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Lyr Add: Battle of the Braes

Joe Offer 19 Jul 15 - 12:21 AM
Jim Dixon 19 Jul 15 - 05:46 PM
Joe Offer 19 Jul 15 - 06:44 PM
Tattie Bogle 19 Jul 15 - 07:50 PM
Joe Offer 19 Jul 15 - 09:10 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Battle of the Braes
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Jul 15 - 12:21 AM

I'm surprised we've had no mention of this song.

Source: http://www.rampantscotland.com/songs/blsongs_battle.htm

Traditional Scottish Songs
- The Battle of the Braes

A combination of increasing numbers of people working on a land too poor to support them and landowners who could earn more from sheeprearing than from subsistence farmers, resulted in many leaving the land in the 18th and 19th centuries. Some went abroad to the better themselves and many were forcibly evicted in what became known as "The Clearances".
In 1882, the crofters in Braes of Portree on the Isle of Skye stopped paying rent until their demands for the return of common grazing land were met. Using the force of law, the landlord, Lord Macdonald, tried to evict them. The ensuing "Battle of the Braes" was reported in the press and eventually Parliament passed laws giving crofters more security of tenure.

It is sometimes argued that the Battle of the Braes was the last battle fought on British soil (rather than Culloden in 1745).




THE BATTLE OF THE BRAES

A Sheriff from the factor came
And he came down our way,
From Lord Macdonald he was sent
To clear us out from Skye.

CHORUS
Oh the battle was long but the people were strong
You shoulda been there that day! Chorus
Oh had he come wi' fifty men
He could not pass that day,
For all the women from the Braes
Went out to bar the way.

CHORUS

The Laird was angry; he was wild,
Macdonald must not fail.
He sent the Sheriff back again
To throw us into jail.

CHORUS

And next came fifty policemen,
From Glasgow they were sent,
The Inverness police knew fine
That what we said we meant.

CHORUS

A wet and dismal morning dawned
As from Portree they rode,
The men of Braes were up in time
And met them on the road.

CHORUS

All day the cruel battle raged,
We showed them we could fight.
But five brave men were taken off
To Inverness that night.

CHORUS

The judge he found them guilty men
And fined them two pounds ten,
In half a minute it was paid
And off they went again.

CHORUS

Once more Macdonald's anger broke.
'Invade the Isle of Skye!
Two thousand soldiers, boats and guns
The people must comply!'

CHORUS

'Oh, if we send one million men'
In London they declared,
'We'll never clear the Isle of Skye.
The people are not scared.'

CHORUS

The police up in Inverness
Demanded extra men,
No other town in all the land
Would help them out again.

CHORUS

So back the Sheriff came to Braes
All Scotland watched them go.
'Will you clear off Macdonald's land?'
The people answered 'No!'

CHORUS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRTGbxmh7yQ


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BATTLE OF THE BRAES (John McGrath)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 19 Jul 15 - 05:46 PM

The song appears in a play called "The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil," by John McGrath (London : Eyre Methuen, 1974), page 120.

[It appears that this play is frequently taught in Scottish schools, and it has been published in many editions, along with critical essays and historical information. Unfortunately, most of this material is not viewable online. I suspect McGrath wrote the song for the play, but I have not found an explicit statement to that effect. The copyright page for the play does not mention the song.]


THE BATTLE OF THE BRAES
(To the tune of the Battle of Harlaw)

1. A Sheriff from the factor came
And he came down our way,
By Lord Macdonald he was sent
To clear us out from Skye.

CHORUS: Oh the battle was long but the people were strong.
You should have been there that day.

2. His depute [sic] Martin came along
He could not speak nor stand
They'd filled him up with uisque beath
To throw us off our land. CHORUS


3. Oh he had come with fifty men
He could not pass that day,
For all the women from the Braes
Went out to bar his way. CHORUS

4. The Laird was angered; he was wild,
Macdonald must not fail.
He sent the sheriff back again
To throw us into jail. CHORUS

5. And next came fifty policemen,
Frae Glasgow they were sent,
The Inverness police knew fine
That what we said we meant. CHORUS

6. A wet and dismal morning dawned
As from Portree they rode,
The men of the Braes were up in time
And met them on the road. CHORUS

7. All day the cruel battle raged,
We showed them we could fight.
But five brave men were taken off
To Inverness that night. CHORUS

8. The judge he found them guilty men
And fined them two pounds ten,
In half a minute he was paid
And off they went again. CHORUS

9. Once more Macdonald's anger broke.
'Invade the Isle of Skye!
Two thousand soldiers, boats and guns
The people must comply!' CHORUS

10. 'Oh, if we send one million men'
In London they declared,
'We'll never clear the Isle of Skye.
The people are not feared.' CHORUS

11. The police up in Inverness
Demanded extra men,
No other town in all the land
Would help them out again. CHORUS

12. So back the Sheriff came to Braes
All Scotland watched them go.
'Will you clear off Macdonald's land?'
The people answered 'No!' CHORUS


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Battle of the Braes
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Jul 15 - 06:44 PM

Thanks, Jim. I suspected modern origins. I'd like to know more.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Battle of the Braes
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 19 Jul 15 - 07:50 PM

It is definitely regarded as an iconic and ground-breaking piece of Scottish theatre. Can't offer any further info as to where the song came from. The whole play is avaiable on YouTube if you just search for " The Cheviot.......".
It is being performed at Dundee rep theatre during September, the first new production of it in over 20 yrs.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Battle of the Braes
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Jul 15 - 09:10 PM

Links to BBC video of the play:

A list of songs in the video:
    2:30- 'These are my Mountains'
    7:56- 'High Industry'
    11:07- 'Mo Dhachaidh'
    25:00- 'Soraidh Leis an ait'
    32:48- 'The Battle of the Braes'
    36:05- 'These are our mountains'
    42:42- Mary Macpherson's song
    43:37- Lord Crask and Lady Phosphate duet
    50:17- Now the battle is over
    52:49- We are the men who own your glen
    1:04:11- Texas Jim
    1:09:46- 'Oil Industry'
    1:19:46- Lord of the Oil
    1:23:48- 'Mo Gachaidh'
    1:26:18- Fight for your rights
    1:27:26- But we'll fight once again

It's a very interesting video, well worth your time to watch.


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