Tobias Murphy And Tom Hann(Lehr & Best)
See also: Two Vessels Lost At Cape St Mary's (Leach)

'Twas in the month of September, the date I cannot give,
When everything upon the sea have found it hard to live,
Where boats and schooners found it bad, and also brigantines,
Around the shores of Newfoundland the like was seldom seen.

There's two captains in particular, their names I will send forth -
Tobias Murphy from The Rams, Tom Hann from Petit Forte.

As they were out on St Mary's Banks when the gale began to rise,
They quickly got under way for to save their precious lives;
In under a double-reef foresail they runned before wind and sea,
And the first landfall I believe Tom saw was the point of Golden Bay.

For they were in quite handy and the morning it was thick,
With wind and tide upon both sides, it hove a heavy kick;
They hoisted a three-reef mainsail to clear in around the Cape,
It was their only chance, my b'ys, from danger to escape.

But when he got her in around it was to his greatest shock,
When a heavy sea broke on the boat, Tom thinks 'twas Brierly Rock.

For about three quarters of an hour and the sea in mountains foamed,
When those poor b'ys gave up their lives and all their friends at home.
The people on the shore that day they turned their backs around,
Not to behold that dreadful sight of their own friends sinking down.

The priest he read the rosary, it was read in open air,
The Holy Mother raised her hand and brought her children clear.

Tobias Murphy he made low and also was too late
For the wind it caught him on the veer before he reached the Cape;
In under a two-reef foresail he was forced to bear away,
And run her for North Harbour down in St Mary's Bay.

Now Peter Murphy he took charge, we thought him best to steer.
Our compass and binnacle it was gone and the morning wasn't clear.
But that poor fellow hadn't long charge when dismal was his doom -
A heavy sea broke over her and swept him to his doom.

I'm sure the like had never runned in his strong heart or mind,
For he done his whole endeavour when he saw that sea behind;
Din Bruce he runned to help him not thinking that he'd go,
But a broken sea swept them away some fathoms down below.

It was terrible on board the boat that day for to see those two men drown,
Our boat was overpowered in sea and she would not come around;
Our boat got overpowered in sea and so seldom would she breathe,
As we left those poor fellows far behind in a wide and a watery grave.

And such another gale as that on the coast was seldom seen -
May the Lord have mercy on the souls of those two fishermen.

####.... Peter Leonard ....####
Collected by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best in 1983 from Phillip Pius Power, Sr [1912-1993] of South East Bight, NL, and published as #110 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.187-188, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press © 1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that according to Aunt Caroline (Carrie) Brennan [1892-1994] of Ship Cove, NL, this sea tragedy occurred in 1878: "The priest was having Mass in Lear's Cove near Cape St Mary's - that was the Cape they were rounding - when the storm arose. Some men went in and said: 'Father, there's a boat in dire distress out in the bay.' The priest got ready and went out, and the wind blowing a gale - he got down on his knees and prayed to the Blessèd Virgin and our Blessèd Mother raised her hand and brought her children free." Lehr also noted that Aunt Carrie had the following lines as the beginning of the first verse:

Come all ye hearty fishermen and listen unto me,
   While I relate the dangers that do attend the sea.

Lehr further noted that this song was composed by Peter Leonard from whom Mr Power learned it. "The last time I heard him sing Tobias Murphy 'twas in the '30s - I was in my twenties. That was the night we had the soup supper in Clattice Harbour that he made the song about. He sung it [Soup Supper In Clattice Harbour] for us on the way home from Mass in St Kyran's the next Sunday." Lehr concluded by noting that Peter Leonard was called Gandy.

See more songs by Lehr and Best

A variant was collected in 1951 from Mr Fitzgerald of Renews, NL, and published as Two Vessels Lost At Cape St Mary's in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

From The American Heritage Dictionary:
Binnacle - nonmagnetic stand on which a ship's compass case is supported.
Reef - reduce the size of a sail by tucking in a part and tying it to or rolling it around a yard to lessen the area exposed to the wind.


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