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Fisher Folk Songs
A compilation from the book
Dark Birthright


Traditional Fisher Folk Songs of Northeast Scotland

Who would be a fisherman's wife?

"Who would be a fisherman's wife?
To go to the mussels with a scrubber and a knife
A dead out fire
And a reveled bed
Away to the mussels in the morning

See the boat come beatin' in
With three reefs to the foresail in
Not a stitch
Upon his back
Away to the mussels in the morning"

The Bonnie Fisher Lass

"Twas in the month of August one morning by the sea,
When violets and cowslips they so delighted me.
I met a pretty damsel for an empress she might pass,
And my heart was captivated by the bonnie fisher lass.

Her petticoats she wore so short, they came below her knee.
Her handsome leg and ankle, they so delighted me.
Her rosy cheeks her yellow hair, for an empress she might pass,
And wi' her creel she daily toiled, the bonnie fisher lass. 

I stepped up beside her and to her I did say
'Why are you out so early? Why are you going this way?'
She said 'I'm going to look for bait, now allow me for to pass.
For our lines we must get ready' said the bonnie fisher lass.

Her petticoats she wore so short, they came below her knee.
Her handsome leg and ankle, they so delighted me.
Her rosy cheeks her yellow hair, for an empress she might pass,
And wi' her creel she daily toiled, the bonnie fisher lass." 

The Boatie Rows

"O weel may the boatie row,
 and better she may speed;
 O weel may the boatie row,
 That brings the bairns' breid."

The boatie rows, the boatie rows,
 The boatie rows full well;  
 And muckle good before the drag,
 The marline and the creel."

Mairi's Wedding

Step we gaily on we go,
Heel for heel and toe for toe,
Arm in arm and row and row,
All for Mairi's wedding.

Over hillways up and down,
Myrtle green and the bracken brown,
Past the sheiling through the town,
Is our darling Mairi.

Red her cheeks as rowans are.
Bright her eyes as any star,
Fairest o them all by far,
Is our darling Mairi.

Plenty herring plenty meal,
Plenty peat tae fill her creel,
Plenty bonnie bairns as weel,
That's the toast for Mairi.

This medley was compiled by Jeanne Treat, author of Dark Birthright, a 17th century tale from Scotland.

There are many songs referenced in this book, taken from traditional Scottish folk music.  Most of these compositions are over 100 years old and in the public domain, with one exception. "Mairi's Wedding" was written by Johnny Bannerman in Gaelic in 1935 for his friend Mairi McNiven, and translated into English a year later by Hugh Roberton.

Some of these songs are still performed today, by artists such as Isla St Clair and The Johnson Girls.

For more information, visit us online at www.darkbirthright.com


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