“We’ll pay Paddy Doyle for his boots!”, the title of a popular albeit short sea shanty, it means much more than its literal translation.
IS PADDY DOYLE A BOARDING MASTER..
According to Stan Hugill, Paddy Doyle is the prototype of the boarding masters: Joanna Colcord misidentifies him with Paddy West. (see first part)
Boarding houses are pensions for sailors, present in every large sea port. “They are held by boarding masters, of dubious reputation, that provide ” accommodation and boarding “. Often they welcome the sailors “on credit.” On the advance received by the boarders at the time of enrollment, they refer to food and lodging, and with the rest they provide their clothing and equipment of poor quality “. (Italo Ottonello).
Sailors then usually purchased a sea bag with dungarees, oilskins, sea boots, belt, sheath, knife and a pound of tobacco from the boarding master.
So the first month (or the first months depending on the advance) the sailor works to pay the boarding master, “We’ll pay Paddy Doyle for his boots!”
OR A COBBLER?
According to other interpretations Paddy Doyle was a good Liverpool shoemaker “known to all the “packet rats”* sailing out of that port for the excellency of his sea-boots, and beloved for his readiness to trust any of the boys for the price of a pair when they were outward bound across “the big pond.” (Fred H. Buryeson)
* slang term for sailors
Perfect shanty for short haulers, used expressly to collect the sails on the yard or to tighten them.
The song is short because the work does not last long. Thus wrote A.L. Lloyd “This is one of the few shanties reserved for bunting the fore or mainsail. Men aloft, furling the sail, would bunch the canvas in their hands till it formed a long bundle, the ‘bunt’. To lift the bunt on to the yard, in order to lash it into position, required a strong heave. Bunt shanties differ from others in that they employed fewer voices, and were sung in chorus throughout. Paddy Doyle, the villain of this shanty, was a Liverpool boarding house keeper.” and he continues in another comment “The men stand aloft on foot-ropes and, leaning over the yard, the grab the bunched-up sail and try to heave the ‘sausage’ of canvas on to the yard, preparatory to lashing it in a furled position. The big heave usually comes on the last word of the verse, sometimes being sung as ‘Pay Paddy Doyle his his hup!’ But if the canvas was wet and heavy, and several attempts were going to be needed before the sail was bunted”
The Clancy Brothers&Tommy Makem
Paul Clayton who adds the verse “For the crusty old man on the poop”
To me Way-ay-ay yah!(1)
We’ll pay Paddy Doyle(2) for his boots!
We’ll all drink whiskey(3) and gin!
We’ll all shave under the chin!
We’ll all throw mud at the cook(4)!
The dirty ol’ man’s on the poop! (5)
We’ll bouse (6) her up and be done!
We’ll pay Paddy Doyle for his boots! (7)
1) a non sense line than other versions such as “Yes (yeo), aye, and we’ll haul, aye”. The strongest accent falls on the last syllable of the verse that corresponds to the tear-off maneuver for hoisting a sail
2) In other versions are used more sea terms and inherent to the sailor work: We’ll tauten the bunt, and we’ll be furl, aye; We’ll bunt up the sail with a fling, aye ; We’ll skin the ol’ rabbit an’ haul, aye.
3) or brandy
4) figure of speech to insult or talk badly
5) poop means both stern-aft and shit
6) bouse= nautical term its meanings: 1) To haul in using block and tackle. 2) To secure something by wrapping with small stuff. 3) To haul the anchor horizontal and secure it so that it is clear of the bow wave.In the context the reference is to the sail that is collected in a ‘bunt’, it is raised to fix it to the yard
7)In the context of the shanty the sailor complains of food and discipline and also having to pay Paddy Doyle for his poor equipment!