Parrots on the Shoulder: Outdated Seafaring Cliché or Proud Symbol of Our Piratey Tradition?


The parrot on the shoulder has long been a central item in Pirate symbolism. I can remember a time when no self-respecting attendee would arrive at a branch meeting upstairs from a tavern on the northside to discuss the great Pirate/Buccaneer split, without a brightly coloured talking bird perched beside his head. Well do I remember one heartie, a lifelong and unsung hero of the Piratist cause, who would rarely be seen without at least two if not three birds on each shoulder. He trained them to sing the Pirate anthem “Yo ho ho and a bottle o’ Rum” and they often lead us, all five of us, in a lusty rendition at the end of a long and fruitful discussion. Ah yes, they were great days, and even though we never actually got on our boats and went a-pirating (many of us lived with our mums, and didn’t own pirate ships), we made a difference in a very real sense. True, we never made Ireland even slightly more piratey, but we did manage to refine our positions on many questions, and began some of the very valuable theoretical work which we continue here at the Irish Pirate Review.

All through this long and long-winded struggle, we have had parrots perched atop our shoulders. Some simply said “Pieces of Eight!”, others recited entire annotated chapters of Karl “Greybeard” Marx’s “Das Piratikal”. These tropical birds represent a link to the Piratey tradition of which we are only the latest iteration. That some of the so-called piratey factions of today seek to sweep these colourful fauna under the carpet of history is nothing short of heresy. This “New Piracy” (really just landlubber-ism made over in pseudo-pirate clothing) seeks to abandon all that was noble in the Buccaneer tradition. It falls to us at the Irish Pirate Review, seadogs too stubborn to quit, to fight on for the cause. They may chant “Euros!” now, instead of “Pieces of Eight!”, but our feathered friends are as vital to our cause as ever. So wear your parrots with pride, me hearties! Arr.


1 Response to “Parrots on the Shoulder: Outdated Seafaring Cliché or Proud Symbol of Our Piratey Tradition?”

  1. 1 John 15 April, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Brilliant stuff. Top class.

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Photo Credit

Arrh! The Photo above be available for us to be using though Creative Commons by missy_1074 from Flickr. We thankee!
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