Ye Boys o Callieburn

On Springthyme SPRCD 1042
Shepheard, Spiers & Watson - They Smiled as We Cam In

Pete Shepheard: When I was involved in organising the early TMSA festivals in Blairgowrie we set out to bring together traditional singers and musicians from all parts of Scotland. The Mitchell Family of Campbeltown in Kintyre (father, mother, daughter and son-in-law) were invited to the 1968 festival on the recommendation of Hamish Henderson who had come across Campbeltown butcher and amateur folksong collector Willie Mitchell in 1956 during a lecture tour in Argyll organised by the WEA. The MitchellsÕ singing of several Kintyre songs provided a most memorable highlight of that gathering in 1968 - two songs in particular - NancyÕs Whisky and the local Kintyre emigration song Ye Boys o Callieburn (Roud 6932) that he had collected from Mr Reid, the farmer at Callieburn. Willie Scott was also a guest that same year and, after a wonderful informal Saturday afternoon ceilidh in the Sun Lounge of the Angus Hotel and, with the texts from Willie Mitchell, he quickly took both songs into his repertoire.

The small farming community of Callieburn is in the hills a few miles north of Campbeltown and the song tells of emigration from an area that suffered hardship in the 1830s and 1840s - especially during the Ōhungry 40sÕ when the West Highlands had a famine almost as severe as that in Ireland.

Pete (vocal) with Tom (fiddle and vocal) and Arthur (whistle and vocal)

1: John Blair and I hae taen the notion,
Tae cross the wide Atlantic ocean;
Rab MacKinlayÕs gaen afore us,
He will keep us aa in order.

Chorus:
Hame fareweel, freens fareweel,
And ye boys o Callieburn, fare ye weel.

2: We leave the land of our forefathers,
Knowing not what may befall us;
America, Õtwas thee that wiled us,
For tae leave oor ag¸d parents.

3: We leave the land where we were born,
Oor parents standing all forlorn;
This is a song of oor own composing,
Comrades dear, come join the chorus.

4: Machrihanish, bright and bonnie,
ItÕs oÕer thy beach the waves are rolling;
Machrihanish I adore thee,
Never more shall I be oÕer thee.

5: Callieburn IÕll mind thee ever,
From your lands I now must sever;
May thy people dwell in thee for ever,
But may they gain a greater favour.

6: Now in America we have arriv¸d,
And of oor freends we are depriv¸d;
We leave them aa behind us sighing,
Maybe yet weÕll meet in Zion.

7: John Blair and I hae taen the notion,
Tae cross the wide Atlantic ocean;
This is a song of oor own composing,
Comrades dear come join the chorus.

Chorus:
Hame fareweel, freens fareweel,
And ye boys o Callieburn, fare ye weel;
Hame fareweel, freens fareweel,
And ye boys o Callieburn, fare ye weel.

c p 2006 Springthyme Records