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Old 06-04-2002, 09:17 PM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Sunnyvale, California
Posts: 60


A nice irishman, named Brendan Kelly, came up to me last Thursday and said, "I have a song I think you'd like
to hear". He says , "I think you'd find it interesting, since you like Gordon Lightfoot".

So he brings me the cd, today.
The Artist: Christy Moore, CD: Ride On, Date: 1984
The song of interest: Back Home in Derry, written by Bobby Sands, an irish political.

The song strongly resembles, The Wreck.

Has anyone heard this song or know anything about it?
Which was written first, for example?

Found this at:

Back Home in Derry

Provided by Alex Cormack. Updates from Colm Mc Dermott and Damian Kieran.

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 horse 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


Bobby Sands


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Old 02-26-2003, 07:35 PM   #2
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I have the tape in a pile somewhere in the basement. I remember being horrified when I heard it.
As I recall the C. Moore song came first.
It was explained to me that, that style of ballad was a typical formula used in song writing and I shouldn't consider it as stolen.
After all, the "Wreck" stands on it's own.
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Old 05-07-2003, 02:19 PM   #3
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I have scoured the internet trying to find the year that the late Bobby Sands wrote "Back Home In Derry" and cannot. At first I thought he may have written it during his second and last stay in prison but I cannot find anything to support that. There has to be a date out there somewhere I suppose but I cannot find it (I spent about an hour one night searching).

I also can't find any evidence that Lightfoot lifted anything, not even a particular style from any Irish folk music. Nothing in regards to this is dated except for Lightfoot's "The Wreck". That being the case, it appears that others' have attempted to use Lightfoot's song.

It is very common for musicians to follow a certain "style" for a particular song. If you think about it, everything that a musician writes has been influenced by something or somebody. They may like the sound of a chord progression in one song and tie it in with something else. Listening to other famous musicians talk about where ideas came from I have yet hear any of them say they are 100% original. Coming up with any new song all one has is to rely on what they have already heard. Probably mostly on a subconscience level too.

"The Wreck" is an orginal Lightfoot masterpiece and if there was any suspicion about where it came from, you can bet somebody would have sued him because of the HUGE success and shot in the arm that song was for Lightfoot. If it is a commonly used style in Irish folk music than so be it. That's what it's there for.
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Old 05-13-2003, 06:51 AM   #4
Auburn Annie
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Found this on the site: ****************************************

From: JaneDoh38 (
Subject: Re: Gordon Lightfoot
View: Complete Thread (12 articles)
Original Format
Date: 1999/05/09

>There are many contemporary artists who have "meaning" and will
>be remembered. Some are quite Canadian in fact (thinking about the
>Rheos here, who do a phenomenal version of Ed Fitz)

I had said my piece, made my point and was prepared to move on, but you had to
go and mention the Rheos.
If they aren't a perfect example of disrespect of a legend, I don't know what
is. They did something so disgusting and repugnant, that I don't know how the
hell they weren't sued for it.

They took Gord's great song about the Edmund Fitz, recorded it, used it for
their own profit and gain, and then had the nerve to accuse Mr. Lightfoot of
stealing the melody!

It seems that some hitchhikers from Ireland once told them that it the melody
was from an old Irish folk song from the town of Derry. It turns out an Irish
folk singer named Christy Moore, had recorded a protest song called "Back Home
in Derry" and used the melody from "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." But
somehow the hitchhikers and the Rheos thought that the song preceded
Lightfoot's. In reality, Moore's tune came out in 1984, a full six years after
Lightfoot's song was released and Mr. Moore credits Gordon Lightfoot as the
author of the melody.
I understand that we are all human and people are allowed to make mistakes. It
is quite possible that the Rheos really did think that the Irish tune was older
than the song about the Fitzgerald, but they certainly have been given the
correct info since then, yet their website still has the erroneous and
inflammatory statements about Gordon lifting the melody. They have never
apologized or admitted they were wrong. In my opinion, this makes them the scum
of the earth. Harsh words, I know, but to accuse a songwriter of stealing a
song is reprehensible. To then actually record that person's song and call him
a thief while doing it, is an act so foul and despicable that they have earned
my utmost contempt. I'm sorry, that I'm giving them more attention then they
deserve, but the fact that someone would use them in a thread about Gordon
Lightfoot, in order to make a point about what great contemporary Canadian
groups there are, is an irony so massive that it could not stand uncommented

See also a discussion on this site at
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Old 05-13-2003, 02:02 PM   #5
gwen snyder
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Go Annie
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Old 05-14-2003, 09:43 AM   #6
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Go off on em
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Old 05-14-2003, 10:05 AM   #7
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Interesting but I think there is one flaw in that statement from the newsgroup. Christy Moore did not write "Back Home In Derry" but it is true that it came out in the 80's. Bobby Sands wrote "Back Home In Derry" but I am not sure what year he wrote it. Bobby Sands wrote the lyrics and used Lightfoot's music. Finally, I found what I was looking for. Read below...


Back Home In Derry

Music by Gordon Lightfoot and lyrics by B. Sands. First made popular by Christy Moore on his recording "Ride On" in 1984.

Notes from Kathleen: We first I heard this song in a little pub somewhere and the performer wrote the words down on a bar napkin. I remember that we gave him a couple of free pints to say thanks. Please read below background on this song and original words presented to us by James Precious.

Following is background on the song and original words by James Precious

I was just surfin' on through when I noticed you "never found the undisputed origin" of the marvelous "Back Home in Derry". Pens & paper at the ready, folks - here we go...

"Back Home in Derry" was written by Bobby Sands (who also used the pen name Marcella). Sands is an Irishman who is more famous (or one should say: notorious) for his involvement with the IRA & as a hunger striker than he is as a poet & songwriter.

As authority, may I cite the great Christy Moore? Christy includes this song in his repertoire and acknowledges Sands as the creator of the song. In his book "One Voice: My life in Song" Christy writes that he first came across the song when "I was staying in a house in Derry after an H-block concert and a young lad recently released sang this song..."

That this eloquent and poignant song of resistance and rebellion in Irish history was in fact created by a man involved with terrorism in the here-and-now adds a further level of meaning and a very unsettling edge to the ballad. It also made the song highly controversial & got it banned, but Christy goes on to note that "despite it being banned it has entered the national repertoire and has been recorded by a thousand ballad bands and will long outlive its detractors and severest critics."

I was struck by this extraordinary song when I first heard it (which is saying something as the album I heard it on (Christy Moore's "Ride On") is chockablock with fabulous songs). Glancing at the sleeve notes I saw that Christy himself hadn't written it, but that one "B. Sands" was the creator, but at the time, I didn't think much of this.

It took a while before I realised that B. Sands esq. - eloquent bard & poet - was the famous IRA man, & (like many people I suspect in the North or the mainland), my jaw hit the floor and I was quite shocked (though I knew Christy was famous for his pro-Republican sympathies). Christy himself said that he'd been lambasted by people for including a terrorist's song in his repertoire.

|t's also kind of surprising to discover that this great song has a modern provenance, rather than stemming from the period of Irish history it ostensibly depicts: the forced deportation of Irish rebels to Australia. The lyrics draws on history and tradition, yet was created in modern times. This, and also the creator's direct connection with terrorism/freedom fighting, does (I think) add another dimension to the song,. It makes the ballad and the sentiments of sorrow and fierce rebellion it expresses all the more vivid, immediate and controversial; even as I said - disturbing. It is however - at the end of the day - a beautiful piece of work & I'm sure both Bobby Sands & Christy Moore would be happy with the song spreading on napkins for a pint of the black stuff.


With the above, I think that this issue can finally be laid to rest. "The Wreck" is a Lightfoot original and many others' have borrowed that haunting melody. A couple of months ago, I wrote a very long history about "Back Home In Derry" and even put in dates in which Bobby Sands was writing music, jail terms and even his hunger strike in prison that killed him. Although the dates I mentioned were chronologically correct, I could not find the date in which B. Sands wrote "Back Home In Derry" and therefore decided not to post all the info. With all that I read about this topic and the life of B. Sands, the only conclusion that I could logically come up with was that Lightfoot was the creator of "The Wreck", B. Sands heard it and wrote new lyrics for it. Sands life at the time would have put him smack dab into path of Lightfoot's music. I highly doubt that Sands could invent something as complex and original as the music of "The Wreck". Actually to be quite blunt, it would have been near impossible for Sands to come up with that.

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Old 01-09-2004, 06:24 PM   #8
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hello from belfast ireland. re. back home on derry. bobby sands did write it , but another prisoner brendan mcfarlane used lightfoots music.
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Old 01-09-2004, 06:26 PM   #9
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Old 11-27-2010, 08:28 PM   #10
m greene
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Default Re: Back Home in Derry Wreck Resemblance?

Wreck of the Edmund Eitzgerald came first.

The Bobby Sands song "Back Home in Derry" first appeared on the 1983 album " The Spirit of Irish Freedom" also by Christy Moore. Credit is given to Lightfoot for the music on this album although for some bizarre reason/oversight the credit does not appear on the 1984 album Ride On.

Sands wrote these lyrics for his Derry comrades in the H Blocks of the prison of Long Kesh sometime in the late 70's before the second republican prisoner Hunger Strike of 1981 in which he died after 66 days without food.

The lyrics of the song refer to the deportment, by the British Government, of Irish Republican rebels to Tasmania (Van Diemens Land) in Australia for their part in the Robert Emmet inspired rebellion of 1803.

I hope this clears up the confusion.
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Old 11-30-2010, 06:36 PM   #11
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Default Re: Back Home in Derry Wreck Resemblance?

There was a thread about this subject some time ago (back in 2008?) and as I recall...Gordon had incorporated the use of or otherwise was influenced by a traditional, Irish "dirge" (as he has referred to it as such) when composing the music for "The Wreck...". If there is a specific traditional Irish song that Gordon based his melody on that pre-dates modern times, I do not know and have yet to hear it. At some point, either Christy Moore (brother of Barry Moore a.k.a Luka Bloom) and/or some others considered that perhaps Bobby had also followed the melody or similar dirge of a traditional (public domain) song as Gordon may have.

Last edited by podunklander; 11-30-2010 at 06:43 PM.
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:24 AM   #12
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Default Re: Back Home in Derry Wreck Resemblance?

Originally Posted by m greene View Post
Sands wrote these lyrics for his Derry comrades in the H Blocks of the prison of Long Kesh sometime in the late 70's before the second republican prisoner Hunger Strike of 1981 in which he died after 66 days without food.

and this, straight from his cellmate:
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