Theresa O’Connor

Paddy Lie Back — Irish History in Song

Irish sailors made up a disproportionally-large part of crews the of British merchant and navy ships, and so there are many sea chanties of Irish origin, or about Irishmen, or the like. This is a fairly typical one.

Note that, before the construction of the Panama Canal, Valparaíso was a busy, bustling port town for the merchant traffic going around Cape Horn.

’Twas a cold and frosty morning in December
And all of me money it was spent
Where it went to, oh Lord, I can’t remember
So down to the shipping office went

Sing Paddy lie back (sing Paddy lie back)
Take in your slack (take in your slack)
Take your turn, put on your caps, and leap aboard!
About ships for England boys be handy,
For we’re bound for Valparaíso ’round the Horn!

Oh, last night there was a great demand for sailors
For the colonies, for ’Frisco and for France
So I shipped aboard a limey barque, the Hotspur
And was paraletic drunk before I went

There were Frenchmen, there were Germans, there were Russians
And there was jolly Jacques came just across from France
And not one of them could speak a word of English
But they’d answer to the name of Bill or Dan

I woke up in the morning sick and sore
I wished I’d never sailed away again
Then a voice it came thunderin’ through the floor
Get up and pay attention to your name

I wish that I was in the Jolly Sailor
With Molly or with Kitty on me knee
Now I see most any men are sailors
And with me flipper I wipe away me tears