MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

The Kate Of Branch

Mrs. Ryan NFLD 2 Tape 14 Track 3
St. Catherine's Audio:

Mrs. Ryan: (sings) Ye fishermen of…
LEACH: Wait a minute... wait a minute. All right now go.
MRS.RYAN: (sings)

Ye fishermen of Salmonier I pray ye all sit down
And hear about the "Kate of Branch" that's lately been run down
As her crew lay on their virgin beds taking their silent sleep
It's little they thought before daylight they'd slumber in the deep

Now the man-o'-war that run 'em down the "Royal" it was her name
Commanded by Captain Butler on him we'll lay no blame
But English held the morning watch twas he let out the light
He is supposed to loge that boat and crew that dark and stormy night

Jimmy Barry coming from Broad Cove William Daly's body found
He thought he’d have him buried in consecrated ground
He brought him into St. Mary' s wrapped up into a sail
If your heart was made of marble it's for him you would feel

Eight o'clock on Sunday morning
Oh good luck to the brave.

(Speaks) I cant...record that over again.
LEACH: All right go ahead
MRS. RYAN: Can you do that
LEACH: Yeah l can take care of it, just go ahead

Mrs, Ryan: (sings)

Eight oh, Good luck to the brave St.Mary's men they are the real true blue
They prepared his shroud and coffin and what more then couId they do
Besides a boat to bring him home all on a certain day
That he may be waked among his friends and buried in the clay

Eight o’clock on Sunday morning the boat reached Salmonier
Her colours flew half mast me boys and the morning shined out clear
To see his aged mother and she crying in her room
She cries my dear young dead son you’re cut down in your bloom

(Speaks) That’s a hard one to sing sir. That is,. ……real hard.

[Mrs. Ryan tells the story of the Kate of Branch.]

...But ah, the t'ing...there's seven, seven of a crew y’know. There's seven men of her crew would be-
LEACH: There' s seven on this boat.
MRS. RYAN: On this boat ah boat and she was anchored up at the Sha- Shag rocks on a fishing ground, you know. And, ah, just so foggy. It’s always foggy there. I t’ink it was out near Wild Cove. Anyway, near Wild Cove, in the direction of Wild Cove she was. And, ah, it was foggy and they had their lights up and they, ah, this man had a change of watch come on about two o’clock, just beginning to be dawn. But yet 'twasn’t dawn, when the man-o-war blew and __________ he jus' blew. And he was there and he didn't mind the lights...the put up the lights they were out that time, by that time o' de morning. She was bearing down and before he had time to get 'em she appeared out o' de fog and ran ‘em. Ran right into 'em. Now English was saved. I don' know if he was the only one but l know there were poor- the
poor skipper of the craft he was aft and didn't know what was gain on at all. They' ah generally sleep aft you know. And he ah, before he ‘ad time, before he 'ad time to get out. Anyway he was drowning. I think they were all, l t'nk they all took to the boats except Billy Daly, thaat's why the song is named as far as l know. But ah-

LEACH: Did the man o' war turn about, come about?

Mrs. Ryan: The man o' war that run, ran em down. The “Royal” ‘twas her name. Well now, she came into Salmonier they used to lay here to Salmonier for a while then, men o' war. She came in to Salmonier, and they made apologies.
I don't know if they gave 'em any money for the cost of the…

LEACH: Did they know they had run 'em down or did they…

MRS. RYAN: Oh yes, oh yes they knew. They had to. They, ah, they came in. Of course they all gave out that the lights were out on the vessel and he didn’t see, the man-o-war didn’t see 'em till he ran over 'em. She was laying at anchor l think. They had no rules at that time of ship's courses or anythin'. She was out there on the fishing ground. They had her trawls or trap out or whatever they had to catch fish.

LEACH: That was how long ago, do you suppose?

MRS. RYAN: Oh over a hundred years.

LEACH: A hundred years?

MRS. RYAN: It's over a hundred yeas, over a hundred years ago. Old Morris
Daley dies about ah, the man that wrote this died about, oh, how long ago? Mus' be about eleven or twelve years ago 'e died. 'E was over ninety and he was a young man then and not married. He was goin' with a girl from St. Mary's an, this is why he puts in the bit about de St. Mary's man. He was married after to the girl from St. Mary's. And old Father St. John. You wouldn't know 'im, but if you did know him, he’s dead this years. He helped 'em to write it, old Father St. John. He helped him, yes. He was a grand bright man. He was the first priest that came here to settle. He was the first setting priest here, the first parish priest. The priest used to have to come then from St. Mary's. He was the first priest here he was a relative of mine, Father Ryan. Young father Ryan, he was there then. He used to come up and have mass; say the mass they called it, in an old cellar. A big cellar, ‘twas a big place, belonged to an old settler of Curtis man, Salmonier. Captain Curtis' cellar. That's where he used to say mass. He used to have to come from St. Mary’s, sometimes on foot to do it. You know this’s a long time since the first settler came here, but still its not very… But still it’s not very far more ahead. But still it’s a lot of things we have now, we didn’t have then. I remember a lot about…..


Sources: Lehr, 1985: 112.
From the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) Song Index and Song Annotation Collection: Goldstein K. MUNFLA 79-1; Goldstein, K. MUNFLA 79-002; Wareham, Wilfred MUNFLA 70-8;

History: The singer Mrs. Ryan, speaks about of the history of the song. She learnt it from Old Morris Daly who had died in his 90’s approximately a decade prior to recording. Mrs. Ryan believes the song to be about 100 years old and that it happened off Wild Cove. It was written by Old Morris Daly in his youth with help from a priest from St. John’s. Father Ryan, a relative of the singer, was the first priest who settled in St. Catherine’s and performed mass in Capt. Curtis’ cellar.

Text: A ship without lights was rammed by a man-o-war on the fishing ground. One body was taken home to his mother to be waked and buried.

Tune: The text is through composed and the melody repeats with each verse. The meter is 4/4. The key is A major with an octave range based on A.

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