Bàthadh na Duibhsgeir

Composed by Unknown

Researched and sung by Ruairidh Cormack

Sorrowful and pitiful is the news
that is over in Trotternish;
I shall lament as long as I live
My kindred folk who were there;
They were the handsome lads
who were not foolish around drink,
Who were pleasant, gentle and firm,
Mannerly, knowledgeable and without guile.

It was in the strait of Duibhsgeir
That the handsome heroes fell,
They could be recognised in the king’s company
After travelling for miles;
It was the strength of the wind
That changed your minds,
It was the size of the load inside her,
That sent her down with you all in it.

But Murdo MacLeod
You were my darling young man,
I would recognise your yawl
Gliding in sail towards the bay;
And me putting peat on the fire
For the pleasant young men that I loved –
Although you were not of my clan,
Your death was painful to me.

But my dear MacLean
Whom the arrow pierced painfully,
It is you who lost the manly young men
Who could not be bettered;
You lost your joy and your merriment
And little is your desire for laughter,
Until you are laid in the ground
Your wound refreshes your pain.

The song

This is a sad song with beautiful poetry about a man who was drowned in the parish of Trotternish at the northern end of the Isle of Skye. A friend in the song gives us a picture of the day his friend was drowned after his boat had gone on the rocks. He speaks of how sorrowful he feels and praises the person who was drowned.

Ruairidh Cormack, 2019


Filmed at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness
Filmed by Mike Webster, Spiral Out Pictures
Make-up Sam Whitby
Recorded at The Green Door Studio, Glasgow