Loch Maree – en
29 June 2021
A song by Angus MacPhee (1927 – 2011); John A. MacLeod (1919 - 2011); Roy Ford Researched and sung by Rory Cormack
Come with me to the land of the bens
Will you come with me to where I was young
It’s my desire to be in the West with my sweetheart
In the twilight beside Loch Maree;
A curlew up there high in the skies
Stream of cold water and the laugh in the step,
Welcoming us warmly to the glens
And we will make a home by Loch Maree.
Till the end of time I will extol its beauty
In the land of my love where I would wish to be
The sound of the pipes marching across the moor
Waking thoughts close to our hearts;
Total happiness to be by your side
With the breadth of our love our store
And settling with you where the heather of the tops
Grows beautifully lovely by Loch Maree.
Where is there another place so lovely to see
From Glencairn looking west
With the waters of the loch shining before you
Going downhill in the evening light;
Culaneilean and Slioch ahead of you
With Meall a’ Ghiuthas to your left
Who has ever seen a bonnier loch
Travelling around by Loch Maree.
My thoughts often turn
To the days of my youth as I was
Happy walking by the braes
By the loch that is so close to my heart;
And if you come willingly with me
We will be together in love and peace
In our beautiful lovely home
Snug down there by Loch Maree.
(Translation from Òrain nan Rosach, compiled by Fiona MacKenzie, Highland Regional Council 2005)
Why I chose the song
I began my research on the internet looking for songs from my own area, Ross-shire. After a short while I found a book and CD by Fiona MacKenzie both titled ‘Òrain nan Rosach’. After listening to the songs and reading the lyrics I came to the conclusion that I was particularly interested in Angus MacPhee’s work. There was something slightly magical about his writing that affected me and I really like the imagery he created. It was obvious that there was a strong connection between Angus and Fiona so I sent her an e-mail asking for more information about Angus. As it happened Angus was a kind of mentor to her!
Angus was born on the 8th of July 1927 and he died on the 13th of February 2011, aged 83. He was brought up in Glasgow and Skye and he was a graduate of Glasgow School of Art. After this he worked as an art teacher in Inverness. He had a particular interest in pipe music and song-writing. Angus and his wife sang with Dingwall Gaelic Choir and in 2006 he published his own book of Gaelic songs, based on pipe music. The ‘The Crunluath Collection’ shows how many of his songs are to a great extent based on pipe music, although they are new compositions.
In the song ‘Loch Maree’ Angus writes about the happiness he feels sitting surrounded by nature beside Loch Maree. He wishes to take his sweetheart to the loch, where they would be together in love and in peace. The view takes Angus back to his young days.
Roy Ford wrote the first two verses in English and won first prize in an STV competition for them. He asked John Angus MacLeod to translate his two verses into Gaelic. John Angus MacLeod was from Harris although he spent many years living in Gloucestershire and in Largs. He was crowned bard by An Comann Gàidhealach in 1971 and his poems, ‘Loch Maree’ among them, are published in the book Luinneagan MhicLeòid (1973). He died in September 2011.
I would like to thank Karen Oakley, Jo MacDonald and Fiona MacKenzie who helped me with my research.