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Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o

DigiTrad:
ROTHESAY BAY


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Rothesay Bay (10)
Moira Anderson versions:Bonny Gallowa/Rothesay Bay (26)


Dave Rado 06 Nov 17 - 07:03 PM
Dave Rado 06 Nov 17 - 07:05 PM
Rapparee 06 Nov 17 - 08:32 PM
Gallus Moll 06 Nov 17 - 08:33 PM
Gallus Moll 06 Nov 17 - 08:35 PM
Gallus Moll 06 Nov 17 - 08:36 PM
Stilly River Sage 06 Nov 17 - 08:59 PM
Rapparee 06 Nov 17 - 10:03 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Nov 17 - 02:52 AM
GUEST,henryp 07 Nov 17 - 03:57 AM
Dave Rado 07 Nov 17 - 05:47 PM
Dave Rado 07 Nov 17 - 06:01 PM
Dave Rado 07 Nov 17 - 06:30 PM
GUEST 07 Nov 17 - 06:33 PM
GUEST,henryp 07 Nov 17 - 06:34 PM
GUEST 07 Nov 17 - 06:36 PM
Gallus Moll 07 Nov 17 - 06:39 PM
GUEST 08 May 21 - 07:21 AM
Mrrzy 08 May 21 - 08:53 AM
Megan L 08 May 21 - 12:55 PM
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Subject: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: Dave Rado
Date: 06 Nov 17 - 07:03 PM

1) According to Ewan MacColl: "This saga of a rough weekend in Scotland's most popular holiday resort is based on a country song, The Tinker's Weddin', written by William Watt, a weaver born at West Linton, Peeblesshire, in 1792. The parody followed soon after as a music-hall piece and has been popular ever since."

That implies that the song dates back to around 1800 - can anyone confirm this? I can't find anything on the probable date of origin other than the above quote.


I'm also confused by some of the lyrics:

2) The first line, "One Hogmanay at Glesca Fair".

Glasgow Fair is in July, but Hogmanay is December 31st. The subsequent line "We wandered through the Broomielaw through wind and rain and sleet and snaw" corroborates the idea that it was in winter, but almost no one would have gone to Rothesay for a day out at that time of year. Was this juxtaposition of Hogmanay and Glasgow Fair meant to be a joke? If so it seems like a very obscure joke to me, unlike the other jokes in the song, which are all obvious. Is there any other possible explanation for it?


3) The last line of the first verse, "We got the length o' Rothesay O".

What does "We got the length of" mean in this context? Given the rest of the verse, one would expect it to mean something like "We got the boat to Rothesay-o" but I don't see how "length" could mean "boat". Does the word "length" have an unusual meaning in old Scots?


4) "An' he says 'Clear the room an' mak' a ring an' ahl fecht youse a' in Rothesay O'".

What does "fecht" mean in this context? "Fetch" doesn't seem to make sense here, but I can't think of anything else it could mean.

Dave


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: Dave Rado
Date: 06 Nov 17 - 07:05 PM

PS - Thinking about it more, it can't date back as far as 1800, because steamboats hadn't been invented then.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: Rapparee
Date: 06 Nov 17 - 08:32 PM

Clancy version. Might help.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE DAY WE WENT TO ROTHESAY-O
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 06 Nov 17 - 08:33 PM

Think this song is in Norman Buchan's 101 Scottish Songs or The Scottish Folk Singer and it will probably have some info -- I don't have time to check at the moment!

However, I'll try to answer some of your Qs aff the tap i' ma heid (off the top of my head)

1,2 Hogmanay at the Glesca Fair - is just a joke, like a children's rhyme where things are all upside down. This is a bunch of drunks havin' a weekend on the skite -- sounds like some / all of them were sogers (soldiers) -- "regiment at Barnhill" - that barracks is long gone, last remnants of name is a railway station on north side of Glasgow! So it will be quite old- - unless it was a music hall song.

Wandering through the Broomielaw in rain and sleet etc - - again a joke, it was probably in the summer at Glasgow Fair -- last fortnight of July. (Each area had its own fair fortnight when the factories and shipyards shut up shop - Clydebank is first fortnight of July I think etc)

3 "Got the length of Rothesay-O" just means they travelled the distance to Rothesay.

If you were discussing a journey that is quite a common expression, "we got the length of Inverness before we had to charge up the electric car"(!)

4 The drunk guy is challenging someone/anyone to a fight - think back to the school playground, a circle of watchers and "eggers on" surround the two pugilists. He is asking them to clear the room to make space then form a ring within which the fight (I'll fecht ye) will take place (in the version below it is I'll kill ye!)

The Comet was the first steamboat, invented/constructed by James Watt at Port Glasgow -- I can't remember the date but I think people were still travelling across the Firth of Clyde in pre-steam days on sailboats -- tho probably Rothesay, Dunoon etc had not developed into holiday towns till after the establishment of steam travel!

If William Watt was born in 1792 he would only be 8 in 1800 so unlikely to be writing that type of song till perhaps 1822 or later.


Last Hogmanay at the Glesca Fair,
There was me, masel' and sev'ral mair
And we a' resolved tae hae a terr,
And spend the nicht in Rothesay-O
We wandered thro' the Broomielaw,
Thro' wind and rain and hail and snaw
An' at forty meen-its efter twa '
we got the length o' Rothesay-O!

A-hirrum a doo a doo a day A-hirrum a doo ma daddy-O
A-hirrum a doo a doo a day - The day we went tae Rothesay-O!

A sodger lad ca'd Ru'glen Wull,
Wha's regiment's lying at Barnhill
Gaed aff wi a tanner tae get a gill
In a public hoose in Rothesay-O
His regimentals done the trick -
He was apprehended gey and quick
Baith him and the whisky got the nick,
On the day we went tae Rothesay-O

Says Rookery Tam "A'm gaun tae sing!"
Says I "Ye'll dae nae sich a thing"
Wi' that he yells oot "Mak a ring,
An' I'll kill ye a' in Rothesay-O"
Says I "Sit doon and go tae.... "
Well, the name o the place I will not tell,
Says he " Sit doon and go yersel, -
An' say ye cam frae Rothesay-O"

In search o ludgins we did slide,
To find a place whaur we could bide;
There was eichty-twa o us inside
A single end in Rothesay-O!
We a' lay doon tae tak oor ease,
When one o' the boys began tae sneeze
An' he waukened hauf a million fleas
in a single end in Rothesay-O!

There was several different kinds o' bugs,
Some had feet like dyers clugs
An they sat oan the bed and cocked their lugs
An' cried "Hurrah for Rothesay-O!"
Says I "I think it's time tae slope!"
So we went and jined the Band o' Hope
Bit the polis widnae let us stoap
Anither hoor in Rothesay-O


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 06 Nov 17 - 08:35 PM

why are there a lot of   ?s    in the song text?
they wirnae there when I typed it!!!
And I didnae huv lines oot o kilter -- aweel----


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 06 Nov 17 - 08:36 PM

I think most of the ?s are meant to be apostrophes!!!!


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 06 Nov 17 - 08:59 PM

Gallus,

I went through that first stanza and added the ascii code for apostrophes - are they in the correct places? The source code text for this shows the question marks only, I can't see what they were supposed to be. I can go in and add the rest, or if you send me an EMAIL (not a PM) to Maggie@mudcat.org and paste the proper text in there it should come through regular email and I can fix it in your post.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE DAY WE WENT TO ROTHESAY-O
From: Rapparee
Date: 06 Nov 17 - 10:03 PM

From http://www.rampantscotland.com/songs/blsongs_rothesayo.htm :

The Day We Went to Rothesay, O!

    One Hogmany at Glesca Fair,
    There was me, mysel' and sev'ral mair,
    We a' went off to hae a tear
    An' spend the nicht in Rothesay, O,
    We wandered thro' the Broomielaw,
    Thro' wind an' rain an' sleet an' snaw,
    And at forty minutes after twa,
    We got the length o' Rothesay, O.

    Chorus:
    A dirrum a doo a dum a day,
    A dirrum a doo a daddy O,
    A dirrum a doo a dum a day,
    The day we went to Rothesay, O.

    A sodger lad named Ru'glen Will,
    Wha's regiment's lyin' at Barra Hill,
    Gaed off wi' a tanner to get a gill
    In a public hoose in Rothesay, O.
    Said he 'I think I'd like to sing'
    Said I 'Ye'll no' dae sic a thing'
    He said 'Clear the room and I'll mak' a ring
    And I'll fecht them all in Rothesay, O.

    Chorus

    In search of lodgins we did slide,
    To find a place where we could bide;
    There was eighty-twa o' us inside
    In a single room in Rothesay, O.
    We a' lay doon to tak' our ease,
    When somebody happened for to sneeze,
    And he wakened half a million fleas
    In a single room in Rothesay, O.

    Chorus

    There were several different kinds of bugs,
    Some had feet like dyer's clogs,
    And they sat on the bed and they cockit their lugs,
    And cried 'Hurrah for Rothesay, O !
    'O noo', says I, 'we'll have to 'lope'
    So we went and joined the Band O'Hope,
    But the polis wouldna let us stop
    Another nicht in Rothesay, O.

    Chorus

    Meaning of unusual words:
    mair-more
    tear=a spree
    nicht=night
    Broomielaw=Glasgow docklands
    Ru'glen=Rutherglen
    gaed=went
    tanner=sixpence
    sic=such
    bide=stay
    eighty-twa=eighty-two
    dyer's clogs=wooden shoes
    lugs=ears
    lope=run


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 02:52 AM

This, From 'Folk Songs of Britain to Davie Stewart's version
Jim Carroll

7. ROTHESAY-O, sung by Davy Stewart, (accompanying himself on the accordion), Dundee, Angus; recorded by Alan Lomax.
The text is a nineteenth century lower-class music-hall creation. The tune, with its ostinato-variative structure and double-stamp endings, is much older, and very characteristic of the kind of melody used by travellers, tramps, itinerant labourers, seamen and other 'up?rooted' men over the past five hundred years. The tune became widely known early in the nineteenth century, when it was applied to a poem by the weaver-poet William Watt (1792-1859), called The Tinklers' Waddin'.

[In June when broom in bloom was seen
And bracken waved fu' fresh and green
And warm the sun wi' silver sheen
The hills and glens did gladden

Ae day upon the Border bent
The tinklers pitch'd their gipsy tent
And auld and young wi' ae consent
Resolved to hauda waddin'-o

CHORUS:
Dirrim-dey doo-a-dey
Dirrim-doo a-da-dee-o
Dirrim-dey doov-day
Hurrah for the tinklers waddin'-o

The fifth verse of this ballad test describes the wild scene, which in turn has much of the character of the later music-hall type words of our ROTHSAY-O:

The drink flew round in wild galore
And soon upraised a hideous roar
Blythe Comus ne'er a queerer core
Saw seated round his table O

They drank, they danced, they swore, they sang,
They quarrelled and ?greed the hale day long,
And the wranglin? that rang among the throng
Wad match the tongues o? Babel O.]

Davy Stewart, a travelling man, has sung his way around Scotland and Ireland, busking at cinema and football queues and public houses. His strident voice and unconventional accordion-playing create an arresting and magical effect.

[Other songs recorded by Davie Stewart
Bogie?s Bonny Belle, (Songs of Courtship ? TC 1142)
The Merchant?s Son (Songs of Seduction ? TC 11430
Dowie Dens of Yarrow (The Child Ballads ? TC 1145)]

Reference:
Seeger/MacColl p.98.



1. Last Hogmanay in Glasgow Fair
Me and mesel' and several mair
All gaed off to hae a wee tear
To spend the nicht in Rothesay-O.

2. We started frae the Broomielaw,
Baith hail and sleet and rain and snow.
Forty minutes after twa,
We went the length of Rothesay-O.

Chorus:
A-durrum-a-doo-a-doo-a-day
A-durrum-a-doo-a-daddy-o,
A-durrum-a-doo-a-doo-a-day,
The nicht we went tae Rothesay-O.

3. There was a lad called Ru(ther) glen Will
Whose regiment's lying at Barron Hill
Gaed off wi' a tanner to get a gill
Before we went to Rothesay-O
Says he: I think I'd like to sing
Says I: Ye'll nae dae sic a thing
I'll clear the room and I'll mak' a ring
And I'll fecht them all in Rothesay-O

5. In search of lodgings we did slide
To get a place where we could bide;
There was eighty-twa of us inside
A single room in Rothesay-O.

Chorus:

6. We all lay down to get our ease.
When somebody happened for to sneeze
And they wakened half a million fleas
In a single room in Rothesay-O.

Chorus:

7. There were several different types of bugs.
Some had feet like dyer's clogs.
An' they sat on the bed an cockit their lugs.
An' cried: "Hurrah for Rothesay-O!"

8. "O noo," says I, "We'll have to slope"
So we went and joined the Band o' Hope,
But the police wouldn't let us stop
Another nicht in Rothesay-O.

Chorus:


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 03:57 AM

Paddle-steamers - and trips doon the watter - were a particular feature of life in Glasgow. From Wikipedia;

The Charlotte Dundas was the first practical steamboat, in that it demonstrated the practicality of steam power for ships. The first sailing was on the canal in Glasgow on 4 January 1803, with Lord Dundas and a few of his relatives and friends on board.

Henry Bell's PS Comet of 1812 inaugurated a passenger service along the River Clyde in Scotland. [Comet] started a rapid expansion of steam services on the Firth of Clyde, and within four years a steamer service was in operation on the inland Loch Lomond.

On the Clyde itself, within ten years of Comet's start in 1812 there were nearly fifty steamers, and services had started across the Irish Sea to Belfast and on many British estuaries. By 1900 there were over 300 Clyde steamers.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: Dave Rado
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 05:47 PM

Thanks everyone, especially Gallus Moll and Jim Carroll. I've never heard "the length of" used in this way before and am intrigued to discover that the expression is still in common use.

So it would seem that the song probably dates from around 1830 or so? And that the tune is far older.

With regard to your apostrophes being converted to question marks (in both your posts), are you using Macs? I think the Mac uses a different character set than Windows, so this could possibly explain it? Does the conversion to question marks happen when you preview or only after posting?

Anyway I have a couple more questions about the lyrics of the song.

Ru'glen Will's regiment is at Barnhill in some versions and Barron Hill in others - were these two spellings for the same barracks or two different barracks? Or is Barnhill the correct spelling and Barron Hill a phonetic rendering of how it would have been pronounced?

"In search of lodgins we did slide" - I've never heard "slide" used in this way before. Does it mean "wander"?

Dave


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: Dave Rado
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 06:01 PM

Also, does "tanner" mean "tenner"? ("He went off wi' a tanner to get a gill"),

Dave


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: Dave Rado
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 06:30 PM

By the way, there's a recording of Davy Stewart singing "Mcginty's Meal and Ale" here .


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 06:33 PM

think a tanner was sixpence in old money (LSD - pre decimal) - eg twelve and a tanner was 12 and 6 pence (bloody hell, I've forgotten how to write that - was it 12/6?)
so - the gill would have cost half a shilling- - think that is 5p in current decimal money?!

Not certain about 'slide' - canny find my Scots Dictionary at the moment! My head just makes sense of what I am singing, I see the action in a mental video -- so I dinna fash masel aboot analysing the individual word meanings*, just visualise them sorta slopin' aboot, slidin' alang, pished oot therr skulls seekin' a bed an' tryin' tae look sober!

(*tho it is worth doing with a Hamish Henderson song eg Freedom Come A' Ye - the depth of meaning in some of his phrases is stunning!)

I must look up to check if there were Barnhill Barracks -- I know there were and still are remains of Maryhill Barracks and there's a distant memory of barracks near Glasgow Cross, a bit more to the east near the Lady Well.. there is definitely a Barn Hill station and I think the surrounding area might be called that too?

(NB when I am typing I am using apostrophes and question marks- and I tyhink they will appear correctly? Problem with the song was I copied and pasted it - -then messed about with it a bit! And I can't remember if I previewed or not!


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 06:34 PM

Meaning of unusual words:
    mair-more
    tear=a spree
    nicht=night
    Broomielaw=Glasgow docklands
    Ru'glen=Rutherglen
    gaed=went
    tanner=sixpence
    sic=such
    bide=stay
    eighty-twa=eighty-two
    dyer's clogs=wooden shoes
    lugs=ears
    lope=run

A tanner was a small silver coin worth sixpence - half of one shilling. Two shillings made a florin. There were twenty shillings in a pound - twenty-one in a guinea.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 06:36 PM

aaarrrggghh I have turned into a guest!!!! post at 06.33
Gallus Moll


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 06:39 PM

I'm back--- hooray!


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: GUEST
Date: 08 May 21 - 07:21 AM

My brother and I used to sing this at folk concerts and coffee bars in the mid 1960s. Our father was from Glasgow.

I've just come across programmes for concerts where we sang this.

Reference - Folksongs of Britain & Ireland, edited Peter Kennedy, 1975, page 614
Folk Songs of Britain, Vol X, 1955
Seeger & McColl 1960, No. 89, p. 98
The tune quoted as from the beginning of the 1800s, "The Tinker's Waddin' (wedding)" by William Watt, born 1792.

There are a number of variants and obviously people copy and once a "mistake" is made it keeps being repeated.

The spelling of Rothesay / Rothsay varys. The correct spelling has an "e" in it.
Interestingly "Villa Rothsay Hotel" (no "e") is in England at Cowes.

"...in Glesca' fair."
fair = good looking, blonde, a good place, pleasant, bonny
fair = equal, as in a fair argument, fair competition
fair = an event

We took it as obviously the first meaning. It could have been bonny Glasgow except it wouldn't rhyme.

Commonly it is "at Glasca / Glesca Fair" with a capital "F". There is a version given on this site with "Last Hogmanay in Glasgow Fair" - note "in" and fair should be lower case.

Being "in fair / bonny Glasgow" makes sense and somewhere along the line it has been corrupted.

"several maire" - several more"

"We got the length of Rothsay-O"
"at length we got to"
As in "a length of time or distance". In this case a length of time. A common phrase or so it was to us.

tanner - six pence. Not quite such a common term in this country but we under stood it as such.

"Went off wi' a tanner to get a gill"

"The gill or teacup is a unit of measurement for volume equal to a quarter of a pint. ... In the Republic of Ireland, it still retains this value, though it is now legally specified in metric units as 35.5 ml. In Scotland, there were additional sizes: big gill = 1 1/2 gills (213 ml)"

One version off the web has it as Jill as in a girl's name with a capital "J". This shows how those not knowing a word's meaning change the meaning of a song. As he is going off to a public house, a pub, bar, hotel, it is obvious it is liquor, not a girl he is buying.

In some versions he goes to the public house to get it, some versions he gets it before going to Rothesay.

Barra Hill is usually written though sometimes as Barn Hill. If the latter, it should be Barnhill, one word and it is on the island of Jura, a farm, or a village in Perth and Kinross, it is another error.

"Join the Band o' Hope" Temperance was its key element so after the drinking in Rothesay that would be why it is mentioned.
"Hope UK is a United Kingdom Christian charity based in London, England which educates children and young people about drug and alcohol abuse. It was founded in 1855(?) as the Band of Hope." Other sources say 1840s.
or
"The Band of Hope was first proposed by Rev. ... In the autumn of 1847, with the help of other temperance workers including Anne Jane Carlile, the Band of Hope was founded. Its objective was to teach children the importance and principles of sobriety and teetotalism."


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: Mrrzy
Date: 08 May 21 - 08:53 AM

I had forgotten about this song. Had the Clancies' version.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Day We Went to Rothesay-o
From: Megan L
Date: 08 May 21 - 12:55 PM

There is a Barnhill in Glasgow its in the Springburn district ForestHall hospital used the buildings from the old Barnhill poorhouse was built in 1854. the piggery was across the road from it along the side of the railway but a little further up the road in an old map that shows the poorhouse it shows the football ground which is not in the area ive always known it to be so if there was a transit camp it might have been there and have left little trace since it may have been in tents.

Gallus Moll go stand in the corner a tanner was sixpence which was half a bob therefore if a shilling was five new pence the tanner would be 2½P


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