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The Northeast Gale

Roud #26873

Composed by Walt Young, this song tells the story of a gale that arose off the coast of Newfoundland on 18 June 1906. Several fishing craft from Placentia Bay that were fishing off Cape St Mary’s were caught in the storm and men were lost at sea.

Listen to Denis McGrath sing “The northeast gale,” view an annotated transcript, and download your own copy of the words.

The northeast gale / Denis McGrath

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The northeast gale / Denis McGrath

The northeast gale, song (Ye hardy sons of Newfoundland pay attention to my song ...) Composed by Walt Young, this song tells the story of a gale that arose off the coast of Newfoundland on 18 June 1906. Several fishing craft from Placentia Bay that were fishing off Cape St Mary’s were caught in the storm and men were lost at sea.


Denis McGrath's version of “The northeast gale”

Ye hardy sons of Newfoundland attention to my song,
It is not my intention for to delay ye long,
It's of a sad sad story I am going to let you hear,
Concerning all those heroes bold undaunted without fear.

They are as hardy of seamen bold that plough the billowing foam,
They all belong to Placentia Bay, a true bred soul at home,
One hundred sailors of fishing craft to Cape St Mary's go,
To fish in tide and gales of wind no matter how they blow.

Being on the 18th day of June in nineteen hundred and six,
When a dreadful gale from the northeast put us all in a fix,
There was dories out to haul the trawlers, when the gale it did come on,
Those captains chopped their cables and before the gale did run.

Jim Fowler from Fox Harbour he cried aloud with fear,
'We'll chop our cable from the bow and all our crew bring clear,
We're going to have a dreadful gale, God allow us to tell the tale,
We'll round out around the Cape under a small sail.'

Good luck attend his brother Tom aboard of the Mary Ev,
Who is a man of courage bold when the wind is rolling still,
Where his two dories were both lowered, he could not get to them,
He chopped his cable from the bow and picked them up with skill.

When we reached Golden Bay our comrades were all round,
Even with our dory gone, come up off the fishing grounds,
To try and tell what happened it was very hard to know,
But Duke and Murphy they were sank in fathoms down below.

Your heart was hard a liar and for Reilly it would ache,
He was the young commander and those two boys did take,
He thought that he would come to blame, saluting these poor boys,
To speak the true of Reilly in fact he was surprised.

That thrilling tale ran through the bay most dreadful to be told,
To a mother dared to shed her tears, would make your blood run cold,
To see the aged mothers and standing there to say,
Crying, 'Reilly boy, where is our sons? Are they drownèd in the bay?'

May the help of providence come for the mothers and wives should weep,
For the loss of their sons and husbands that's buried in the deep,
I hope that the Almighty will cause their sorrows to fade,
And pray for them that's drownèd may their souls rest in peace.