The Race Boat Iris (Johnny Burke)

Oh, boys, did you see the races,
our only derby day,
And race boats manned by hardy crews
with bunting flying gay;
And did you see the Iris,
how she won most every race,
For not a boat was on the course
this little gig could face.

The Amateurs won the starting race
and rowed her in good style,
Although the Daisy pushed them hard
and for first place did toil;
When near the Head they tried to spurt
the Iris for to beat,
And the crew tossed up their oars,
the Iris won, two feet.

The third race on the programme,
the Tradesmen next did try,
The Myrtle had the inside cut,
the Daisy, southern buoy;
The Iris had the northern cut
and won this well fought heat,
Although the Myrtle gave them
all their time this boat to beat.

The Fishermen came next in turn
to see who'd win the day,
Torbaymen in the Iris,
the Myrtle, Logy Bay;
But in the start the Irish stopped,
the third man broke his oar,
The Myrtle rowed the course alone
and finished in ten-four.

And Knowling's boys they won the race
and rowed her up in style,
And beat the rest near half the lake
and won the Merchantile;
But the Juveniles in the Iris
they are a dandy crew,
They won the race, the bonus took,
which no set crew could do.

####.... Johnny Burke [1851-1930] of St John's, NL, 1896 ....####
Published in Burke's Ballads, p.29, c.1960, compiled by John White and archived at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Libraries, Centre For Newfoundland Studies - Digitized Books collection.

See more songs by Johnny Burke

From Canada's Digital Collections:
The Royal St John's Regatta - part of Newfoundland history for over 190 years, has been known to draw a crowd of up to 50,000 people annually to the shores of Quidi Vidi Lake. It is the oldest and probably one of the most celebrated annual sporting events in North America. The first recorded documentation of an organized event taking place in 1818, but historians believe that rowing matches were taking place among ship's crews in St John's Harbour since at least the 1700's. It is no surprise that in a society developed with such close ties to the sea that the skills of seafaring men - and more recently women - would be put to the test in friendly and sometimes unfriendly competition. The Juveniles in the Iris were the championship team only once in the Regatta's history with a time of 09:58.50 in 1896.


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