Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Niver Budge - a poem from Greba / Greyabbey


I was given these a while ago and thought I should post them here to see if anyone out there can shed some light on the story. These are two related poems about a boat which was built at the 'Breek Hole' or 'Brick Hole' on the shore near Greyabbey around 1879. The construction was overseen by Mr H S Brookes, the land agent of Major General W E Montgomery (1847 - 1927) of Rosemount. While she was being built one of the locals declared 'boys she'll niver budge', and the name stuck.

The 'Niver Budge' was 20 -30 tonnes and was used to transport lime from Castle Espie, coal from England and seaweed from Strangford Lough. The poem below is said to have been written by Robert McKay, who was one of the crew:

The Niver Budge

Come all you seamen, and launch men, too
And a dismal story I'll tell you
Of terrible hardships; these were so,
On board the 'Niver Budge' not long ago.

To the 'Niver Budge' boys we do belong,
A well built vessel, both stout and strong,
Mr Brooks being her captain's name
A better seaman ne'er crossed the main.

Robert Wright - he is a man of fame
And bold Ned Kane - you may know the same,
For Sheely's Island we now set sail
For gravel bound; with a pleasant gale.

Bold McKay he loud did bawl,
"Lower your mainsail, here comes a squall"
He was a sailor, both stout and true
As ever sailed in the Budge's crew.

Out spoke bold Hagan, and this did say
"I think my brave boys, we'll have some tay,
We got no meat since we left the shore
And I'm afraid we'll return no more."

Mr Brookes he was an honest man
He took his seamen all by the hand
"Rabbie Reid", said he, "ye need no fear
For soon you'll see your Louisa dear".

As the Nut Bank it came into view,
Our gallant seamen their anchor threw.
And every man they held up their hand
And thanked God they were near the land.

Twas then that the small boat was launched,
Through wind and wave, for to take her chance,
She filled with water up to the brim
And we got a cart for to draw her in.

After this near disaster, the hull lay near Mid Isle at Greyabbey for years (pictured above), but eventually Major General Montgomery allowed the Scouts who camped on the island to break her up for firewood.

As you might expect from the locality, an Ulster-Scots version was also written - in fact, the person who gave both to me said that the Ulster-Scots one was written first. However I only have some fragments of it, which are below, and spelled as provided to me:

The Niver Budge

Ou'l Ned Kane at the helm did stand
By the help of God, boys weel reach the land
At Ned's word the sails did fill
And they steered her for Greba Mill

Keptain Brooks being a dacent man
Tuck his sailors by the han
Rabby Reid ye needny fear
For soon you will see your Louisa dear.

Up spoke boul Hagans
And thus did say
A'll put the tay pot on for a drap o tay

I've been looking at some old maps of the coastline between Greyabbey (Greba) and Kircubbin, and have found some interesting old Scottish-influenced place names such as Bloody Burn Bay (which of course the Bloody Burn flows into) and Bank O Bonnie.