Robert Palomo - New Old Sea Songs

Ballad of Shillelagh O'Toole - Audio, video, lyrics

Styled after the classic sea songs of yesteryear, here's a salt-flavored ballad about an old orange-haired pirate who's proud of his big "shillelagh", who abuses women, who wreaks havoc among travelers from many nations, and who sinks perfectly sound ships for fun and profit, aided and abetted by a corrupt and soulless crew. (If you want to go reading other things into that – well, that's your business!) 

The twisted marauder, Ireland's cruelest pirate, wreaks blackthorn havoc upon the high seas until one fateful day when he meets a man whose shillelagh is bigger than his. Herein lies a Karmic life lesson to which certain People in High Places these days would do well to pay heed. 

The lyrics below are only slightly tweaked from an original draft I "penned" on my tablet between 04:30 and 06:00 one eastbound jet-lagged morning after a night of evil dreams in the fateful autumn of 2016. Out of the mass of lemons coursing through my fevered brain I managed to make a bit of lemonade, after which I felt enough better that I was able to snatch a couple more hours' sleep. All hail Saint Patrick! Full speed ahead!

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Shillelagh O'Toole was an old Irish pirate
His ship roved the oceans afar
His raiment was green as the meadows of Éire
His heart black as fresh Stockholm tar

Nor cutlass nor dagger e'er would he carry
No pistol did ever he bear
Just had him a big old blackthorn shillelagh
Lead-filled, with some nails
Driven in here and there
Oh never was any pirate more cruel
Than the old Irish pirate, Shillelagh O'Toole!

Shillelagh O'Toole were a merchantman's curse
Out o' fog banks his vessel would pounce
His crew they would board, wielding pistol and sword
While O'Toole swung that stick's every ounce

Shillelagh O'Toole he'd no mercy at all
He sank brigantines, schooners, and barques
On their captains' heads his blackthorn did fall
And he tossed each dead corpse to the sharks


Shillelagh O'Toole had a shriveled-up soul
As knotty and black as his stick
Whether man or woman, young lad or maiden
He bashed all their heads in right quick
Listener quotes

Shillelagh O'Toole's beard it was red
He'd blood on his hands, and a price on his head
His black cudgel cut many a sailor's life short
They chafed for to hang him in many a port


Shillelagh O'Toole at last met his match
When he boarded the Maid O' Cadiz
There he encountered young Davey O'Dowd
Whose shillelagh was bigger than his!

Shillelagh O'Toole and Davey O'Dowd
Fought like demons, so the tale does tell
But hardy young Davey had the bigger shillelagh
And he knocked old O'Toole straight into Hell!


Davey O'Dowd was hailed as a hero
For the Maid O' Cadiz he did save
His legend lived on in story and song
Long after he'd gone to his grave

So, me boys, learn the lesson o' Shillelagh O'Toole
As ye sail off to seek foreign shores
Someday, somewhere, ye'll meet the man
Whose shillelagh is bigger than yours!


Written, performed and produced by Robert Palomo. Copyright ©2017 - All rights reserved.

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