for dead,

Was still aboard when she hit rocks ahead,

  Clinging to life he was finally saved,

And told  of cruel murder he’d braved.


The robbers were soon in the taverns  of Ross,

On bar counters ‘twas gold coin they would toss.

 Where did that come from, the townspeople thought?

It wasn’t long before they were caught.


Then they were taken to that little bay

To show where the rest was hidden away

They gave up the treasure, ‘twas a great haul,

But some say they didn’t uncover it all.


For murder they were told they would die,

But never in graves would peacefully lie.

 As warning their bones in cages were seen

Rattling off Dublin, by Sandymount Green


That little bay where they dug in the sand

Is easy to find, it’s nearby at hand.

 So if it’s treasure and riches you seek,

Go down to Dollar Bay, and dig on that beach.

Dolphins Danced That Day

This poem is in memory of Martin Colfer. Skipper of the Rebecca C, who often took me out to search for the whales off the Hook Head in County Wexford.  The video was shot at a reading of this in The Troubadour London, during an evening organised by Coffee House Poetry.



Dolphins danced in the harbour that day


in memoriam Martin Colfer, Skipper of the Rebecca C


They were good, those days together, easy

sailing, easy talking, easy in each

others company.  He taught me how to

watch at sea for birds circling, then diving.

He showed me the seals spying on us,

the dolphins playing games around the boat,

then, wonder of wonders, we would reach where

we had seen the great whales blow.  At times we

would come so close we could hear their very

breathing.  Together we saw mighty Fin

Whales, majestic Humpbacks, playful passing

Minke.  Once, sailing from our own harbour

at Duncannon we set a Northward course

to Ballyhack he gave me the tiller

to hold her steady while he cleared space

for photographers, waiting for their chance

to see the sights that we had often seen.

It happened then we went through pods of

Dolphins swimming in families of three.

At one hundred we stopped our counting.

Small wonder so that the day they buried

him in the graveyard overlooking the bay

the dolphins danced in the water, plain

enough then, that all who mourned could see.

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