From the recording Timber And Stream

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© Bobby Sands

Sonya Baughman: vocals, tinwhistle
Mark Clavey: lead vocals, guitar
Mary Hanover: vocals, tinwhistle

A poignant story about the transportation of five-dozen Irish rebels to Australia following their participation in the ill-fated Rising of 1803 and the execution of their leader, the Bold Robert Emmet. The lyrics were written by Bobby Sands, political prisoner and hunger-striker (who died on May 5th 1981 following his 65th day of a hunger-strike at Long Kesh prison). The melody comes from Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald".


In 1803 we took to the sea, out from the sweet quay of Derry. Australia-bound, if we didn't all drown, and the marks of our fetters we carried. In rusty iron chains we sighed for our weans, our women we left there in sorrow. As the mainsails unfurled, our curses we hurled on the English and thoughts of tomorrow.

At the mouth of the Foyle we bid farewell to the soil as down below-deck we were lying. O'Doherty screamed, woken out of his dream by a vision of Bold Robert dying. The sun burnt cruel as we dished out the gruel, Dan O'Connor was down with a fever. Sixty rebels that day bound for Botany Bay… how many would meet their Receiver?

I wish I was back home in Derry. Oh, I wish I was back home in Derry.

We cursed them to Hell as the bow fought the swell, the ship danced like a moth 'round the firelight. White horses rode high as the Devil passed by taking souls to Hades by twilight. Six weeks out to sea we were now forty-three, we buried our comrades each morning. And in our own slime we were lost in a time of endless days without dawning.

Oh, I wish I was back home in Derry, &c

Now Van Dieman's Land is a Hell on a man to live out his life in slavery - the weather is raw and the gun makes the law, and neither wind nor rain care for bravery. Twenty years have gone by and I've ended my bond, the ghosts of my friends walk beside me. Well a rebel I came and, sure, I'll die the same - on the cold winds of night you will find me.

Oh, I wish I was back home in Derry, &c