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Origins: The Cockle Gatherer

Dave Rado 21 Feb 12 - 11:27 AM
Dave Rado 21 Feb 12 - 11:31 AM
GUEST 01 Jul 12 - 10:03 AM
GUEST,Phil Vivian 13 Apr 13 - 09:33 AM
Jim Dixon 13 Apr 13 - 10:07 PM
Dave Rado 20 Aug 17 - 06:59 PM
Gallus Moll 20 Aug 17 - 08:43 PM
GUEST 21 Aug 17 - 09:17 AM
Joe Offer 21 Aug 17 - 12:38 PM
GUEST 21 Aug 17 - 12:40 PM
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Subject: Origins: The Cockle Gatherer
From: Dave Rado
Date: 21 Feb 12 - 11:27 AM

I have always loved The Cockle Gatherer - it's one of my very favourite folk songs and I don't understand why more Scottish folk singers haven't covered it - it's so evocative, it really makes you feel you're in the Hebrides! As I child I heard Kenneth McKellar sing it, and while I don't like his operatic style, he did sing it with real feeling and atmosphere, and it's thanks to him that I fell in love with the song. It was collected in the Isle of Eigg at the turn of the 20th century by Marjorie Kennedy Fraser and part-translated from the Gaelic by Kenneth McLeod. There's a nice recording of it by Lisa Milne, using the Kenneth McLeod translation, here (which you can listen to most of free by clicking the musical notation sign). There's also one by Marie McLaughlin on the same page but I think she sings it a bit too slow.

The lyrics, which are not in the DT but which I think should be, are:

Chorus:
I dal a du vil, i dal a du horo
Blythe I gather cockles here
I dal a du vil, i dal a du horo
Blythe I gather cockles here


Joy scream of sea gulls
Down on the skerry there
Joy scream of sea gulls
Blythe I gather cockles here

Chorus

Laughter of sea waves
Down on the skerry there
Laughter of sea waves
Blythe I gather cockles here

Chorus, ending with
Still I gather cockles here.


Anyway, I was curious about the origins of this song - was it actually sung by cockle gatherers while they worked? It turns out that it was. I recently received the following email from the Eigg History Society which I thought I'd share with anyone who was interested:

----- Original Message -----
From:
To: "Dave Rado"
Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 2:01 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: The Cockle Gatherer

Hi Dave,

Your enquiry has been passed to me by Maggie, as the contact person for the History Society.

Following its publication by Marjorie Kneedy Fraser, the song was very popular at one time, it has now been re-recorded and sung to the original tune ( MKF tended to change and adapt the tunes to make them more "palatable" to her audience) by Gaelic singers and the tune can be found in the Feisean nan Gaidheal song book 1.

It was recorded from an Eigg singer in any case- I can;t remember the name but it is indicated in MJK 's book) and it may well have composed locally, although it may have come from Barra where cockle gathering was more common. It is typical of the kind of Gaelic work songs where repetitive activity is alleviated by rhythmical singing. It certainly would have been sung on the shore but also performed at ceilidhs as it has a rousing chorus. Our children learnt it and sung it on our community buy-out celebration day.

There are a few Eigg families left that can trace their generations back a really long way, so please get in touch if you would like further information.You can also look at our Eigg website ( google Eigg History society) if you wish.

Best regards,
Camille Dressler
Comunn Eachdraidh Eige
Eigg History Society


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Cockle Gatherer
From: Dave Rado
Date: 21 Feb 12 - 11:31 AM

Whoops - the final line of the two verses should be "While I gather cockles here". "Blythe I gather cockles here" is only used in the chorus.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Cockle Gatherer
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Jul 12 - 10:03 AM

We had to sing that at choir


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Cockle Gatherer
From: GUEST,Phil Vivian
Date: 13 Apr 13 - 09:33 AM

Fascinating! I remember singing this in music lessons at primary school (in Bournemouth!) 50 years ago. I remembered "While I gather ..." but had forgotten "Blythe I gather ...". Fond memories and lovely to rediscover the song.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE COCKLE GATHERER
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 13 Apr 13 - 10:07 PM

Words and music can be found in Songs of the Hebrides, Volume 3, by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and Kenneth Macleod (London: Boosey & Co., 1921), page 14:


THE COCKLE GATHERER / 'S TRUSAIDH MI NA COILLEAGAN.

Air from Marion Macleod, Eigg.
Words from Kenneth Macleod.
Arr. For Voice and Piano by M. Kennedy Fraser.

Eetl a doo veel
Eetl a doo ho ro
Eetl a doo veel
Blythe I gather cockles here,
Eetl a doo veel
Eetl a doo ho ro
Eetl a doo veel
Blythe I gather cockles here.

Joy scream o' seagulls
Down on the skerry there,
Joy scream o' seagulls
While I gather cockles here,
Joy scream o' seagulls
On the skerry there
Joy scream o' seagulls
While I gather cockles here.

Eetl a doo veel
Edtl a doo ho ro
Eetl a doo veel
While I gather cockles here.
Eetl a doo veel
Eetl a doo ho ro
Eetl a doo veel
While I gather cockles here.

Laughter of sea-waves
Down on the skerry there
Laughter of sea-waves
While I gather cockles here,
Laughter of sea-waves
Down on the skerry there,
Laughter of sea-waves
While I gather cockles here.

Eetl a doo veel
Eetl a doo ho ro
Eetl a doo veel
Blythe I gather cockles here
Eetl a doo veel
Eetl a doo ho ro
Eetl a doo veel
Still I gather cockles here.

[Beware of typos!]

I dal a du vil
I dal a du ho ro
I dal a du vil
'S trusaidh mi na coilleagan
I dal a du vil
I dal a du ho ro
I dal a du vil
'S trusaidh mi na coilieagan

Roic aig anfhaoileag,
shios anns na sgeirein ud
Roic aig anfhaoileag
'S trusaidh mi na coilleagan
Roic aig anfhaoileag
anns na sgeirean ud
Roic ai an fhaoileag
'S trusaidh mi na coilleagan

I dal a du vil
I dal a du ho ro
I dal a du vil
'S trusaidh mi na coilleagan
I dal a du vil
I dal a du ho ro
I dal a du vil
'S trusaidh mi na coilleagan

Gair aig an fhairge
Shios anns na sgeirean ut
Gair aig an fhairge
'S truaidh mi coilleagan
Gair aig an fhairge
shios anns na sgeirean ud
Gair aig an fhairge
'S trusaidh mi na coilleagan

I dal a du vil
I dal a du ho ro
I dal a du vil
'S trusaidh mi na coileagan
I dal a du vil
I dal a du ho ro
I dal a du vil
'S trusaidh mi na coilleagan.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Cockle Gatherer
From: Dave Rado
Date: 20 Aug 17 - 06:59 PM

I'm afraid I've only just noticed Jim's post. Thanks for that.

It's odd that Marjorie Kennedy Fraser would have bothered to "translate":
I dal a du vil
I dal a du ho ro
as:
Eetl a doo veel
Eetl a doo ho ro
Why translate real Gaelic (albeit just mouth music words) into faux Gaelic ones? Maybe she never saw the words written down and she wrote down what she thought she heard? Anyway, I always sing "I dal a du vil."

Many thanks for supplying the Gaelic song title - with the aid of which I've now found some lovely recordings of the original Gaelic song: one by an anonymous community group, here; one by Julie Feeney singing with an Irish duo Size2Shoes, here; and one by Julie Feeney singing solo, here.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Cockle Gatherer
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 20 Aug 17 - 08:43 PM

and of course the cockle shell beach on Barra is where the twin otter plane lands and takes off ---worth having a look on youtube to see this unique service in action! Timetable has to work round tides - - and beach has to be cleared of cattle shortly prior to the arrival of plane!
One for the bucket list----


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Cockle Gatherer
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 09:17 AM

I just listened to a lovely version of this YouTube. The singer was a woman called Sheila Joynes..it was really well done. Does anyone know more about this singer ?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3UXkY_ZLWM


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Cockle Gatherer
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 12:38 PM

Hi -
Here's the Website for Sheila Joynes: http://www.sheilajoynes.com/

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Cockle Gatherer
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 12:40 PM

Thank you Joe, much appreciated.


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