Monday, January 9, 2012

The Academy of Mr Paddy West


You have heard of the academy of Mister Paddy West?
For style and popularity, my school it is the best.
For I've only room for forty and I'm boarding seventy-four
And sure, by Jesus, who is that, comes knocking on my door?

O me name is Patrick Dooley and I've dragged me weary way
All the way from dear old Ireland and I wants to go to sea.
"Come in, me friend," says Paddy, "you're as safe as house ashore,
You're an Irishman and a gentleman and a townie of me own."

"Now, observe this hole within the wall, that is a furnace door,
And there is the shovel and stone, me boys, that lay upon the floor.
You take the shovel and the stones and through the furnace go,
And I'll make you a western Ocean fireman with a dungaree jacket, O!"

Oh we know the way to Auckland and the lights on Sydney Head
We've saved our lives and a little beside on a cold and North Sea wreck;
O I've crossed the Western Ocean in the Gulf of Capricorn.
And I've doffed me glass to a Chinese lass in the ricefields of Siam,

And I've said adieu to a wild old life as a sailor on the seas
I've been down South and way up North and odd ports in between.
I've sung me songs and doffed me cap as I rounded of the Horn
And by cripes I've sworn by Paddy West since the day that I was born.

From Warren Fahey's Australian Folk Songs and Bush Ballads.  This song from the History Workshop pamphlet, Shellback: Reminisces of Ben Bright, Mariner, collected by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger.  From Warren's notes:

Paddy West is a mythical figure in maritime folklore known for operating a dodgy school for would-be sailors.

The illustration to this post is a photograph of Hobson's Bay Railway Pier, Sandridge (Now Station Pier, Port Melbourne) about 1878.

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