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Hills of Isle au Haut

[Gordon Bok]

The Isle au Haut is part of of Acadia National Park in Main, supported mainly by fishing.

The Fagans sang Gordon Bok’s song The Hills of Isle au Haut in 2002 on their CD Turning Fine. They commented:

We love a good nautical chorus. Margaret and Bob [Fagan] learned this one from Richie Howitt in the days when Richie put together their first acoustic band, The Tempe Tipsters. Isle au Haut is off the coast of Maine in North Eastern USA.

Danny Spooner sang Hills of Isle au Haut on his 2007 anthology Years of Spooner. He noted:

This wonderful song is the work of Gordon Bok, and in the 1980s I got it from the master Drambuie drinker and chorus leader Dave Alexander. Dave is unfortunately no longer with us but I hear him every time I sing this song. My thanks then go both to Gordon for a great song and Dave for a great gift.


Danny Spooner sings Hills of Isle au Haut

Away to the westward
Is the place a man should go,
Where the fishing’s always easy
And there ain’t no ice or snow.

Chorus (after each verse):
I’ll haul down the sail
Where the bays run together,
Bide away my days
On the hills of Isle au Haut.

Them Plymouth girls are fine,
Put their hearts in your hand;
And the Plymouth boys are able,
First-class sailors, every man.

And the trouble with old Martir,
You don’t try her in a trawler,
Them Bay of Biscay gales
Roll yer head off yer shoulder.

And the winters drive you crazy,
And the fishing’s hard and slow;
You’re a damned fool if you stay,
But there’s no better place to go.