I am trying to find out information on a poem that was written about my great, great grand father Michael McNamara from Kilkee, Co. Claire, Ireland. Michael was a fisherman who drowned in a fishing accident along with his brother John McNamara and their deaf cousin whose last name was Houlihan in 1910. The story goes that the three men went out for their daily fishing run. They had an exceptional large catch early that day. Upon bring their catch into shore they decide to go out for one more run. During the second run a storm came upon them and they we unable to get back to shore. The town people attempted to guide the fishermen back to shore by ringing the church bell but to no avail. About a week later the bodies washed up on shore. The family members were able to identify the bodies by the socks that the fishermen wore. Everyone believed that the boat must have capsized during the storm and the fishing nets must have fallen on the men and they drowned. They were able to determine this by the fact that they had piece of the net stuck between their fingers in attempt to ripe the nets and free themselves. In addition it is my understanding that none of the fishermen could swim. The boats that they used to fish were the size of row boats.
The poem was written by an unknown author in the United States who heard about the tragedy. The author circulate the poem in the local Irish social clubs in attempt to rise money for the families of the fishermen. A cousin of mine had a copy of the poem which he provided to me but did not know anything else about the author or any other circumstances about the poem. If anyone has information about the poem, incident or families of these fisherman I would love to hear from you.
PS I have include the poem below:
In Memory of the Three Fishermen Drowned Near Kilkee
I heard a sad story that grieves me of late,
Of three men that lived in Kilkee.
One night they were drowned and they never were found,
By the high gales and swells of the sea.
They fished for a trade, a good living they made,
This sad story to you I’ll relate.
O! the sea must be high that caused them to die
And to meet such a sorrowful fate.
It happened to be on the wild, raging sea,
These three men went fishing one night;
They put their nets out, and stayed thereabout;
O! but soon got a terrible fright.
When the nets they did haul their boat were too small,
The strain on the ropes for to stand;
And they knew by the motion of the waves in the ocean
That they never again would see land.
O! many a year, without any fear
To the “Rocks” these three men did go.
They carried their boats, and they put it afloat
On the ocean, they strongly did row.
O! many a storm they raced and they beat,
Their dear lives were always the stake;
O! the waves they were strong or the nets must go wrong,
Or the shore these men would make.
These men were well trained, a great name they had made,
On the ocean their business they knew;
When young they were brought to the “Rocks” and there
Taught and shown there a lesson or two.
They could read every sign that appear any time
On the ocean, when danger was high,
And the time they could tell, and knew very well
When they look at the stars in the sky.
O! how they drowned? Or can’t they be found
To build o’er their graves a tomb,
And write on its stone, how these three died alone
And met such a sad ending doom?
The youngsters ’twould teach, when the age reach,
To beware of all dangers at sea;
Stronger boats they would make, and less chances they’d take
When such words on this tomb they would see.
O! poor Michael Mack, you will never come back,
For you, men, my heart it feels sore.
When I was a lad I felt happy and glad,
For to see you come inside my door.
And the sweet songs you’d sing to my heart joy you’d bring
And you sang them so willing and free.
May your soul rest in peace, and may it please
That you now in Heaven should be.
A good man was John Mack, sure he never was slack;
This race is the first he lost,
He tried all his might, his boat to keep right,
But, O! my what a terrible cost.
For his home he did care, and all he could spare.
For its use he put it that way.
O! the night he was drowned, may his soul be found
Away up in Heaven that day.
O! the poor dummy boy, always laughing with joy,
His fate was the saddest of all,
His tongue could not call, or talk none at all,
When he in the ocean he did fall,
But with his heart he did speak, his Maker to seek,
To the Heavens his voice it did reach,
His soul may it rest, and be with the blest,
In Heaven, and there find his speech.
Any house on the “Blocks”, if one ever there knocks,
You will find a quick open door,
You’ll get what you need without stint or greed,
With welcome and kindness galore.
The people of Clare, all round everywhere,
Should come to their aid by the score
From the North to the South, from the West to the East,
From all round Erin’s green shore.