Fail Ò Rò Bhon Dh’Fhàg Sinn – en

Western Isles

14 June 2016

Composed by: unknown
Researched & performed by: Isabelle Bain

I got the words for this song from Alex Graham (Am Prem) from Gress. He was a son of Murdo Graham. He was born 9th February 1930 and died in March 2008. He gave me these words when I was eight or nine years old. He had come to hear me singing his father’s song ‘On the Fourth Day of August’ at the Mòd. Afterwards he asked me to visit him as he had a song for me which he thought would suit me. He gave me the words but I’ve only recently began singing the song. I don’t know who composed the song and unfortunately Alex is no longer with us to tell us.


Fail ò rò since we left
Our homeland and our relations,
The young lads from our area
Raising sails to high masts,
Fail ò rò how we left.

The Barque that sailed with us out of Clyde,
She was a beauty at sea,
There were twenty-three sails
On the fairest of maidens,
Fail ò rò how we left.

Out near the brown island
Raising the lofty sails,
When she refused to tack round for us
The Swede who was on board was drowned,
Fail ò rò how we left.

The Swede who was at one side
Climbing up a ladder,
When she listed to windward
It was in the sea she left him,
Fail ò rò how we left.

I was horrified
When I heard what was said;
What the mate said in English was,
“That’s the very best place for him”,
Fail ò rò how we left.

The mate who was on the quarterdeck
Was shouting up to me,
Is it any wonder though I’d be grey-haired
If sea-spray could do it?
Fail ò rò how we left.

When it was my turn on the wheel,
And I climbed up there;
I would have far preferred then
To have been on my mother’s pillow,
Fail ò rò how we left.

The trip has now ended,
Each rope and gear in place;
The anchor is on her shoulder
And Greenock on her starboard,
Fail ò rò how we left.

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