> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > Paddy and the Whale

Paddy and the Whale / Paddy Maloney

[ Roud 6342 ; Ballad Index GrMa067 ; trad.]

Ewan MacColl sang Paddy and the Whale, a song about the 1890s Antarctic finn and blue whale fishing, in 1957 on his and A.L. Lloyd’s Riverside album Thar She Blows! (reissued in the 1960s on the Washington label as Whaling Ballads). Lloyd sang it again in 1967 on his album Leviathan! Ballads and Songs of the Whaling Trade, where he was accompanied by Alf Edwards, ocarina; Dave Swarbrick, fiddle; Martin Carthy, mandolin; and Trevor Lucas and Martyn Wyndham-Read singing chorus.

A.L. Lloyd commented in the latter album’s sleeve notes:

From the latter days of whaling is this jokey remake of the Jonah legend. South Georgia lies east of Cape Horn, toward the fringes of Antarctic. Till recently there was a land station there, to which the whales were brought for flensing and processing. Presumably Paddy and the Whale originated late in the 19th century, though it’s debatable whether it was a sea-song first and a stage-song after, or t’other way round. Irish stage comedians knew it, at perhaps it was on of them who set the words to the tune of The Cobbler’s Ball.


Well, Paddy Maloney left Ireland in glee.
He had a strange notion to sail the Ross Sea.
He shipped in a whalecatcher South Georgia bound
And the way that she pitched made his head go around,

Chorus (after each verse):
Caterwaulin’, tarpaulin’, harpoonion’ and all.

Well, Paddy had never been whalin’ before.
It made his heart leap when he heard the loud roar,
As the lookout he cried that a whale had been spied.
“Begod,” says poor Pat, “I’ll be ate by and by.”

Now, Paddy run for’ard and reached for the mast.
He caught it a gripper and there he held fast.
The boat give a tip and poor Paddy lost his grip,
And in the whale’s belly the silly fool slipped.

He was in the whale’s belly six months and a day,
Till one morning’ by luck to its throat he made way.
The whale give a hoosh, boys, and then she did blow,
And a mile in the air went old Paddy Maloney.

Well, Paddy got spat out quite safe on the shore,
He swears he’ll not go to sea any more,
And the next time he follows a venturesome notion,
It’ll be when the railway runs over the ocean.


The lyrics were copied from the Leviathan! sleeve notes.