Back Home in Derry lyrics

Christy Moore

In 1803 we sailed out to sea
Out from the sweet town of Derry
For Australia bound if we didn't all drown
The marks of our fetters we carried

In the rusty iron chains we cried for our wean's
Our good women we left in sorrow
As the main sails unfurled, our curses we hurled
At the English and thoughts of tomorrow

At the mouth of the Foyle, bid farwell to the soil
As down below decks we were lying
O'Doherty screamed, woken out of a dream
By a vision of bold Robert dying

The sun burned cruel as we dished out the gruel
Dan O'Connor was down with the fever
Sixty rebels today bound for Botany Bay
How many will reach their receiver?

Oh-oh-oh-oh, oh, I wish I was back home in Derry
Oh-oh-oh-oh, oh, I wish I was back home in Derry

I cursed them to hell, as our bow fought the swell
Our ship danced like a moth in the firelight
Wild horses rode high as the devil passed by
Taking souls to Hades by twilight

Five weeks out to sea, we were now forty-three
We buried our comrades each morning
In our own slime, we were lost in the time
Endless night without dawning

Oh-oh-oh-oh, oh, I wish I was back home in Derry
Oh-oh-oh-oh, oh, I wish I was back home in Derry

Van Diemen's land is a hell for a man
To end out his whole life in slavery
Where the climate is raw and the gun makes the law
Neither wind nor rain care for bravery

Twenty years have gone by, I've ended my bond
My comrades' ghosts walk behind me
A rebel I came, I'm still the same
On the cold winter's night you will find me

Oh-oh-oh-oh, oh, I wish I was back home in Derry
Oh-oh-oh-oh, oh, I wish I was back home in Derry

Oh-oh-oh-oh, oh, I wish I was back home in Derry
Oh-oh-oh-oh, oh, I wish I was back home in Derry

Song Details

Bobby Sands Funeral

Author: Bobby Sands - member of the IRA that sought to end British Rule in Northern Ireland. He wrote the song while imprisoned at HM Prison Maze where he died on a hunger strike at the age of 27... more

Christy Moore sang the lyrics to the melody of a Gordon Lightfoot song that had inspired him called The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Brief: The song commemorates the transportation of Irish prisoners to Van Diemen’s land (present-day Tasmania). The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

The lyrics describe the voyage of Irish rebels, convicted to exile in Australia, in the aftermath of the Irish Rebellion of 1803. The narrator describes the feelings of the men as they sail away from Ireland, in precarious conditions, while the chorus is a lament of longing for Derry...

Throughout the song, the narrator describes the harsh treatment Irish prisoners endured under English rule, and the execution of Robert Emmet is mentioned...

The narrator is ultimately deported to van Diemen's land, where he endures a harsh existence of servitude and violence.

Category: Irish Rebel Song

Covers: Neil Byrne & Ryan Kelly, Hair Of The Dog, Scythian, John Close, Chris Angel, Galway City Ramblers, The O'Reillys and the Paddyhats, The Fenians, Chris Angel, Barleycorn, John Close, Cu Chulainn, Derek Warfield & the Young Wolfe Tones.

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