Local Songs and Poetry

IF you want to find out more about the local history of Kintyre or post some interesting stories then here is the place! All contributors welcome! You can also check out the Historic Kintyre and Down Memory Lane websites.

Postby bill » Sat Mar 01, 2008 4:15 pm

The Tiller


I am dark and smooth, polished by many hands,
but the one hand that I loved has gone,
so let me swing to the rudder’s motion,
moored in the lee, alone.

I knew the change of weather by his grip
and felt his hunter’s passion like a tide,
and the herring scales he rubbed on me
were jewels that I wore with pride.

I pitied him when wind and rain
pressed him, huddling to steer,
up against my nakedness,
the only language we could share.

There’s not a man in all Kintyre
will point me to the open sea;
I’ll bear no other master’s hand,
but burn instead – unship me.

Angus Martin

Poem supplied courtesy of the Scottish Poetry Library
................................................................................................

Angus Martin writes of the inspiration for the poem
'When this poem was written, more than twenty years ago, herring-fishing was one of the dominant themes of my writing. When I left school in 1967 to become a fisherman, I represented the fifth generation of Martins so employed. I was also the last, but I consider myself fortunate to have experienced the end of herring-fishing and to have known, and recorded, the last of the old men whose lore and learning predated the rampant technological advances which ultimately destroyed the herring-fishing. I don't remember fishing boats with tillers - only steering-wheels - so this poem was a celebration of the Loch Fyne skiffs which disappeared here before my birth, and probably also of my grandfather, Duncan Martin, whom I never knew and whose skiff, the Fame of Dalintober, I never saw and never will see.'
...................................................................................................
About the Poet
Angus Martin was born in Campbeltown, Argyll, in 1952. He has had thirteen books published, including four of poetry. His first collection, The Larch Plantation, received a Scottish Arts Council Spring Award in 1991, and some of his poems have appeared in anthologies, including The Faber Book of Twentieth Century Scottish Poetry.


He is married with three teenaged daughters and has worked as a postman since 1979. He edits the biannual historical journal, The Kintyre Magazine, and his interests include archaeology, local history in its many forms, natural history, hill-walking, and reading.

http://www.scottisharts.org.uk/1/artsin ... y2007.aspx
I know my Summer'll never come
I know I'll cry until my dying day has come
Let the Winter roll along
I've got nothing left but song
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Postby Annie » Sat Mar 01, 2008 4:31 pm

Thanks for that post Bill! It is funny the stuff you don't know, even when you grew up in Campbeltown!
Luv ya billions!!!
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Postby hugh » Sat Mar 01, 2008 6:56 pm

Thanks again Bill! Was lucky enough to know Angus and pleased to hear he's doing well.
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Postby bill » Wed Mar 05, 2008 9:37 pm

Nancy's Whisky


I am a weaver that follows weaving I am a young and sporty blade,
And to buy myself a suit of new clothes, To Stewarton my way I made.

As I came round by Stewarton corner, It was Nancy's whisky I chanced to spy.
Thinks I to myself, I'll go in an' taste it - This seven long years now since I've been dry.

Oh the more I tasted, the more I liked it, An' the more I liked it I tasted more,
An' the more I tasted, the more I liked it, 'Till all my senses were gone ashore!

It was early, early the next morning, I found myself in a stranger's bed.
I tried to rise but I wasn't able - For Nancy's Whisky kept down my head!

I called upon the landlady And asked what reckoning was to pay.
The reckoning is full thirty shillings, Come, pay me quickly and go your way.

I put my hand into my pocket And all I had I laid it down.
And, after I had paid the reckoning, All I had left was a poor half-crown.

Then I came out and turned the corner, And a fair young damsel I did espy.
I went back in and spent two an' tuppence, And all that was left was the "crooked boy."

So I'll go hame an' I'll start my weavin', An' my ain spindles I will make fly,
An' curses be on Nancy's Whisky, For Nancy's Whisky has ruined I.
I know my Summer'll never come
I know I'll cry until my dying day has come
Let the Winter roll along
I've got nothing left but song
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Postby bill » Wed Mar 05, 2008 9:54 pm

The Battle o' the Ploos

The poets aft hae sung in praise
o' warriors in battle,
Wha sned ilk ithers heids an' airms,
Wi' muckle din and brattle.


I sing o' doughty warriors tae,
Wha slayed men like cattle,
Yet honour win on weel fecht fields -
I sing a bluidless battle.


Thermopolae and Waterloo,
Ye score nae mair than even,
Wi' that which is my glorious theme
The battle o' Kilkivan.


This son o' the Fergus cam'
Tae judge oor countrie's plooin':
But ere he gaed, he reeled a hank
That maistly was his ruin.


He threw his gage o' battle doon
An challenged tae a contest,
The wale o' a' oor ploomen roond,
An pick whate'er they thought best.


Sune cam' the day, an' sune the hoor,
When maun their skill be testit,
An' 'twad be seen in gin auld Kintyre,
Should be the best or bestit.


An' no' alane in ploomen briests
The patriot fire was ragin'
Admirin' croods stood lookin' on,
Tae see the battle wagin'.


The battle's ower, the victory's won,
The son o' Fergus won it,
Though shair am I that he himself
Had built sma' hopes upon it.


An' still 'tis said, an' mony anes
Haud it tae be true man,
That he had but the better ploo
An' we the better plooman.

J.M.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I know my Summer'll never come
I know I'll cry until my dying day has come
Let the Winter roll along
I've got nothing left but song
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Postby EMDEE » Wed Mar 05, 2008 11:46 pm

Who was the writer of that one? JM? Any info?
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Postby bill » Wed Mar 19, 2008 7:00 pm

The Beaches of St. Valery

Words & Music by Davey Steel

"Someone once said, poor is the country with no heroes and worse yet, is the country that forgets it's heroes. "

"This is exactly what happened to the 51st Highlanders. In WWII the 51st Highlands were left behind to guard the retreat at Dunkirk. This allowed what was left of the British, French and Belgium armies to escape to England, making it impossible for the Nazi to invade England. Which, in turn, giving the American forces a base from which to liberate Europe. "

Davey Steel 's father & uncle were members of the 51st Highlands. His father made it out on the last transport, but his uncle didn't. He was in a POW camp in Germany until the end of the war.
.................................................................................................................................................


Not a local song/poem as such but certainly there were many local men in the 51st Highland Division,including my own father who was one of the lucky ones to be evacuated.

Lyrics:

1) It was in 1940, the last days of Spring.
We were sent to the Maginot line,
A fortress in France, built to halt the advance,
Of an army from a different time.
But we were soon overrun, out-thought and outgunned.
Pushed further back every day.
But we never believed high command would just leave us.
So we fought every step of the way

2) 'Til the 51st Highlanders found themselves on
The banks of the Somme one more time.
It still bore the scars of that war to end wars.
The old soldier’s scars deep in their minds.
But we didn’t stay long for the Panzers rolled on
As the battle raged west t’wards the sea,
Until on June the 10th when sapped of all strength
We entered St. Valery

Chorus:
And all I recall is the last boat leavin’!
My brother on board waving and calling to me
And the Jocks stranded there wi’ his hands in the air
On the beaches of St. Valery

3) So I huddled all night in a hammered old house
As the shells and the bullets rained down
‘Til just before dawn our hopes were still strong
For we moved to the beach from the town
But the boat that had left on the day we arrived
Was the last one that we’d ever see
An’ with no ammo or food we had done all we could
Se we surrendered at St. Valery

Chorus:

4) When I returned at the end of the war,
From the Stalag where I’d been confined,
I read of the battles the allies had fought,
Stalingrad, Alamein, and the Rhine.
And with pride in their hearts people spoke of Dunkirk
Where defeat had become victory
But nobody mentioned that Highland Division.
They’d never heard of St.Valery


5) No stories no statues for those that were killed.
No honors for those who were gone.
Just a deep sense of shame as though we were to blame,
Though I knew in my heart we were not.
So I’ve moved to a country I’ve come to call home
But my homeland lies far o’er the sea.
I will never return while my memory still burns
On the beaches of St. Valery.

Chorus:
I know my Summer'll never come
I know I'll cry until my dying day has come
Let the Winter roll along
I've got nothing left but song
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Postby general jack o'niell » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:24 pm

i meet him every day, he's my postie
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Postby hugh » Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:08 pm

Apologies if this is the wrong place for this, but I remember this rhyme from Dalintober primary school playground.

One fine day in the middle of the night
two deid men got up to fight
back to back they faced each other
drew their swords and shot each other.

There was another one that started;

Skinny malinky long legs, big banana feet
went to the pictures and couldn't get a seat...

Anyone remember the rest of that? Or was that it? Anybody remember any others?
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Postby ionnsaigh » Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:06 am

When the picture started
Skinny malinky farted
?????/??????
O'Donnchadha
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Postby hugh » Mon Apr 21, 2008 10:57 am

Can't remember it being that, Ionns., though there may have been different versions.

There was another one that went something like;

Oor wee school's a good wee school it's made of bricks and plaster
the only thing that's wrang wae' it's the baldy heided master
He goes to the pub all through the week, and he goes to church on sunday
to pray to God to gie him strength to belt the weans on monday

I remember bits and pieces of loads of other stuff which just seemed pretty surreal; people dancing "in and out of dusty bluebells", big ships
sailing on "eely ally o's" etc. Just wondered if anyone else remembered any?
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Re: Local Songs and Poetry

Postby EMDEE » Wed Apr 30, 2008 11:49 pm

THE THATCHERS OF GLENRAE

The first time I came to the Shire of Argyll,
I went to Dalmore where I wrought a good while,
My job being finished, big Jamie did say,
“Will ye gang an’ theek rashes twa days at Glenrae?”

Now when I crossed over that mountain so high,
I met an ould man wi’ a patch on his eye,
Who took me for a stranger, saying, “What brought you his way?”
“I was sent by big Jamie to thatch at Glenrae”

The farmer spoke slyly, sayin’ I’ve little to do”
Thinks I perhaps you’d rather have Jamie or Hugh,
And either to frighten or scare me away-
“Can ye theek wi’ ould rashes?” says MacNeill o’ Glenrae.

“I can theek wi’ ould rashes, wi’ heather or ling,
Bent, brackens, or dockens, or any wan thing.”
“Oh! You’re just the man’ll get plenty tae dae,
And I’ll get ye a ladder,” says MacNeill o’ Glenrae.

Then he brought out a ladder, twas like a slide car,
And an ould flail to mend it, all covered wi’ tar,
While the ladder was mendin’ we went in for our tay,
Troth it’s not a bad offer to get at Glenrae.

I waited on there till I finished the job,
Then it’s o’er yon wild mountains I had for to jog,
Should I stay in this country till my hair it turns grey,
Oh! I’ll never go back for tae thatch at Glenrae.

My wife’s name’s Ann Connell; she lives at the Mill,
In a nice little cot at the foot of the hill,
Och! She does think it long when I am away,
But I’ll fetch her the money I earned at Glenrae.

As for big Hughie’s wife, she’s built like a hut,
She takes a part from us both to keep her well up,
She’s as fond o’ the gill stoup as she is o’ the tay,
And she leaves us unable the rent for to pay.

So I took a notion it’s hame for to go,
Went to Ballycastle the wages was low,
I went up to Hughie and this I did say,
I’ll go back to Kintyre, but not to Glenrae.

So Heckie and Hughie and Felin and Dan,
Wi’ Ezekiel an’ Jamie an’ wan other man,
All packed up our bundles and set out for the tay,
And the first place of landing was Carskiey Bay.

Then down came Macmillan and gave a loud roar,
“The big Irish thatchers have arrived on our shore,
My master, he wants you without any delay,
For to go and theek rashes, but not to Glenrae.”

Hecky MacIlfetrick (Ballycastle)
Merda taurorum animas conturbit. Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur
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Potato Queen

Postby Mousireid » Thu May 01, 2008 5:00 am

Skinny Malinky long legs wi umbrella feet
If you saw my potato crop it really was a treat
For some were green an some were blue
and some were red and yella too.
If you were mine I'd call you Jean
....and crown you the Potato Queen

Mr A. McMillan
Witchburn Road 1979

He wrote it on a piece of paper when I was only 4 and I NEVER forgot it!
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Re: Local Songs and Poetry

Postby EMDEE » Thu May 08, 2008 8:05 pm

Here is a song as sung by my late grandfather, John McShannon, born 1893, at Low Glenadale, Glenbreckrie, died 1968.
March 2008 was the 40th anniversary of his death.

He was a collector and performer of local songs, and I will post some on here as time allows. This one must have been one of his favourites, as it is the one I heard him perform most often, with great gusto, especially at New Year accompanied by a few drams. He said that the words were written by someone from Dunoon, possibly a Campbeltown exile? Does anybody have a name here? The tune was set to the words by John himself.

Bonnie Argyll

Tune: Song of the Clyde

In a far distant land where I sit and I dream,
Of heather clad mountains and wild rushing streams,
In my mind’s eye I ponder, my thoughts aye beguile,
For the scenes of my childhood in Bonnie Argyll.

Oh the fishing boats moving in Campbeltown bay,
Then heading up north at the closing of day,
Their lights set off Tarbert like fairies in line,
Tis the call of the herring in lovely Loch Fyne.

How I long for the sunset aboon Oban fair,
I picture Loch Awe with its beauty so rare,
And snow capped Ben Cruachan majestic at morn,
Looks over Glen Orchy Loch Etive and Lorn.

To the wide open country where fresh breezes blow,
Through the bleak Moor of Rannoch through lonely Glencoe,
Where the red deer so stately in solitude roam,
They’re scenes from Argyllshire my county, my home.

Far away to the West lie the isles of the sea,
Rhum, Eigg Muck, Iona Col’nsay and Tiree,
Canna, Islay and Jura, Mull, Barra and Coll,
Precious gems of the ocean I Ioo’e best of all.

How I long to return to the land of my birth,
My land of the crags, rugged hills of the Firth,
For the rocky west coastline and glittering Isles,
Mean sweet home to the wand’rer from Bonnie Argyll.

When my time to return comes it can’t be too soon,
I will travel the highroad from Bonnie Dunoon,
Through quiet Glendaruel no more will I roam,
For Argyll is my county, Kintyre’s my home.

Refrain:
Argyll is my county, Kintyre’s my home.
Merda taurorum animas conturbit. Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur
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Re: Local Songs and Poetry

Postby Govangirl » Thu May 08, 2008 9:51 pm

EMDEE wrote:Bonnie Argyll

Tune: Song of the Clyde



Wow! That was simply beautiful. I have been moved by many of the contributions on this thread but this one inspired me to comment. Stunning words.
Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away the dreams that break your heart
Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted
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