“The Gull Decoy”


The singer reports, "I take no books, nor I read no papers, I have no money to spend or lose." He reads other people's newspapers, sets his dogs on orphans, and has no company but the gulls he whistles to, hence the name "the Gull Decoy."

Supplemental text

Gull Decoy, The
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Louise Manny and James Reginald Wilson, Songs of Miramichi,
#19, pp. 102-103. From the singing of John B. Stymiest, Tabusintac,

At that time land was of little value,
  Two hundred acres I then secured
And to the westward I went a-courting,
  And got acquanted with Peggy Steward.

When I stand up and begin to whistle,
  You'll see all the gulls around me fly,
And in the sand they seem to nestle,
  From whence they call me the Gull Decoy.

(Stanzas 1, 9 of 9)


Manny and Wilson state that "This song was made up by Larry Gorman before he left Prince Edward Island in 1873.... Tradition says that the ballad was a satire on Larry's own uncle, and that Larry was 'run off the Island' for it." It is also said that later Larry was 'run out of Miramichi' for the mostly unprintable _Donahue's Spree_, so he went to Maine. These are only two of the many fables that cluster round the memory of that imp, Larry, the terror and delight of the logging camps for over fifty years." - RBW

Ives-DullCare: There is a discussion alleging that "Gorman was convinced Riley [the subject of the song names himself Patrick Riley] had cheated him out of some wages, but whatever he may have done, that poet dug up all the dirt he could find on him, and (according to some people I've talked to) what he couldn't find he invented.... [We] have enough here to show the kind of character assassination local satire could involve, and few employed it with more zest or skill than Larry Gorman." - BS

Cross references


  1. Doerflinger, pp. 255-256, "The Gull Decoy" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Ives-DullCare, pp. 85-86,246, "The Gull Decoy" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Manny/Wilson 19, "The Gull Decoy" (1 text plus some fragments, 1 tune)
  4. ST Doe255 (Partial)
  5. Roud #9193
  6. BI, Doe255


Author: Larry Gorman
Earliest date: 1947 (Manny/Wilson)
Found in: Canada(Mar)