“The Calabar”


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

Cross references


  1. SHenry H502, pp. 98-99, "The Cruise of the Calabar" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. OLochlainn-More 17, "The Cruise of the Calabar" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Hammond-Belfast, pp. 32-33, "The Cruise of the Calibar" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. ADDITIONAL: Frank Harte _Songs of Dublin_, second edition, Ossian, 1993, pp. 16-17, "The Cruise of the Calabad" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Roud #1079
  7. BI, HHH502


Alternate titles: “The Manchester Canal”; “The Wreck of the Calibar”; “The Good Ship Calabah”; “The Strabane Fleet”
Author: John Trainor (1910) (OLochlainn-More)
Earliest date: 1910 (OLochlainn-More)
Found in: Ireland