Friday, August 17, 2018

The Skye Boat Song

We have just returned over the sea from Skye.

Me, Michael Malone and Douglas Skelton were up to capers.

More about that next week.

The boys were very stressed so I was singing the Skye Boat song to calm their nerves.

They put me out the car.

Anyway ----

You might not know that it’s called the Skye Boat Song, but if you hear a few bars you think…ahh I know that!  Maybe not if I am singing it.

Among others, it’s been used for Outlander and loads of other 'tartan and claymore' TV programmes.

It’s one  of those songs, like Edelweiss,  that has been taken  to the heart of an nation as an original, ancient folk song; sung from the lips of grannies to the ears of babes for generation after generation.

And it's not.

The Skye Boat Song tells the story of the escape of Prince Charles Edward Stuart  ( Bonnie Prince Charlie)  from Uist to the Isle Of Skye  after the defeat of his Jacobite Army at Culloden April 16th 1746.

The story goes that he was disguised as a female servant ( he was a wee bloke ) and, with a lassie called Flora MacDonald ( of the clan who lived on the Isle Of Skye ), he got into a boat and  managed to get from Uist to Skye and then away.

It was composed  over 150 years after the event and the event never happened anyway. Charlie was never in Skye at that time although he had been there before island hoping to avoid the government troops.

Despite an  ingrained belief that the song is old, it doesn’t appear  in any songbooks before it was written. Obviously.

Versions exist by just about everybody who can sing.
Paul Robeson, Tom Jones Peter Nelson and The Castaways from New Zealand, West Australian artist Glen Ingram, Esther & Abi Ofarim ( of Cinderella Rockefeller fame ), Calum Kennedy, Rod Stewart,
Roger Whittaker, Des O’Connor, Julian Lloyd Webber, The Shadows, Tori Amos,, Barbara Dickson,
James Galway, The Chieftains, The Corries, The Real McKenzies,

Here are the lyrics

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar,
Thunderclaps rend the air;
Baffled, our foes stand by the shore,
Follow they will not dare.
Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep,
Ocean's a royal bed.
Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep
Watch by your weary head.
Many’s the lad, fought in that day
Well the claymore did wield;
When the night came, silently lay
Dead on Cullodens field.

Burned are their homes, exile and death
Scatter the loyal men;
Yet ere the sword cool in the sheath
Charlie will come again.

Here are some pics.
More about Skye next week.

Douglas took this. He knows what the buttons on his camera can do.

Skye in the middle of the day, in August.

                                              Eilean Donan Castle, on the mainland, on the drive up.
Some jaggy mountains, by me!

Mr Malone, acting manly.

Scary mist rolling in

Moody, dark.... nobody there..

Picture by Mr Michael Malone

I mean, it's as if we don't take it seriously!

Caro Ramsay  16 08 2018


  1. The photos are STUNNING. But, on to what we really want to know. In these days of hidden microphones catching secret moments, isn't there the chance that Messers Malone and Skelton just happen to have a recording of a certain crooning Lass of the Lake?

    1. Well Michael's ears started bleeding and then Doug was chewing his seat belt to get out the car. So I guess the answer is no.

  2. Well, Caro, this is encouraging! Fake news had been invented and even inspired songs for grannies to sing long before the current spate. And we're all still here.

    The photos are gorgeous. I'd even risk summertime seasonal affective disorder to be in such a beautiful place!

  3. And fake news to further a political cause - who'd have thought that!
    Skye has midges that fly in squadrons, 24 7. I'll leave that there.

  4. Gorgeous. Love the scenes of the water.