It's an iconic song, known well behind the banks of Gitche Gumee. "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is a hymn to the sailors and shipmen on The Great Lakes, that serves as a prayer, an epic tale, and a solemn reminder of how cruel these inland seas can be.

But did you know the tune that Gordon Lightfoot used for his iconic song inspired a song written during the Irish Rebellion of 1803? In fact, if you're familiar with traditional Irish songs, you've likely  heard it before.

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The late Gordon Lightfoot penned "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" in 1975 after learning from the wreck in a Newsweek article. He had a passion for sailing the Great Lakes from the Canadian side, and was drawn to the ship's story.

Of course, some liberties were taken to tell the heroic tale of the ship as it sailed "fully loaded for Cleveland," (It was actually headed to Zug Island near Detroit). But overall, the story contained as much factual information as Lightfoot could find regarding its final voyage.

The song became his biggest, and most well-known hit, and to this day, that opening, haunting guitar and steel riff will immediately take you back to Lake Superior.


That iconic guitar line has been ingrained in minds for nearly 50 years, and was so haunting, and inspiring, it was actually used for another song about the Irish rebellion of 1803.

"Back Home In Derry" was written by Bobby Sands who had taken part in the infamous 1981 Hunger Strikes in Northern Ireland. He wrote the song from the perspective of Irish Rebels, convicted to exile in Australia during the Irish Rebellion of 1803.

The song was covered by a number of artists through the years, but the most notable version was by an artist named Christy Moore, who took the original poem by Sands, and put it (mostly) to the tune of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Do you think it pays proper tribute to the original?

The Real Edmund Fitzgerald

Draining Lake Superior to Reveal Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Seeing the wreck of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald with any clarity is almost impossible in the cloudy waters of Lake Superior. Blue Star Line has used the latest digital imagery to pull the plug on Michigan's largest lake, to give us a one-of-a-kind view of our state's most legendary sunken ship.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

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