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Origin: Mingulay Boat Song

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MINGULAY BOAT SONG


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Liam's Brother 10 Feb 04 - 11:20 AM
GUEST,Dave (the ancient mariner) 10 Feb 04 - 11:24 AM
GUEST,MMario 10 Feb 04 - 11:35 AM
Cuilionn 10 Feb 04 - 12:43 PM
Malcolm Douglas 10 Feb 04 - 01:19 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 10 Feb 04 - 04:06 PM
Felipa 10 Feb 04 - 06:27 PM
Liam's Brother 11 Feb 04 - 05:10 PM
Jim McLean 11 Feb 04 - 06:20 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Feb 04 - 08:19 PM
GUEST,Martin 02 Jun 11 - 11:39 PM
Seayaker 03 Jun 11 - 11:37 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 18 Apr 14 - 12:12 PM
Brian May 18 Apr 14 - 01:45 PM
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Subject: Origin: Mingulay Boat Song
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 10 Feb 04 - 11:20 AM

I was on Barra in the Outer Hebridies of Scotland in the early 1970s. Stayed 5 days, went to a ceili, rented a car for a day. The highest point on the island affords a really good view. I was able to look south down the chain to Mingulay which was - and still is, I suppose - uninhabited. The islanders had been moved off about 20 years earlier as I recall.   

I've always been curious about the origin of "The Mingulay Boat Song." Virtually everyone has heard it but how has it spread from Mingulay (presumably) to everywhere else. If it's really from Mingulay, it must've been composed in Scots Gaelic, the everyday language of the Hebridies?

All the best,
Dan


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Subject: RE: Origin: Mingulay Boat Song
From: GUEST,Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 10 Feb 04 - 11:24 AM

Here ya go mate....http://cityofoaks.home.netcom.com/tunes/MingulayBoatSong.html


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Subject: RE: Origin: Mingulay Boat Song
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 10 Feb 04 - 11:35 AM

see also previous discussion

There are post regarding both the lyrics and the air.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Mingulay Boat Song
From: Cuilionn
Date: 10 Feb 04 - 12:43 PM

There are at least twa Scots Gaelic sangs still sung tae this tune, tho Ah've nae kythin o how auld THEY micht be. The fairst sang Ah haird wis (forgie ony possible spellin trauchles here) "Mo Chailin Alainn" (ma bonnie lass, my pretty maid, etc.). The sang seems tae exist in baith Irish Gaelic & Scots Gaelic vairsons, as the context in whilk Ah haird it wis a concert o Gaelic singers frae baith traditions, an they chose it as a "grand finale" piece familiar tae both sets o singers. Ah'm tryin tae reca the ither sang Ah've haird... ma Gaelic's nae guid eno tae reca the hale thing, but Ah believe it wis ane o those sangs praisin a particular place, an the plaice wisNAE Mingulay. Ah've haird it at a few ceilidhs on baith sides o the Atlantic, an Ah think there micht be a recordin o some woman singin it somewhaur... any help frae ither, better speakers/singers o Scots Gaelic?

Ah've been curious aboot this tune/sang pedigree, masel. Ah ken aboot the pipe-tune on whilk "Sir Hugh" basit his English lyrics, but Ah've aften wished for printit lyrics tae ony o the Scots Gaelic sangs that exist tae the same tune.

--Cuilionn


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Subject: RE: Origin: Mingulay Boat Song
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 10 Feb 04 - 01:19 PM

See the thread started as a sequel to the one in MMario's link above. Unfortunately, people immediately started to repeat the same misapprehensions already gone through in the original discussion, but some of these were cleared up eventually, and set of a Gaelic verses was posted. Not the "Gaelic original" of Roberton's lyric, of course, because there wasn't one, but another song sung to a variant of the same tune:

Mingulay Boat Song again


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Subject: RE: Origin: Mingulay Boat Song
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 10 Feb 04 - 04:06 PM

And Malcolm "forgets" to state that he supplied much of the information in that excellent thread he linked to. Thanks again Malcolm. Always enjoy seeing your name in a thread I get interested in, as I KNOW I'm going to learn something.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Mingulay Boat Song
From: Felipa
Date: 10 Feb 04 - 06:27 PM

There is more discussion on earlier threads. Here is some info. from 1999 contribution:

"The following information ... is from Ben Buxton. "Mingulay: an Island and Its People". Birlinn, Edinburgh, 1995

p. 47-48

"'Mingulay's most famous song - outside Barra and Vatersay that is - is "The Mingulay Boat Song'. But neither the words nor the melody originate anywhere near Mingulay; it is a romantic invention of the 20th century. It was devised in 1938 by Glasgow-born Sir Hugh Roberton, who was very fond of the melody of 'Creag Ghuanach', a song from Lochaber, which celebrates a crag near Loch Treig. He needed a sea shanty, and so he adapted the music, chose the romantic name Mingulay, and composed the words. It was to be sung in F, slowly and rhythmically. [Roberton Publications, personal information; Derek Cooper. "The Road to Mingulay: a View of he Western Isles", London, 1985]?

"'It is ironic that this song should be the only well-known song associated with the island, and, for many, the only reason they have heard the name Mingulay at all.'

"In his appendix, Buxton publishes two real Mingulay songs, in Gaelic with Englsh translations: 'Oran do Dh'Eilean Mhiulaidh' /'Song to the Isle of Mingulay' and 'Turas Nèll a Mhiùghlaigh'/ 'Neil's Trip to Mingulay'"

Nice to see you on Mudcat again, Cuilionn! While you're right that the tune (not the words) of the Mingulay Boat Song carried Gaelic words, the song you mention was composed by an Irishman - who is still alive - who set it to the air he knew from hearing the Mingualay Boat Song. The modern Irish Gaelic song was subsequently translated to Scottish Gaelic. See An Cailin Alainn


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Subject: RE: Origin: Mingulay Boat Song
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 11 Feb 04 - 05:10 PM

Thanks all.

All the best,
Dan


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Subject: RE: Origin: Mingulay Boat Song
From: Jim McLean
Date: 11 Feb 04 - 06:20 PM

Please, please Cuilionn, don't use that dreadful, mim mou'ed adjective 'scots' instead of the real, strong 'scotch' or 'scottish'.
Jim


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Subject: RE: Origin: Mingulay Boat Song
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Feb 04 - 08:19 PM

Scots- as in Scot-free? The Scotch always disliked being scotted. No different from anyone else on that respect.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Mingulay Boat Song
From: GUEST,Martin
Date: 02 Jun 11 - 11:39 PM

As a boy in Barra we used to sing the song in Gaelic but I have never been able to find the lyrics. There were wild goats on Mingulay as I recall - we used to go to mind my father's whisky still, for the making of homemade whisky was illegal.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Mingulay Boat Song
From: Seayaker
Date: 03 Jun 11 - 11:37 AM

I was on Mingulay in 2006 for three days. We were seakayaking through the Bishop Isles and also camped on Sandray and Pabbay.

I don't remember seeing goats which is unusual as most of the Hebridean Islands have a goat population. They could have been removed post 1955 by the Barra Head Isles Sheepstock Co. who bought Mingulay and Pabbay. The rabbits are descended from domestic ones who were kept for food as they have different colour patches

The cliffs on the west side are some of the most spectacular in britain but it's not a place to get caught out by the weather. One person I know was in a group who got stormbound for 7 days so you take plenty of spare food.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Mingulay Boat Song
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 18 Apr 14 - 12:12 PM

In Feb '04 Cuilionn mentioned one of the songs which is known to be actually from the isle of Mingulay. The song was "Oran do dh'Eilean Mhiulaidh" (Song to the Isle ofMingulay) written by Neil MacPhee the Vatsersay raider (see above),after the abandonment of the island. Have found the lyrics for this song, sung by Maggie MacInnes, a Scottish Gaelic songstress. The words are found on a recording Leaving Mingulay, which includes many songs attributed to Mingulay or would have been known while it was still settled. The link to that set of words is Oran do Dh'eilean Mhiughalaigh

Oran do Dh'eilean Mhiughalaigh
Niall MacPhì
 

1
Bi m'aigne fhèin a gabhail reug
Air siubhal sgèith mo smaointinnean,
Ag aiseag spèis o ghrunnd mo chlèibh
Gu sgeireig èidich aonaraich
Far an tug mo mhàthair ghràidh
A dh' àireamh chlann nan daoine mi,
Is far an iarrainn fois a bhàis
Na'm biodh e'n dàn dhomh fhaotainn ann.
 
2
Is tric a dh'èisd mi gàir' nan tonn
Ri cladach lom nan caolasan,
Is m'aigne fhèin cho rèidh ri phong
'S mo chridhe trom a'smaointinn air
A' liuthad car a chaidh de'n t-sruth
O'n chruthaicheadh an saoghal seo
Air ais 's air aghaidh gus an diugh,
Is fuaim a ghuth gun chaochladh air.
 
3.
Is tric air feasgar Chèitein chiùin
'S gun leam ach speil de dh' fhaoileagan,
A shuidh' mi greis gun mòran suim
Air binneag druim na h-aonaige;
An àm do'n ghrèin bhith dol 'sa chuan,
Bu mhaiseach snuadh a h-aodainn leam,
'S ged rinn i mlle mlle cuairt,
Cha tàinig tuar na h-aois' oirre.
 
4.
De'n teaghlach ghreadhnach shuidh' gach oidhch'
Mu'n chagailt cruinn bha naoinear ann
Chanail an diugh air lom an tuinn
Ach mis' a caoidh 'nam aonaran
Tha'n trathach gorm mu'n teinntein fuar
Gun beo mun cuairt ach caoraich air
Is luchd mo ghraidh nan seomar suain
Is glasan buan an aoig orra
 
5
Tha chreagan corrach sgorrach ciar
Is trusgan liath na h-aois orra
Ag èirigh suas mar bhalla dion
An aghaidh sian nam faoillichean
Ged thug gailleann gart is greann
Air bharr nam meall 's na' maolaidhean
Tha cluaintean fasgach 'n achlais bheann
Is dreach an t- samhraidh daonnan orr'
 

Song to the Isle of Mingulay
Neil MacPhee
 

1
My mind takes a trip,
Travelling on the wings of my thoughts,
Conveying esteem from the bottom of my heart
To a stormy lonely rock
Where my beloved mother
Brought me into the circle of humankind
And where I would desire the tranquillity of death,
If it were my fate to receive it there.
 
2
Often have I listened to the roar of the waves
On the bare shores of the sounds
And my thoughts so attuned to its note,
And my heart heavy thinking of it -
How many turns the tidal stream has made
Since the world was created,
backwards and forwards to this day,
And the sound of its voice never changing.
 
3
Often on a calm evening in May,
Alone but for a flock of seagulls,
Have I sat without any thoughts
On the peak of the moorland ridge;
At the time of the sun dipping into the ocean
Beautiful was the appearance of her face to me,
And despite her thousands of rounds,
She does not appear aged.
 
4
Of the joyful family who sat each night
Round the hearth - there were nine of them -
There are not today alive
But I alone lamenting;
The green grass is about their fireplaces cold,
With sheep alone alive around them,
And my beloved folk in their chamber of slumber,
The eternal fetters of death on them.
 
5
Its rocks unstable and with clefts dark grey,
The grey garment of age on them,
Rise up like a protecting wall
Against the elements of winter.
Though storm has wrought bareness and surly scowl
On the peaks and brows,
There are sheltered meadows within the arms of the bens
With the bloom of summer even on them.
 


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Subject: RE: Origin: Mingulay Boat Song
From: Brian May
Date: 18 Apr 14 - 01:45 PM

Ha ha makes you laugh doesn't it.

The lyrics have nothing to do with the folks from Mingulay . . .
. . . and neither has the melody!

The version I like the best though is the Newfie group - Masterless Men, theirs is outstanding.

Have fun . . .


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