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16th Jun 2020

WATCH: New music video takes viewers on a dark journey down the Grand Canal

James Fenton

Robert John Ardiff has a new video out and it takes viewers on a spooky journey down the Grand Canal.

The Co. Meath musician has seen his profile soar in recent months, with his EP Whistle In The Dark gaining rave reviews upon its release last month. One of the songs on the album is a cover of a song called The 13th Lock, which Robert described to Lovin Dublin as a ‘murder ballad’. It was originally performed by an Irish traditional singer by the name of Frank Harte and Robert told us that he found “courtesy of a Radio One documentary about the Grand Canal and the people who worked on it. It’s essentially a murder ballad about a fella sailing down the canal with the devil on board.”

Robert has released an accompanying music video, directed by Eoin Heaney, which was filmed between The Camac and Dolphin’s Barn bridge. The song itself references places like Dolphin’s Barn and Inchicore and there’s definitely an eerie feel to the tune and the video.

You can check out the clip below, with the lyrics underneath, and if you want to read more from Robert, our in-depth interview with him can be found via this link.


A bright born day in the month of May

And a weeping group stands by

To bid adieu to the gallant crew

That sail as the sun mounts high

Leaning over the waves are the mariners brave

Who reck not of storm nor rock

Though they laugh and smoke and they jest and joke

Though they’re bound for the thirteenth lock

‘Oh skipper stay’ quoth a mariner gay

Who stood nigh Marrowbone Lane

‘I’m a sailor old and I trow as bold

As what roves on this angry main’

Thirteen, be still, ’tis a number ill

Beware young man, don’t mock

Right scomfully laughed the captaincy

We are bound for the 13th Lock

‘Oh Pat, beware’ cried a damsel fair

Sail not today my dear

We warn, don’t scorn, ’tis Friday morn

The day true mariners fear

And what would I do Pat, if I lost you

Sure my heart couldn’t stand the shock’

Right ‘merrily’ cried the captaincy

We are bound for the 13th Lock

‘Cease love, those sighs, dim not your eyes

With beauty-killing tears

Though I may be bound I’ll come back sound

So calm your woman’s fears

And I’ll bring to thee a chimpanzee

A parrot, a jabberwock

A kangaroo and a cockatoo

From the wilds of the Thirteenth Lock

The ship set sail while a piercing wail

Rang out from the womankind

‘Port yer helm a-lee’ cried the captaincy

And we’ll catch the southern wind

Spur up your steed to its fastest speed

’Tis well past twelve o’clock

We should sight the shore of Inchicore

Then ho! for the Thirteenth Lock

But never the shore of Inchicore

Could the man at the masthead see

Though he craned his neck to the quarter deck

He came and thus spake he

Skipper, ’tis true that I’m your crew

Your cook, mate-all in stock

But I’m hanged if I’ll steer for a place so queer

As the cursed 13th Lock

‘Let us change our way till another day

And smoke and spin a yarn

On the evening’s tide we’ll at anchor ride

In the bay of Dolphin’s Barn’

Then the skipper quick gave a mighty kick

And the mariner felt the shock

And the crew found a grave ’neath the watery wave

On the way to the Thirteenth Lock,

Thus ever’ quoth he, ‘perish mutiny’

And turned him round with a smile.

About and around, and lo, he found

A shape behind the while.

With fiery eyes and horns of size

And a tail that might Peter shock

At the skipper’s gape up spake the shape

‘I’m bound for the Thirteenth Lock’

By the harbour sands a maiden stands

With her gaze fixed out to sea

Though she’ll watch in vain, for never again

Will he come with that chimpanzee

And a man stands, wringing both his hands

His face like a marble block

For the skipper bold borrowed half his gold

Before he sailed for the Thirteenth Lock