My love is the young brown-haired girl

Argyll and Bute

28 June 2021

A song by the “Blind Minister” and Duncan Bàn MacIntyre (1724-1812) Researched and sung by Evie Waddell

Lyrics

My love is the
young brown-haired girl.
Were you by my side,
I'd no longer be sad.
My love is the
young brown-haired girl.

Although I am sightless
I could make music
on new galleries
and wooden floors.

My love is the
young brown-haired girl.

You will not go to the high ground
seeking the white-headed cattle
for fear the young men
will be seeking your kisses.

My love is the
young brown-haired girl.

You won’t go near anyone
for fear of troubling me
and none will make me happy
but her and willingly so.

My love is the
young brown-haired girl.

Slate and dressed stone
will protect and shelter you
and showers will rain on you
if you’re with the big man’s son.

My love is the
young brown-haired girl.
Were you by my side,
I'd no longer be sad.
My love is the
young brown-haired girl.

It’s Mary MacNaughton
to whom I gave my promise
and she won’t be seen next year
as a dairymaid tending cattle.

My love is the
young brown-haired girl

No noble man would think
especially not the shepherd;
and it wouldn’t be good for the wayfarer
to be hot in your pursuit.

My love is the
young brown-haired girl

I’ll send you to Edinburgh
to learn English
and I’ll spend hundreds
on your marriage contract.

My love is the
young brown-haired girl
Were you by my side,
I'd no longer be sad
My love is the
young brown-haired girl.

Why I chose this song

At the beginning of this project I wanted to look at songs about people’s rights and especially the way disability and exclusion are represented in songs. This subject is important to me because I am deaf in one ear and I have made a sign-language out of Gaelic songs.

I found songs about people’s rights by getting in touch with Gillebrìde MacMillan who gave me his own composition Duan an Fhògarraich (The Refugee’s Plea). Jo Miller told me about a song by Mary Ann Kennedy called Togaibh na Drochaidean (Build Bridges). Alasdair Whyte told me about the poet Blind Allan (Allan MacDougall) and I heard about a song called O hì o hà mo luaidh mo leanabh (O hì o hà my love my child) from Iseabail T. MacDonald.
I chose this song because it was new to me and I liked the tune and the lady’s singing.

The author

This is a mixture of two songs – Duncan Bàn MacIntyre’s Òran Sùgraidh (A Song of Dalliance) and a song by the “Blind Minister”. This happened from time to time when people learned songs from each other without access to written texts. Sadly it is difficult to do any research about the Minister because we don’t know his name.
We have a lot of information about Duncan Bàn MacIntyre. He was born in Druimliaghairt, in Glen Orchy, Argyllshire. He was very keen on the natural environment and the Highlands. At different times he worked as a forester, as a soldier and as a guard. Most of his songs are about nature, love, war and fun.
Duncan Bàn MacIntyre had a very good memory. He could not read or write because he didn’t receive any formal education. This was because there wasn’t a school in every district. Duncan Bàn was a native Gaelic speaker and all his songs are composed in his native language. I would say that he knew English but Gaelic was natural to him.
The first collection of his poems was published in Edinburgh in 1768. In Praise of Ben Dorain is one of his most famous poems.

The song

This song is about a minister who is in love with a lady called Mary Nicolson. According to the story of the song they were intending to marry but her parents wouldn’t let her because he was blind. I was surprised to read this because, in my opinion, the Minister was a noble well-educated man.

The song mentions Mary MacNaughton, a dairymaid. We know that Duncan Bàn married another lady called Mary, Mary MacIntyre (Fair Young Mary), a young woman from Glen Orchy.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Karen Oakley, Abi Lightbody, Iseabail T MacDonald, Alasdair Whyte, Gillebrìde MacMillan, Jo Miller and Jo MacDonald who helped me with my research.

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