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Bonnie Lass o Fyvie
by Jock Duncan

Click here to listen to the song

This song telling of the dragoon captain who died for the love of the bonnie lass o Fyvie has been widely popular. There are over 20 versions in the Greig-Duncan Collection (GD 84) with considerable variation in text and tune. The song was collected by Cecil Sharp in the Appalachians under the title Pretty Peggy O (EFSSA 95) and Ford's 'Vagabond Songs' has a song Bonnie Barbara O localised in Derby. But the song seems certainly to belong to Fyvie.

There may or may not have been a barracks in or near Fyvie but it is clear from the song and local tradition that Fyvie was a staging post on the military route from Aberdeen to Fort George on the Moray Firth.

Jock: After Fort George wis built they cam through Fyvie and they took the ford at Gicht the roads wisna good then. In the song: 'Early neist mornin they aa mairched awa, And oh but oor captain wis sorry; An the drums they did beat ower the bonnie braes o Gicht, An the pipes played the Bonny Lewes o Fyvie O.' The Lewes is the name given to the land around the village the low lying ground.

Another thing they said (in Fyvie): during the Irish rebellions that the Irish Dragoons cam over here wi prisoners heading for Fort George. They aye mentioned the name O'Connors -- Irish prisoners.

That wis a very favourite song wi Willie Allen, and the wife tee, at Tifty Croft. They baith sang that een thegither.

Green grow the birks upon bonnie Ythanside,
And low lie the bonnie lewes o Fyvie O;
In Fyvie there's bonnie, in Fyvie there's braw,
In Fyvie there's bonnie lassies mony O.

There cam a troop o the Irish Dragoons,
And they were stationed in Fyvie O;
And their captain fell in love wi a very bonnie lass,
And her name was ca'd Pretty Peggy O.

Chorus:
For there's mony a bonnie lass in the howe o Auchterless,
There's mony a bonnie lass in the Gearie O,
There's mony a bonnie Jean in the toun o Aiberdeen,
But the flooer o them aa is in Fyvie O.

"Come doun the stair pretty Peggy my dear,
Come doun the stair pretty Peggy O;
Oh come doun the stair and kame back yer yeller hair,
Take a last fareweel o yer daddy O."

"For it's braw, oh it's braw a captain's lady for tae be,
It's braw being a captain's lady O;
It's braw tae rant and rove and tae follow at his word,
And tae mairch when the captain he is ready O."

& Chorus:

The colonel he cried, "Come mount boys, mount."
The captain he said, "Let us tarry O,
Let us gyang nae awa this day at or twa,
Till we see if the bonnie lass'll marry O."

"I've gien ye my answer, kind sir," she said,
"And dinna spier at me ony farther O; [i.e. any more
For I have no intentions of going to foreign lands,
And I'd scorn to follow a sodger O."

& Chorus:

On the following mornin, they aa mairched awa,
And oh but oor captain he was sorry O;
An the drums they did beat ower the bonny braes o Gicht,
And the pipes played the 'Bonny Lewes o Fyvie O.'

And fan they won tae Auld Meldrum toun,
They haed their captain tae cairry O;
And fan they won tae bonnie Aiberdeen,
They hid their captain tae bury O.

& Chorus:

His name was captain Ward and he died on the guard,
He died for the love of pretty Peggy O;
He said, "When I'm gone, you will let it be known,
That I died for the bonnie lass o Fyvie O."

For green grow the birks upon bonnie Ythanside,
And low lie the bonnie lewes o Fyvie O;
In Fyvie there's bonnie, in Fyvie there's braw,
In Fyvie there's bonnie lassies mony O.

& Chorus:

The howe of Auchterless lies to the north of Fyvie and follows the river Ythan turning west at Towiebarclay Castle to the Kirkton of Auchterless. The Garioch, or the Gearie as it is pronounced, is the land to the west of Inverurie between Benachie and Oldmeldrum.

You can purchase a CD with this song at Springthyme Records

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