The Wreck of the Gwendoline by C.J. Boland


FROM the day I was nine, the wish was mine
A sailor bold to be ;
I began to pine for the stormy brine,
And a life on the deep blue sea.
And so one day on the old Bridge Quay,
I kissed my blue-eyed Nell,
And I shipped with joy as a cabin-boy
To a boatman of Clonmel.

‘Tis a dreadful shock to leave Poulslough
When the hearts young and bright,
The street called Hawke, and the Grave Walk,
And Duckett Street by night.
My sweet abode on Kerry Road
Is shrined in memory’s cell.
Ah, cruel fate! Good-bye, West Gate,
And Shambles Lane – farewell.

The morn was still; near Hughes’ mill
The Gwendoline was moored.
We laid in grog, and a terrier dog,
And a cargo of oats – insured.
So we poled away at break of day
And waved all friends adieu;
And a loud farewell rang the friary bell
As the brewery hove in view.

At the word “Avast” we manned each mast,
And we cheered for Murphy’s stout,
As the cheer arose, we frightened the crows
On the Waterford bow with the shout.
But the day grew dark, and our bounding barque
Was struck by a sudden squall ;
The captain grew pale in the driving gale,
As we swept by the gashouse wall.

Her timber creaks, and now she leaks;
With a shovel we try to bale,
But not even that, nor the captain’s hat,
Nor an old top-boot avail.
We neared the bank and threw a plank
To the Tipperary shore;
One whirl it gave, then in the wave
It sunk, to rise no more.

I cried “Farewell” to my blue-eyed Nell,
And I brushed away a tear,
But my heart gave a bound as we ran aground
On the wall of Dudley’s weir;
Then we walked ashore, half dead or more,
The dog, and myself, and the tar,
And we shouted” Ahoy” to a creamery boy,
And went home in an ass’s car.

And the captain cried, as we homeward hied,
That his luck for ever was gone,
For a gipsy foretold in the days of old,
He’d be wrecked at “Kilnawan.”
“What harm,” said he, ” if it chanced to be
Where Kilsheelan’s billows foam ?
ut the Board of Trade will me degrade,
For it’s half a mile from home.”

She was stuck in weeds, but some twenty steeds
That were chargers in their day,
They towed her back, on the sternward track,
To her berth beside the quay.
And other boats with Tartary oats,
May sail to Carrick Green,
But never more, by sea or shore,
Will sail the Gwendoline.

Taken from My Clonmel Scrapbook
Compiled & Edited James White
Second 1000 ; Published E. Downey & Co., Waterford ; 1907 ; No. ISBN