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Lyr Add: Wreck of the Anne Maguire-1886

Charley Noble 26 Sep 21 - 03:23 PM
Charley Noble 26 Sep 21 - 03:25 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Wreck of the Anne Maguire-1886
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Sep 21 - 03:23 PM

The story of the bark "Anne Maguire" plowing into the ledge in front of Portland Head Light in Maine on Christmas Eve in 1886 has haunted me for years. I finally was able to compose this ballad yesterday, fitting it to the old contra dance tune "Whiskey before Breakfast."

By Charlie Ipcar, ©2021 (9-25-21)
Tune traditional “Whiskey before Breakfast”
Key: D (2/C)

The Wreck of the "Anne C. Maguire"-1886

On a moon lite night so clear,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o,
Portland Head was drawing near,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o!
Our gallant bark sped through the night,
She struck the ledge be-fore the Light,
And it was a totally awesome sight,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o!

The "Anne Maguire" swung half around,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o,
Broadside to the cliff, fast aground,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o,
“All hands on deck!” our Captain cried,
We pounded the deck from side to side,
But she wouldn’t budge so ill she lied,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o!

The year was eighteen eighty-six,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o,
We found ourselves in this helluva fix,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o,
‘Twas Christmas Eve, hard aground,
Capt. O’Neil did us expound,
“Abandon ship, ‘lest we all drown!”
Whiskey for me Johnny-o!

We heaved a ladder o’er the rail,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o!
And tumbled ashore without fail,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o!
The lighthouse keeper and his spouse,
Warmed us up with Liverpool scouse,
And salvaged whiskey for the house,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o!

So early next morn to town we rode,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o!
The ship was bilged, her bottom stove,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o!
Wreckers saved her spars and chains,
Only her standing rigging remained,
While we drowned our sorrows and pain,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o!

Here’s to our Captain where e’er he be,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o!
A friend to the sailor on land or sea,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o!
And may his soul fore’er be blessed,
Of all good fellas he was the best,
He shared the insurance at our request,
Whiskey for me Johnny-o!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreck of the Anne Maguire-1886
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Sep 21 - 03:25 PM

Here's the story:

Annie C. Maguire Wreck-1886

The story of another shipwreck, on Christmas Eve 1886, is replete with Irish characters. The bark Anne C. Maguire (as spelled in newspaper accounts of the time, although later rendered Annie C. Maguire), under command of Captain Daniel O'Neil, an Irish-Canadian, struck the cliff in front of Portland Head Light; the captain said he "couldn't tell how near he was to the cliff and that she struck bow on before he knew where he was. As soon as she struck the heavy sea and wind swung her around broadside to the cliff in the position" she eventually settled.

The 217-ton bark was originally the well-known clipper ship Golden State, built and finished in New York on January 10, 1852. "Many were the fine passages she made between New York and San Francisco in the balmy days of the California trade," as a local newspaper described it (see Daily Eastern Argus, 28 December 1886). The ship was later purchased by the Irish-Canadian firm of D. & J. Maguire of Quebec, renamed, and put under the British flag to be engaged in the South American trade. Capt. O'Neil made many trips between Buenos Ayres, Argentina, and Portland, Maine before the climatic finale. A local paper sympathized with her captain by stating, "it seems most unfortunate for her master, that knowing Portland harbor so well he should have laid her bones so near port." The paper also wrote that it "speaks well of her New York builders that after nearly 35 years constant buffeting in every port of the globe her frame and timbers were in splendid condition" and she would have had many more seafaring days ahead of her.

On December 27th, Captain A. D. Boyd and Charles Goddard (who lived near the lighthouse) surveyed the wreck and said there was no hope of saving her. The vessel was bilged, her bottom was "badly stove" and she would "undoubtedly go to pieces in the first storm." "Wreckers" saved the ship's chains, anchors, spars, and rigging; nothing but the hull, masts and standing rigging remained. (Daily Eastern Argus, 28 December 1886). A local deputy sheriff attached the ship on a writ of debt, as the owners of the ill-fated vessel were heavily in arrears; ironically the authorities had already been waiting to seize her before she struck Portland Head. On December 29th, the ship was put up for auction and a local man had the highest bid of $177.50. But before even what was left of the ship could be salvaged, a New Year's Day storm finished the job of destroying her.

The crew of nine men, plus the captain, his wife, and two mates, were all safely brought ashore by lighthouse keeper Joshua F. Strout and his son Joseph, who had been alerted by the cries of the crew. Mrs. Strout prepared a meal for the crew, which she served in the engine room of the lighthouse. According to one legend, two cases of Scotch whisky were also brought ashore and the crew members quickly became "three sheets to the wind."

On the afternoon of December 26th, the crew went to Portland and took up quarters at the popular Sailor's Home of Mrs. Margaret Barry Musgrave (a native of County Cork) and her son John on Fore Street. Capt. O'Neil and his wife Catherine went to stay with their friends Capt. James Patrick and Mary Duddy Bogan in Portland (they were the grandparents of noted poet and critic Louise Bogan of NYC). O'Neil moved into a home on Danforth Street early in 1887 and spent the remainder of his days as a master mariner out of Portland. To this day there is speculation that the entire wreck affair was part of an insurance scam.

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