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Origins: The Barnyards of Delgaty

06 Mar 99 - 07:54 PM (#61636)
Subject: barnyards of delgaty
From: Allan S.

I've been singing it for years,learned it from Arthur Argo. will someone translate the following lines. "Now my candle is burned out" what is ment by this? and "My Snotters fairly on the wane" THanx evenyone. Allan

07 Mar 99 - 03:34 AM (#61685)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: Alan of Australia

Now my candle is burned out (or Noo my cannle is brunt oot) is probably meant to be taken literally. Snotter: small lamp. So the second line complements the first.

MacColl in "Folk Songs and Ballads of Scotland" says: It was the custom in N.E. Scotland for ploughmen to be hired at seasonal hiring fairs. During the period of service, the ploughmen slept in small buildings (bothies) set apart from the farmhouse proper. When the day's work was done and the evening meal ended, they would often amuse themselves by singing and making up songs. 'The Barnyards' ia a perfect example of the bothy song.

This probably helps in understanding the song.


07 Mar 99 - 03:42 AM (#61686)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: Jonathan (inactive)

Of course you could always choose to see the euphemism for impotence in old age. The version I know is borderline bawdy anyway. jonathan.

07 Mar 99 - 04:09 AM (#61687)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: Murray on Saltspring

I've always taken it to mean something to the effect that my allotted time has been used up (the candle is burnt out that we use for timing, maybe??), and the wick is getting low as well, so I'll be off. The snotter = the drip on the end of the nose, but probably here used metaphorically; the Scottish National Dictionary traces snotter, = "candle-snuff", to 1686. Cheers Murray

07 Mar 99 - 10:30 AM (#61707)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: Allan S,

THanks every one I just found an other verson of that verse in 101 Scottish songs Norman Buchan COLLINS 1962

My caun'le noo it is burnt oot
Its lowe is Fairly on the wane
Sae fare ye weel ye Barnyards
Ye'll never catch me here again

So I guess it could either refer to time left to serve. Strangely there are 2 more verses that I have never heard:

Its lang Jean Scott that maks ma bed
you can see the marks upon my shins
for shes the coorse ill-trickit Jaud
THat fills my bed wi Prickly whins

Meg McPherson maks my brose
an her an me we canna gree
first a mote and syne a knot
an aye the ither jilp o" bree

Im not sure about the marks upon my shins {the result of thrashing about?? Fucking??

Mote, Knot, Jilp o Bree????? THe only place I have heard the word Mote used is Masonic degree work. Any ideas Allan S.

17 Jan 04 - 03:44 PM (#1095016)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: GUEST,Alistair from NE Aberdeenshire

As one who's Uncle worked at The Barnyards of Delgaty, who's Dad was a farmworker in NE Aberdeenshire back in the 30's it is delightful to see such a Worldwide interest in a Cornkister.

The line Jean Scott has nothing to do with sex (one-track mind there). It translates like this.

Its lang Jean Scott that maks ma bed (Tall Jean Scott makes my bed)
You can see the marks upon my shins (As it says)
For she's the coorse ill-trickit Jaud (She's a bad and very naughty and worthless woman)
That fills my bed wi Prickly whins (She fills my bed with sprigs of gorse bushes)

*Gorse is a very prickly shrub and if it was in your bed you'd scratch your legs as you got in*

Brose is made with ground oatmeal and boiling water. Cheap and the staple diet of the farm-worker. If he was lucky there would be a splash of milk to go in it. Think of watery gruel and you get the picture. Then you just have to go out and work a 12-hour day in all weathers on such a diet.

*Here Meg, the kitchen maid, has made the brose but as she doesn't see eye to eye with the singer she only gives him a small serving and includes plenty of the liquid part of the brose rather than a spoonful of the meal.

Meg McPherson maks my brose (Makes my brose)
An her an me we canna gree (We simply don't get along)
First a mote and syne a knot (First a small piece and then a lump)
An aye the ither jilp o' bree (and always another spoonful of the liquid)

17 Jan 04 - 08:28 PM (#1095210)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: smallpiper

gosh you can learn loads from parooosing these heea threads!

17 Jan 04 - 08:32 PM (#1095215)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: GUEST,shona

I cant remember where I heard this from, I think it was either Jock Duncan or Geordie Murison that told me this but the snotter is apparently a scottish word for the moon. (so the moon is on the wane)
Perhaps this was to do with the time that the farm workers left the farm to go to a feein market? I'll see Geordie next weekend and will ask him!

17 Jan 04 - 09:50 PM (#1095253)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: GUEST,Allan S.

What ever happened to Arthur Argo? He was from Aberdeen. I still have a copy of his record "A Wee Threae Of Blue

18 Jan 04 - 03:02 AM (#1095338)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: Joe Offer

I think we have more to explore in the story of this song. I think I'll post the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index.
-Joe Offer-

Barnyards o' Delgaty, The

DESCRIPTION: The young man comes to Turra Market to seek work. A wealthy farmer promises him good conditions at Delgaty. The promises prove false; the horses are poor and lazy, and the working conditions bad. The man boasts of his abilities and cheerfully departs
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1904 (GreigDuncan3)
KEYWORDS: work hardtimes abuse farming
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Greig "Folk-Song in Buchan," pp. 70-71, "The Barnyards o' Delgaty"; Greig #4, p. 1, "The Barnyards o' Delgaty" (2 texts)
GreigDuncan3 347, "The Barnyards o' Delgaty" (13 texts, 14 tunes)
Kennedy 242, "The Barnyards o' Delgaty" (1 text, 1 tune)
DBuchan 65, "The Barnyards o Delgaty" (1 text, 1 tune in appendix)
Ord, pp. 214-215, "The Barnyards o' Delgaty" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 199, "Barnyards of Delgaty" (1 text)

Roud #2136
The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, "The Barnyards of Delgaty" (on IRClancyMakem02)
Jimmy McBeath, "The Barnyards O' Delgaty" (on Voice05)

cf. "The Parting Glass" (floating lyrics)
cf. "The State of Arkansas (The Arkansas Traveler II)" [Laws H1] (theme)
cf. "The Feeing Time (II)" (theme)
cf. "Linton Lowrie" (tune)
cf. "Darahill" (tune)
cf. "Rhynie" (tune, chorus, theme)
Darahill (File: Ord276)
Linton Lowrie (File: HHH640)
Jock o' Rhynie
The Barnyards
Liltin Addie
Buchan Prodigal
NOTES: GreigDuncan3 has a map on p. xxxv, of "places mentioned in songs in volume 3" showing the song number as well as place name; Barnyards of Delgaty (347) is at coordinate (h5,v7-8) on that map [roughly 32 miles NNW of Aberdeen]; Turriff (347,386,682) is at coordinate (h5,v7) on that map [roughly 31 miles NNW of Aberdeen] - BS
Last updated in version 2.4
File: K242

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The Ballad Index Copyright 2015 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

18 Jan 04 - 11:01 AM (#1095513)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: LesB

The residents of the Bothy Folk Club
Southport U.K. have been singing this song to start the evening for 30 odd years. Now after 38 yrs at the same venue we have moved, see thread

thread.cfm?threadid=65418&messages=25 but we are still singing it.
The original group that started the club 38yrs ago were called the Bothy Folk Group and as a typical bothy ballad they adopted it as a theme tune.

18 Jan 04 - 12:18 PM (#1095567)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: Jim McLean

GUEST, Allan S, Arthur Argo died some years ago.

18 Jan 04 - 04:04 PM (#1095711)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)

In the 1950s, when we were living and travelling (in Scotland and those other nearby countries) a snotter (some said 'snodder') was the little nub of a candle left in the holder when it was time to put in a new candle. One saves the snodders for emergencies; I have a drawerful. So the line would mean, Not only is my candle burnt out, but even the snodder's almost gone.

19 Jan 04 - 05:07 AM (#1096084)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: Bothyman

Nice to see Les B's reference to Southport's Bothy Club. Since 1965 and the Club's inception, this song has always started the evening and indeed it HAS to be sung, otherwise things just aren't right! I think that they have tried the other occasional emsemble bothy song such as "The Overgate" but it's "Barnyards" that has stood the test of time. It surely is a fine song.
Mind you, at the new venue which is an hotel, will the song have the same resonance? The 'Blundell Arms' where they were formerly based certainly had the Bothy atmosphere in the winter months - low temperatures, an air of rodent, folks huddled together in outerwear and a blitz spirit of fellowship that can only come from a unity against exploitation - in their case, an indifferent/hostile pub management! Good luck Bothy, in the future.
Snotter? Snorter maybe? = small measure of drink. In other words, glass almost empty - time to call the day, or the job, quits?

19 Jan 04 - 07:07 AM (#1096139)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: Hamish

I seem to remember (from a visit to some folk museum such as the Angus Folk Museum at Glamis, perhaps?) that Delgaty was infamous for making false promises of fair treatment for their workers...? I guess you wouldn't want to go back nest year?

19 Jan 04 - 07:07 PM (#1096630)
From: Matthew Edwards

Strange to note; Rhynie, aka 'Lilten Lowren' or 'Linten Lowrin' doesn't seem to be DT nor in the Forum archives (but alternative spellings might produce different results).

Anyway, as sung by John Strachan, the song goes:

At Rhynie I sheared my first hairst,
Near to the foot o' Bennachie;
My maister was richt ill to fit,
But laith was I to lose my fee.

Lilten lowren lowren addy,
Lilten lowren lowren ee.

Rhynie's work is ill to work,
And Rhynie's wages is but sma'
And Rhynie's laws are double strict
And that does grieve me worst of a'.

Lilten lowren lowren addy,
Lilten lowren lowren ee.

Rhynie it's a cauld clay hole,
It's far frae like my faither's toon;
And Rhynie it's a hungry place;
It doesna suit a lowland loon.

Lilten lowren lowren addy,
Lilten lowren lowren ee.

But sair I've wrocht and sair I've focht,
And I hae won my penny fee;
And I'll gang back the gait I cam,
And a better bairnie I will be.

Lilten lowren lowren addy,
Lilten lowren lowren ee.

John Strachan of Aberdeenshire was recorded by Peter Kennedy and Alan Lomax at Fyvie in 1951, and these recordings are available from Folktrax ref 065 &(066)
Rounder have issued some of John Strachan's songs, including Rhynie in their "Portraits" series:- Portrait: John Strachan.

Rhynie is generally thought to be the basis for The Barnyards of Delgaty, but it is worth noting that Jock Duncan who sings Barnyards thinks that it is a comic exaggeration of farmtoun conditions at Delgaty, and that "There's no way that any place, Barnyards o Delgaty or anywhere else would hae a deen pair of horses. The Barnyards had aye the best horses - a great ferm toun that."

19 Jan 04 - 07:34 PM (#1096652)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: akenaton

Alot of the bothy ballads tell of bad working conditions in the touns.
My personal favourite is "Sleepytoun" by Norman Kennedy, on New Voices from Scotland ,with Gordeanna McCulloch and the Exiles.
Sleeve notes on "Sleepytoun"
"A former worker at the farm of Sleepytoon told the collector,the Rev JamesB Duncan, that he had worked with the author of this song,
William (poet) Clark. Clark,who came from Alford,and was reputedly awfu' leernt, wrote this satire against the hard hearted farmer ,Adam Mitchell,about 1854, while in his early twenties. The melody, one of the most common in North East Scotland,is used for the "Toon o' Kelso ", and is a close relative to the tune normally used for "The Battle o' Harlaw".......Ake

20 Jan 04 - 06:19 PM (#1097510)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty

Rhynie lies outside Huntley toon in Strathbogie. The Rhynie Man was found there in 1978.

20 Jan 04 - 11:41 PM (#1097560)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: GUEST,DonMeixner

Hardly a traditional effort but listen to Old Blind Dogs do this tune. Outstanding.


21 Jan 04 - 03:54 PM (#1098126)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: GUEST,Shona

Nice to see a thread about my part of the country!(im fae Huntly - not Huntley - thats in England!) I'll be seeing Geordie Murison this weekend no doubt so I'm going to ask him what he thinks about the Barnyards.

The barnyards of delgaty is a farm just outside turriff. everytime i go past i just cant stop singing linten addie toorin addie.....

21 Jan 04 - 04:37 PM (#1098174)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: akenaton

Shona...Iv always loved "Bogies Bonnie Belle",I think its one of the saddest love songs.
Is there a River Carnie, and was there an actual farmer called Bogie of Carnie Farm .....Ake

26 Jan 04 - 06:12 PM (#1102026)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: GUEST,Alistair from NE Aberdeenshire

Fit Like Shona?

These fowk hiv nae idea, dee they?

Well now. Rhynie (Rye-knee) is at the foot of a hill called Tap O' Noth. In 1966 I worked on a farm called Blairindinne which was in the shadow of it. Bennachie, on the other hand, is about 10 miles East on the road towards Inverurie. I would assume that the 'Rhynie' in the song is the name of a farm. Farms were called 'touns' by the way.

By an odd quirk of fate my father had been 'fee'd' at Blairindinne back in the '30's. He had attended a fee'n market in Huntly (note spelling) and a Fairmer Mannie came up to him and said "Are you looking for a fee laddie?" So he went to work at Blairindinnie for a fee of 20 pounds for six months.

31 Jan 04 - 09:26 AM (#1105817)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: Bothyman

By way of contrast to 'the Barnyards' Delgatie Castle is well worth a visit, dating from about 1030 and in the Hay family for most of the past 650 years. Open from April-October and with a tearoom!

01 Feb 10 - 10:11 AM (#2827220)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: GUEST,Clive Pownceby

Talking last evening to a friend about this song, it struck me that I've never been exactly sure what the word "Wime" means though I've sung the lyric often enough. 'The auld grey mare lay on her wime,' I've always thought to refer to a horse lying on its side. What else could it lie on? stomach, back? It would surely SIT on its haunches. Suddenly I'm consumed with self-doubt. Tell me, am I right?! Wime - a horse's side/flank - True or Bluff?

01 Feb 10 - 11:01 AM (#2827269)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: Jim Carroll

Wime = belly. Chambers Scots Dictionary
Jim Carroll

01 Feb 10 - 11:30 AM (#2827297)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: GUEST,Clive Pownceby

Phew, thanks Jim - my mind is at rest!

29 Oct 10 - 07:41 AM (#3018382)
Subject: RE: barnyards of delgaty
From: GUEST,Bob Milne

Sadly, over the years the 1st first of 'The Barnyards' seem to have been lost.

As sung by Jimmy McBeath in my great granny's house in Fife St Turriff back in the 1920s it started off:

In New Deer parish I wis born
A child o' youth tae Methlick came
An 'gin ye'll no believe ma word
The Session Clerk he'll say the same.

I drive past the Barnyards every day on the way to work, and my sister lives within sight of the 'fairm toon o' the Barnyards'

The North-East Buchan or 'Doric' dialect is still a living language and many of the old words, although still heard every day have 'moved the times'
e.g. A local school pupil asked for a translation of 'a bonny lass' came up with - 'a tidy quine' Lewis Grassock Gibbon spells it as 'quean' which perhaps helps to explain the origin of that word - but most folk are stumped with a source for 'loon'

11 Jan 20 - 10:35 AM (#4027664)
Subject: RE: Origins: The Barnyards of Delgaty
From: Mrrzy

I don't own any vinyl anymore but I remember there *being* liner notes about this song on the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem album we had this song on while I was growing up.

11 Jan 20 - 04:43 PM (#4027725)
Subject: RE: Origins: The Barnyards of Delgaty
From: michaelr

Mrrzy, I happen to have the record. The liner notes say, "...The Barnyards of Delgaty, a widely known song in Scotland today. It is a bothy song, taking its terms from the name for the wooden shacks that housed the seasonally-hired ploughmen."