The singer calls "dry-land sailors" to hear of the (Calabar), sailing the (Strabane canal). The food runs out. They hit mud, and throw off the captain's wife to lighten ship. They fight off a "pirate" scow. The captain says he'll take the train next time.
Sort of an Irish version of "The E-ri-e." It doesn't follow that it's older, though; there are references to steam.
Harte makes the interesting comment that he never encountered a serious canal song, adding that a canalman told him that the worst danger on the canal boats was fleas! Harte's statement is a little strong -- there are a couple of minor canal disaster songs in the American tradition -- but he isn't far wrong. - RBW
Also collected and sung by David Hammond, "Cruise of the Calabar" (on David Hammond, "I Am the Wee Falorie Man: Folk Songs of Ireland," Tradition TCD1052 CD (1997) reissue of Tradition LP TLP 1028 (1959)) - BS