Mary L. MacKay

picture of Elizabeth (Eli) Dale

Eli Dale
Portland, Maine

O come, all ye hearty haddockers, who winter fishing go,
And brave the seas upon the Banks in stormy winds and snow
And ye who love hard driving, come and listen to my lay
Of the run we made from Portland on the Mary L. MacKay.

We hung the muslin on her; the wind began to hum,
Twenty Nova Scotia men chock full of Portland rum;
Mainsail, foresail, jib and jumbo, wild December day,
As we passed Cape Elizabeth and slugged for Fundy Bay.

We slammed her by Monhegan as the gale began to scream,
Our vessel took to dancing in a way that was no dream;
A howler o'er the top rall; we steered sou'west away,
Oh, she was a hound for running, was the Mary L. MacKay.

"Oh, storm along and drive along, punch her through the ribs!
Don't mind your boarding combers as the solid green she dips;
Just mind your eye and watch the wheel," our skipper he did say;
"Clear decks we'll sport tomorrow on the Mary L. MacKay."

We slammed her to Matinicus; the skipper hauled the log,
"Sixteen knots! Lord Harry, ain't she just the gal to jog?"
The half-canned wheelsman shouted, as he swung her on her way,
"Just watch me tear the mains'l off the Mary L. MacKay."

The rum was passing merrily; the gang was feeling grand,
Long necks dancing in her wake from where we left the land;
Our skipper he kept sober, for he knew how things would lay,
And he made us furl the mains'l on the Mary L. MacKay.

We laced our wheelsman to the box as he steered her through the gloom.
A big sea hove his dory-mate right over the main-boom;
It tore the oilpants off his legs, and you could hear him say,
"There's a power of water flying o'er the Mary L. MacKay."

Our skipper didn't care to make his wife a widow yet,
He swung her off to Yarmouth Cape with just her fores'l set;
And passed Fourchu next morning, and shot in at break of day,
And soon in sheltering harbour lay the Mary L. MacKay.

From Portland, Maine, to Yarmouth Sound two-twenty miles we ran,
In eighteen hours, me bully boys, now beat that if you can;
The gang said it was seamanship; the skipper he kept dumb,
But the force that drove our vessel was the power of Portland rum!

(From Songs and Ballads of Nova Scotia, Helen Creighton,
published by J. M. Dent & Sons, Toronto, Canada, 1933, pp. 284-287.
Based on a poem by Frederick William Wallace
published in The Canadian Fisherman in 1914.
The poem was adapted for singing by Edmund Henneberry
of Devil's Island, Nova Scotia.
According to Wallace this song was actually based on his experience
aboard the schooner Effie Morrissey in December of 1913.
Evidently "Mary L. MacKay" made for a better rhyme.)

About the Song
Download MP3 sample file
Back to the List of Songs
Return to Roll & Go Home Page

picture of Norris Dale

Norris Dale
Portland, Maine