The Greenland Disaster (Geenleaf & Mansfield)

See also: The Greenland Disaster (MacEdward Leach)

And also: The Greenland Disaster (A House)

And also: The Greenland Disaster (A C Wornell)

And also: The Greenland Disaster (Figgy Duff)

Ye tender hearted Christians,
I hope you will attend
To these few feeling verses
that I have lately penned.
Listen to my mournful story;
your grief it will renew,
When I relate the hardships
that befell the Grenland's crew.

They sailed from St John's Harbour
all on the tenth of March,
Commanded by Captain Barbour,
the ice fields for to search;
With colors flying gaily
they gave three hearty cheers,
But mark what followed after,
you quickly shall hear.

Her course it lay into the North;
she boldly sailed away
Down to the North, passed by the Funks,
she still kept on her way;
No danger seemed to threaten
this gay and gallant boat,
And on the twelfth, I heard them say,
they took their first white coat.

From that until the twenty-first
all seemed bright and gay,
And for to get a saving trip
they killed and panned away;
It crowned their labors with delight
the prospect being so great,
They did not know the grief and woe
that on them did await.

It was early on the twenty-first
just by the morning light,
The Captain gave orders,
all with a cheerful voice:
"All hands, all hands upon the ice,
be ready one and all!"
And each man then most cheerfully
responded to that call.

But in a short time after that
the storm king did arise;
Boreas blew with vengeance
which darkened o'er the skies.
Those poor unhappy creatures,
they knew not where to go;
They could find no protection
from the bitter frost and snow.

They then drew close together
their freezing limbs to warm;
It was a small protection from
that wild and bitter storm.
They raised a prayer most fervently
to Him above the sky;
They cast one mournful glance all 'round
and they laid down to die.

When the Greenland came in view,
O, what a dreadful sight!
Twenty-five stiff frozen corpses
lay dead upon the ice.
Those twenty-five were brought to land,
but, shocking to relate,
There are twenty-three still missing,
which number forty-eight.

There is one among the missing,
from St Brenden he came;
He was an honest fisherman,
Mike Hennessey by name.
On Tuesday night they laid him
down upon the ice to sleep;
Boreas blew a bitter squall
which threw him in the deep.

And now he fills a watery grave
from home and friends away,
Until the death roll shall be called
upon the Judgement Day.
"May the Lord have mercy on his soul,"
will be our fervent prayer,
And may he rest in heaven,
free from all earthly care.

One William Heaton from Harbour Grace,
that promising young man,
His parents' joy and hearts' delight,
describe their grief who can -
To see their dear and darling boy
cut down in his bloom;
With heavy sighs and mournful cries
they laid him in his tomb.

But now he is gone, that gallant boy,
and why should they repine?
There is many a one as well as him,
have left their friends behind;
There are mothers, wives, and orphans
who are left for to complain
For those who in the Greenland sailed
and never returned again.

Now to conclude and finish,
I have a few more words to say:
I hope you all will join me
to the Lord to pray,
To comfort those that are left behind
and to them peace restore
From grief and woe and broken hearts
for friends they'll see no more.

####.... Mrs John (Bridget) Walsh [1832-1907] of Fleur de Lys, NL ....####
This variant published on pp.40-41 of Old Time Songs and Poetry of Newfoundland: Songs Of The People From The Days Of Our Forefathers, second edition, 1940, printed by the publishers of The Family Fireside for Gerald S Doyle, St John's. Doyle noted that his variant was sung in 1929 by Herbert A Watkins [1897-?] of Twillingate, and published as #146 on pp.299-300 of Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland by Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1933; Folklore Associates, Hatboro, PA, 1968).

Note: The Greenland, was built in Ireland in 1872. On March 21, 1898, her crew was stranded on the ice while sealing and perished.

From the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:
Funks - coastal islands where sea-birds nest and create a strong smell or stink.


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