Anach Cuan

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Also named Eanach Dhúin and Annaghdown. This poem was composed by the travelling Irish poet, Antoine Ó Raifteiri, as a more...

Also named Eanach Dhúin and Annaghdown. This poem was composed by the travelling Irish poet, Antoine Ó Raifteiri, as a lament of the twenty people from Annaghdown (Anach Cuan) who drowned at Menlo, Galway, on 4 September 1828 while on their way to a fair in Galway. Annaghdown is a parish in County Galway, Ireland. It takes its name from Eanach Dhúin, Irish for “the marsh of the fort”.

From Áine Cooke

About thirty villagers with ten sheep and other goods set off in an old boat from the shores of Lough Corrib to go the eight miles into Galway. In those days there was no direct road, and the lake was the nearest way. The boat was rotten, and within two miles of Galway it sprung a leak. One of the men tried to plug it with his coat, and pressing with his heel to drive it more firmly in, drove the whole plank out of the boat. In a few seconds all of these poor people were struggling in the water, and although they were close to land, nineteen of them drowned, eleven men and eight women.

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If my health is spared I'll be long relating,
Of the boat that sailed out from Anach Cuan,
And the keening after of mother and father,
As the laying out of each corpse was done.

Oh King of Graces, who died to save us,
It was a small affair but for one or two,
But a boat-load bravely on a calm sailing,
Without storm or rain to be swept to doom.

The boat sprang a leak and left all those people,
And frightened sheep out adrift on the tide,
It beats all telling what fate befell them,
Eleven strong men and eight women died.

Young boys they were lying where crops were ripening,
From the strength of youth they were borne away,
In their wedding clothes for their wake they robed them,
Oh King of Glory man's hope is vain.

May burning mountains come tumbling downward,
On that place of drowning may curses fall,
Full many the soul it has left in mourning,
And left without hope of a bright day's dawn.

The cause of their fate was no fault of sailing,
It was the boat that failed them the 'Caisleán Nua,'
And left me to make with a heart that's breaking,
This sad lamentation for Anach Cuan.

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