Back Home In Derry

Author: Bobby Sands

Am      Em
In 1803 we sailed out to sea
G            D             Am
Out from the sweet town of Derry
Am                        Em
For Australia bound if we didn’t all drown
G            D          Am
And the marks of our fetters we carried
Am                   Em
In our rusty iron chains we sighed for our weans
Am                    Em
Our good women we left in sorrow
Am                      Em
As the mainsails unfurled, our curses we hurled
G            D           Am
On the English, and thoughts of tomorrow


C   G     Am         G            Am
Oh….. I wish I was back home in Derry
C   G     Am         G            Am
Oh….. I wish I was back home in Derry

At the mouth of the Foyle, bid farewell to the soil
As down below decks we were lying
O’Doherty screamed, woken out of a dream
By a vision of bold Robert dying
The sun burned cruel as we dished out the gruel
Dan O’Connor was down with a fever
Sixty rebels today bound for Botany Bay
How many will meet their reciever


I cursed them to hell as her bow fought the swell
Our ship danced like a moth in the firelight
White horses rode high as the devil passed by
Taking souls to Hades by twilight
Five weeks out to sea, we were now forty-three
Our comrades we buried each morning
In our own slime we were lost in a time
Of endless night without dawning


Van Diemen’s land is a hell for a man
To live out his whole life in slavery
Where the climate is raw and the gun makes the law
Neither wind nor rain care for bravery
Twenty years have gone by, I’ve ended my bond
My comrades ghosts walk behind me
A rebel I came – I’m still the same
On the cold winters night you will find me


More Info

I was playing in Derry and staying with The Barrett Family. After my gig we were gathered in Chamberlain St having a banter and drinking tea when a bit of singing broke out.  A lad, just  home from The Blocks, sang these verses and  subsequently wrote out the words for me.  At the time the name Bobby Sands was not known to the world as it is today.  The following night I played in Bellaghy where the same process took place when I stayed with Scullion.  Later on he “sang” McIlhatton for me and told me it had been written by Bobby Sands with whom he had shared a cell while “On the Blanket”.  The name was becoming known to me.
He used the air of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald from Gordon Lightfoot, an air which I suspect has earlier origins.  My version of Bobby’s song is shorter than the original.