The Glasgow
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John Renfro Davis


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The Glasgow was an Irish emigrant ship which was lost on February 14, 1837. The writer may have been the John Williams of Cootehill of the song, because legend has it the ballad was written by a Glasgow survivor. All you who love your native land
And mean to emigrate
A while draw near and you shall hear
What happened of late
To tell the hardships I went through
Some pages it would fill
When I was forced to leave my home,
That place called Sweet Cootehill.

John Williams is my name,
This truth I'll ne'er deny;
My friends they banished me away,
I'll tell you the reason why -
Because I would not break the vows
I made unto my dear,
They tore me from the arms
Of my charming Sally Greer.

Straight away to Liverpool
My friends did me convey
And in the Glasgow to New York
My passage they did pay
Along with Captain Robinson
And sixteen of a crew
We set out for America
Our fortune to pursue.

'Twas on the eight of February
Our gallant ship set sail
Bound for the city of New York,
With a sweet and pleasant gale.
On the midnight of the seventh day,
Before our captain went to rest
He called unto his chief-mate
And made him this behest.

Take you charge of the vessel,
And of yon rocks keep clear
And beat about the Irish coast
Till daylight doth appear.
Our chief-mate took the orders,
But he did not them obey
And by neglect he let the ship
Go quite out of her way.

Early the following morning,
About half-past four o'clock,
Our gallant ship with all her might
Came on a sunken rock.
These rocks are called The Barrels;
They're hidden from human sight;
They lie abreast of Carnsore Head,
And west of Tuskar Light.

Men, women and children
Were filled with great surprise
A heart like flint it would relent
To hear their dismal cries.
We hoist a light from our mast-head
Before it was daylight
And to our joy and great surprise
A schooner hove in sight.

Captain Walsh gave orders
Unto his seamen brave,
The women and the children
To strive first for to save
With that the Glasgow gave a lurch,
And none could her prevent,
And five-and-twenty fine young men
Down to the bottom went.

Long life to Captain Walsh
And to his seamen brave,
But for his assistance
We'd have met a watery grave.
He landed us in Wexford town
Where we were treated kind.
In time of need indeed 'twas there
Some warm friends we did find.

In these four months four vessels
Wrecked upon the watery main:
The Glasgow and the Mexico,
The Bristol and the Jane.
And nearly a thousand passengers
Lie asleep in watery graves
Men who thought to settle in land
That never sheltered slaves

Related Links
From Irish Ballads and Songs of the Sea
See Bibliography for full information.