Marbhaisg air an Òige

Ho-rì ma-hug òran-ò
Hi-ao rò mo-ni dh’éirich
Ho-rì ma-hug òran-ò

Marbhaisg air an òige
‘S a’ ghòraich’ ‘chur ri chéile
‘S nair a thug na fir a dh’òl mi
‘S a thug mi seòrsa géill dhaibh

Am faighinn ás na glasan seo
Théid mi dhachaidh agas bhithinn réidh dhiubh
‘S chan fhaigheamh ead an sàs a-rithist
Gead a dh’itheamh ead a chéile

A’ toirt m’ ùidh air Loch Buidhe
Shaoil leam nach dèanamh tu mo thréigsinn
Cho òg ‘s a bha mi ad bhàthaich
Ag arac do chuid spréidh

‘S ann a-mach ri Braigh a’ Mhuilinn
Leag mi ‘n seannach feamh nan caorach
Cha dug e leis ach sia dhiubh
‘S chaidh am fiach Ionar Aora

Clann a’ Bhacastair
An Fheàrnach, Comhghall


A Death Shroud on the Youth(s)

A death shroud on the youths
And the idiot that put (them) together
And the men that got me drunk
I gave a kind of promise to them

Supposing I get out of these locks
I will go home and I’ll be done with them
And they wouldn’t get (me) involved again
Even would they eat one another

Setting my hope on Loch Buidhe
I supposed you wouldn’t carry out my abandonment
So young was I in your byre
Watching your share of livestock

Tis out on the Mill Brae
I let the fox among the sheep
He took not but six wih him
And they were valued in Inveraray (ie the jail)

The Baxter Family
Fearnoch Farm, Cowal


Holmer’s Notation


I first heard this song in a recording of Gill·Easbaig Bacastair (Archie Baxter) by David Clement from 1973 in which he sings a few sections of it. From this we learned the verse melody and began singing the parts of the song we knew. When Nils Holmer’s family kindly allowed us access to his collection from Cowal, we were thrilled to find the song in its entirety.

Unfortunately, we were not quite sure how his notation operated and as a result were not able to ascertain the run of the chorus melody. During this process, we had been singing the song with a chorus melody which seemed to fit, unaware that we had actually appropriated the chorus of Òran an t-Saighdeir (Song of the Soldier) until pointed out by Griogair Labhruidh!

We have since then been lucky enough to receive the assistance of both Arthur Holmer and Frances Dunlop and have now worked out the correct melody of the song as a whole.

We have never heard this song anywhere else. It appears to have been lost and may have been entirely were it not for Holmer collecting it from the Baxter family in the 1930s. An intriguing thing from David Clement’s recording is that he asks Archie Baxter why Morvern songs were sung in Cowal, as if this song originated there. In Holmer’s notes, he lists it as “A Cowal Song”, but there are several things which suggest that it may not be.

The first and most obvious of these is that the plaintive talks about being at the mercy of Maclaine of Loch Buidhe (Yellow Loch), and assuming that this is the same loch as the one in south Mull, it would have been odd for a Cowal boy to have been up there working. The second is the mention of another placename, Bràigh a’ Mhullinn (The Mill Brae), this time in the Ross of Mull. We are unable to find a like name in the Cowal or Mid-Argyll areas, suggesting –coupled with the previous point- that we are in fact dealing with a Mull song. The third –albeit incidental point- is the use of the numeral sia (six) which is universally spoken and written in Cowal, as of old. Our first instinct was that this was a feature of the Inveraray dialect, given that it may well have mixed some North Argyll forms, connected as it is to the Glen Orchy area by north-running glens, but that would not appear make the reference to the above placenames any more logical.

We would therefore be extremely pleased indeed to hear your thoughts on this song and possible theories on its origins.

Whatever those turn out to be, it has very much been claimed by the Dalriada Gaelic community as a standard in both our lives and our live sets and will continue to be so. If the rendering of it by the Baxters is anything to go by, showing final –amh, instead of –adh; ead in place of iad; arac where you would normally find amharc and seannach for sionnach, we may assume that it has long been a favourite of theirs, sung around the fire at the farm at an Fheàrnach (Fearnoch), which they inhabited continuously for some three hundred years.