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Donegal Danny

[Familiar Brew]

Phil Coulter

A great and tragic story of the sea. I think that I may have first heard it sung by The Dubliners. St. John's Point is on the southern coast of County Donegal. The closest town would be Killybegs, the largest fishing port in Ireland. This is dedicated to my late friend Walter Turner, who loved the sea and sea-shanties. He would have loved this story.

I remember the night that he came in
From the wintry cold and damp
A giant of a man in an oilskin coat
And a bundle that told he was a tramp
He walked up to the bar and called for a pint
He then turned and gazed at the fire
On a night like this, to be safe and dry
Is my one and only desire

So here's to those that are dead and gone
To friends that I loved dear
And here's to you and I'll bid you adieu, sayin'
"Donegal Danny's been here, me boys,
Donegal Danny's been here"

Then in a voice that was hushed and low
He said, "listen, I'll tell you a tale"
How a man of the sea became a man of the road
And never more would set sail
I fished out of Howth and Killybegs
Ardglass and Baltimore
But the cruel sea ah, she's beaten me
So I'll end my days on the shore


On that fateful night in the wind and the rain
We set sail from Killybegs town
There were five of us from sweet Donegal
And one from the County Down
We were fishermen who worked the sea
And never counted the cost
But I never thought e'er that fateful night
That my five friends would all be lost


Well the wind it broke and it rolled the boat
On the rocks about ten miles from shore
As we fought the tide, we hoped inside
To see our homes once more
But when we struck a rock and holed the bow
And we all knew that she'd go down
We jumped right into the icy sea
And prayed to God we wouldn't drown

But the ragin' sea was risin' yet
As we struck out for the land
And she fought with all her cruelty
To claim that gallant band
But by Saint John's point in the early dawn
I dragged myself onto the shore
And I cursed the sea for what she'd done
And I vowed to sail her never more


Ever since that night I've been on the road
Travelin' and tryin' to forget
That awful night I lost all my friends
I see their faces yet
And often at night when the sea is high
And the rain is tearing at my skin
I can hear the cries of drowning men
Come floating over on the wind