> Cyril Tawney > Songs > The Man at the Nore

The Man at the Nore / Keeper of the Eddystone Light

[ Roud 22257 ; Ballad Index PBB120 ; Bodleian Roud 22257 ; DT EDDYNORE ; Mudcat 60153 ; trad.]

Cyril Tawney sang The Man at the Nore in 1963 on his EFDSS album Between Decks and in 1990 on his Neptune Tapes cassette of songs of seafarers and the fairer sex, Sailor’s Delight. The latter recording was also included in 2007 on his posthumous anthology The Song Goes On.

John Roberts and Tony Barrand sang The Man at the Nore Live at Holsteins, Chicago, in November 1982. They noted:

We had The Man at the Nore from Cyril Tawney who put it together from two traditional West Country variants.

Hughie Jones sang The Eddystone Light in 1999 on his Fellside album Seascape. He noted:

The Eddystone Light and The Shark were both gleaned from the singing of one of my heroes, Burl Ives.

Jim Causley sang Keeper of the Eddystone Light on his 2021 album Devonia. He noted:

First appeared on sheet music in 1866 (USA) attributed to a “J. London” and sung by Arthur Lloyd. Widely collected as a humorous sea shanty and made popular again in the 20th century by Burl Ives.


John Roberts and Tony Barrand sing The Man at the Nore

Now my father was the keeper of the Eddystone light
And he married a mermaid one fine night
From this union there came three
Two of ’em was fishes and the other was me
Now when I was but a bit of a slip
I was put in charge of the Nore lightship
I kept my lamps in very good style
Doing of the work according to Hoyle:

Chorus (after each verse):
Oh the raging Nore, the rolling Nore
The waves they tumble o’er and o’er
There’s no such a life to be had on shore
As the one that’s led by the Man at the Nore.

Well, one evening as I was a-trimming of the glim
Singing a verse from the Evening Hymn
I spied by the light of my signal lamp
The form of my mother looking awfully damp
Just then a voice cried out, Ahoy
And there she was just a-sitting on a buoy
That’s meaning a buoy for the ships that sail
And not a boy that’s a juvenile male:

Says I to my mother, Now how do you do
And how’s my father and my sisters two?
Says she, It’s an orph-i-an you are
You’ve only one sister and you’ve got no pa
Your father was drowned with sever-i-al pals
And digested by the cannibals
Of your sisters, one was cooked in a dish
The other one is kept as a talking fish:

Well, at that I wept like a soft-eyed scamp
My tears, they made the waters damp
Says I to my mother, Won’t you step within
You look so wet, just to dry your skin
Says she, I likes the wet, my dear
Says I, Let me offer you the cabin chair
My mother, she looks at me with a frown
It’s owing to my nature that I can’t sit down:

Says my mother, Now never you go on shore
But always remain the Man at the Nore
With that, I caught a glittering scale
And that was the end of my mother’s tale
Now in deference to this maternal wish
I can’t visit my sister, the talking fish
So if you sees her when you gets on shore
Give her the regards of the Man at the Nore: