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Micho’s Dozen: Traditional Songs from the Repertoire of Micho Russell, Doolin, Co. Clare

4. The ‘Titanic’

Micho recalls that there used to be a lot of songs about shipwrecks sung around Doolin in his youth like ‘The Lusitania’, ‘Of Shipwrecks and Disasters’ (‘The Alfred D. Snow’) and the above song which he learned from his father.

The calamity which overtook the ‘Titanic’ on April 14th 1912 has been fertile ground for songmakers and occasioned no less than five hundred songs to be written on the disaster. The first of well over one hundred songs on the event to be copyrighted in the United States was registered less than a fortnight later, on April 25th 1912. Songs in Yiddish, Hebrew, Czech, Swedish, Danish, German and Dutch have been collected lamenting the loss of the 1,552 passengers and crew who perished on that fatal night. At least eight different ballads about the sinking have been recorded in Irish tradition. Micho’s song is probably the most popular in local Clare tradition and seems to owe its origins to a contemporary broadsheet.

Micho’s Dozen: Traditional Songs from the Repertoire of Micho Russell: The 'Titanic' Musical Notes

The world o’er from shore to shore
Will mourn at the loss
Of that big ship on her first trip
The ocean for to cross.
There was no fear, but joy and cheer
Upon that big ship’s deck.
Oh, who would think she was to sink
And become a total wreck?

She left the port in joy and sport,
A tower of manly craft
With human freight of hundreds eight,
A crew up fore and aft
Who did rejoice until the ice
Brought sorrow, grief and gloom
And sent that ocean’s pride for to reside
Into a watery tomb.

It was at night, it was a fright,
With most of them undressed;
That gallant crew what could they do?
Ah, but they done their best.
They lowered each boat and put afloat
(Their) children and their wives.
No selfish thought to them was brought
To save their own dear lives.

Ah, but alas, that struggling mass
Was never more to land
In their dear homes, the raging foam
Had it at its command.
The seething waves must be their graves,
May Heaven have each soul
And comfort give to those that lived
And resound from pole to pole.

‘Titanic’ named, for strength ’twas famed,
’Twas built for speed - what price!
But ah, how frail when it did sail
Upon that berg of ice.
That thing of pride it did divide
From stem to stern in two.
May those it drowned in peace be found;
Both passengers and crew.

May God control each perished soul
Of bodies in the deep
And send relief and stem the grief
Their friends for to console,
When with a smile good Father Boyle
His blessing on them gave -
May Heaven bless and send success
For those he tried to save.

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5. Nora Daly