Waterways Ireland | Haunted 13th Lock

Haunted 13th Lock

For those of you who are superstitious, rumours of hauntings at Lock 13 on the Grand Canal may come as no surprise, as the number has, for many generations been considered unlucky. It would appear from this poem that Irish Politician and writer, Arthur Griffin felt the same...  

Although he may have chosen the lock for its unlucky number. Boatmen claimed that the 13th lock was haunted as the canal had been dug through a graveyard there.

​The Thirteenth Lock

Arthur Griffith (1871 - 1922)

Image via dublincity.ie

Every night of the year about twelve of the clock

The spirits and spooks of the dread thirteenth lock

Sit winging their bodies a-this and that way

And singing in chorus: “Ri tooril li lay.”

Ri tooril li looril ri tooril li lay

Ri tooril li looril ri tooril li lay

Oh what would you think sir, and what would you say?

If you met with a ghost singing “Tooril li lay.”

There once was a captain so gallant and bold

He scorned all the warnings of young and of old

“Do you think, you poor oinseachs,” he’d scornfully say,

“That I’d fear a ghost sing “Tooril li lay.”

But one night at twelve coming home from Athy

He halted his ship when the lock he came nigh

And he jeered at the ghosts sitting there by the say

All mournfully singing “Ri tooril li lay.”

When we came to the harbour his wife good and true

Says “Jamesie my darling. Oh that it’s you.

And what will I get for your dinner ntoday?

“Oh Janey,” he answered, “Ri tooril li lay.”

Then off to the manager’s office he went

The log of the voyage to him to present

The manager, nodding, said “Very fine day,”

“Och aye,” says the captain “Ri tooril li lay.”

The manager jumped like a man on a tack

And he ups and he gives the poor captain the sack

And home to his wife went the sailor away

A-sighing and sobbing “Ri tooril li lay.”

When he got to his home sure he took to his bed

And to questions they asked and to all that they said

He just wagged his head in a sorrowful way

And mournfully answered “Ri tooril li lay.”

The doctor was sent for and just shook his head

“the divil a know I know what ’tis.” he said

“There’s no such disease in the Pharmacopay

That I ever heard tell of as “Ri tooril li lay.”

That evening at midnight the bold captain died

With his poor weeping wife and his friends by his side

And the last words he said when they asked him to pray

Were “Tooril li tooril. Ri tooril li lay.”

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