Queen of Conamara, The

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  • Teideal (Title): Queen of Conamara, The.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 860205.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 24061.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): song.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Mary E. Johnson.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 10/10/1980.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): unavailable.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): céilí (Larry Lynch).
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Oh, my boat can safely float in the teeth of wind and weather
And outsail the fastest hooker1 between Galway and Kinsale;
When the white foam of the ocean and the sea runs white together,
High she rides, in her pride, like a seagull through the gale.

She is sweet! She is neat! She’s a beauty in every line!
The Queen of Conamara, she’s that bounding barque of mine.

When she’s loaded down with fish till the water laps her gunwale,
Not a drop she’ll take aboard her that would wash a fly away;
From the fleet she speeds out quickly like a greyhound from its kennel,
‘Til she lands her silver store first in old Kinvara bay.

There’s a light shines out afar, and it keeps me from dismaying
When the skies are pink above us and the sea runs white with foam,
In a cot in Conamara there’s a wife and small one praying
To the One who walked the waters once, to bring us safely home.


1. Generic name for a class of single-masted wooden sailing-boats. The bád mór, leathbhád, and gleoiteog differ in terms of size. The púcán – smallest of all – has different rigging. Formerly used for fishing and haulage of cargo (turf, seaweed, animals, provisions, poitín etc) up and down Galway Bay. Since the 1970’s they have undergone a considerable revival and there are regattas all over Conamara every summer between June and September. See the Galway Hooker Association’s website. These boats have also been much celebrated in song; see Ríonach uí Ógáin, ‘In Aghaidh Farraige agus Feothain’: Amhráin Mholta Bád ó Chonamara’ in Ruairí Ó hUiginn (ed.) Foinn agus Fonnadóirí, Léachtaí Choilm Cille 29 (1999), 37-66.

This song was composed by Francis A. Fahy (1854-1935), poet and songwriter from Kinvara, Co. Galway. Joe doesn’t say where he learned it, but it’s probably safe to say that it’s not widespread among traditional singers. He often used it as an element in a presentation for students about fishing and boats, along with Óró, Mo Bháidín which is about the currach, still used today for fishing and lobstering up and down the Conamara coast.