“We'll Rant & We'll Roar”
Avalon Music artists
From the album Our Songs, 2004
Open in YouTube Music
Performed by Larry Foley (more info), Fred Jorgensen, Alan Doyle (more info), Mike Hanrahan, Tom Nemec, Mark Hiscock, Chris Andrews (more info)
Purchase the album at Fred's Records

Person list


  • Henry William LeMessurier


  • Traditional (English)

Background Info:

The Ryans and the Pittmans, also widely known as We'll Rant and We'll Roar, was composed in the 1870s by Henry W. LeMessurier (1848-1931), who for many years was a Customs official in St. John's. It is based on “Spanish Ladies”, a popular English shanty. Shanties were work songs used in large 19th century sailing vessels, and this one went around the world with British sailors who adopted it to local settings in the Pacific and in Australia. In each case they, like LeMessurier, retained the “We'll Rant and We'll Roar” verse of the original while substituting local place names. LeMessurier, who was MHA for the Burin district around the time he composed his verses, used the names of places in his district.
Dr. Neil V. Rosenberg, Catch Ahold this One...Songs of Newfoundland & Labrador –Volume 1
© Vinland Music. Reproduced with permission


We'll rant and we'll roar like true Newfoundlanders,
We'll rant and we'll roar on deck and below,
Until we strike bottom inside the two sunkers,
When straight through the Channel to Toslow we'll go.

I'm a son of a sea-cook, and a cook in a trader,
I can dance, I can sing, I can reef the main boom;
I can handle a jigger, and cuts a big figure,
Whenever I gets in a boat's standing room.

If the voyage is good then this fall I will do it,
I wants two pound ten for a ring and the priest,
A couple o' dollars for clane shirts and collars,
And a handful o' coppers to make up a feast.

There's plump little Polly, her name is Goldsworthy,
There's John Coady's Kitty, and Mary Tibbo;
There's Clara from Bruley, and young Martha Foley,
But the nicest of all is my girl in Toslow.

Farewell and adieu to ye fair ones of Valen,
Farewell and adieu to ye girls in the cove;
I'm bound for the Westward, to the wall with the hole in,
I'll take her from Toslow the wide world to rove.

Farewell and adieu to ye girls of St Kyran's,
Of Paradise and Presque, Big and Little Bona,
I'm bound unto Toslow to marry sweet Biddy,
And if I don't do so, I'm afraid of her da.

I've bought me a house from Katherine Davis,
A twenty-pound bed from Jimmy McGrath;
I'll get me a settle, a pot and a kettle,
Then I'll be ready for Biddy - Hurrah!

I brought in the Ino this spring from the city,
Some rings and gold brooches for the girls in the bay;
I brought me a case-pipe - they call it a Meerschaum,
It melted like butter upon a hot day.

I went to a dance one night in Fox Harbour,
There were plenty of girls, so nice as you wish;
There was one pretty maiden a-chawing of frankgum,
Just like a young kitten a-gnawing fresh fish.

Then here is a health to the girls of Fox Harbour,
Of Oderin and Presque, Crabbe's Hole and Bruley;
Now let ye be jolly, don't be melancholy,
I can't marry all, or in chokey I'd be.
from Old-Time Songs and Poetry of Newfoundland, 2nd ed.

See lyrics on a page by themselves