The Princess Victoria

by Colin Urwin

Where the Irish Sea meets the cold Atlantic Swell
The North Channel that the ferry men know well
From Loch Ryan on the Scottish side
To my hometown of Larne they plied
Their trade of passengers and cargo too

On the last day of January fifty three
A nor’ west gale churned up the Irish Sea
As the Princess Victoria
With an air of bold euphoria
Sailed out from the east pier of Stranraer

Model of Princess Victoria in Larne Museum

I was just a babe in arms – my father sailing home to Larne
The day Princess Victoria went down

Captain Ferguson had seen it all before
But a raging wave breached the cargo door
And the scuppers couldn’t clear the deck
The water would make her a wreck
As she listed ten degrees to starboard side

My father never came back home – left my mother all alone
The day Princess Victoria went down

Off Corsewall Point just after eight o’clock
They tried to make the safety of her dock
But cruel fate had decided then
They never would see land again
Not a single child or any of the women

Sometimes at night in my young bed – I heard the tears my mother shed
And I cursed the day my father’s ship went down

They began to send their signals of distress
And the stories of brave seamen still impress
But one hundred and thirty three
Were taken by that heartless sea
As the Princess foundered off the Copeland Islands

Oftentimes I heard it said – the cruel sea gives up her dead
But my mother never laid my father down

On both sides of that narrow stretch of water
Every town and village mourned a son or daughter
And everyone knew someone
Would never see a loved one
The day Princess Victoria went down

All these years have passed and gone – still every time I hear a storm
I think about the day my father drowned
The day Princess Victoria went down

Colin Urwin