Henry's Songbook

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The Thatcher O' Glenrae

  • (Hector McIlfatrick)

    First time I cam tae the shire o' Argyll
    I went to Glenmore where I rocht a guid while
    The job being finished, Big Jamie did say
    Will ye gang and theek rashes twa days in Glenrae

    So it's when I crossed over the mountains sae high
    I met an old man wi' a patch on his eye
    Says he, Ye're a stranger, what brought ye this way
    I was sent by Big Jamie to thatch in Glenrae

    The farmer says shyly, I've little to do
    Says I, Then you're better wi' Jamie od Hugh
    Then either to fright me or scare me away
    Can you theek wi' auld rashes said McNeill o' Glenrae

    I can theek wi' auld rashes, wi' heather or ling
    Bent, bracken or dockens, or any wan thing
    Oh ye're just the man 'il get plenty tae dae
    And I'll get ye a ladder, says McNeill o' Glenrae

    I waited on there till I finished the job
    And it's o'er yon wild mountains I had for to jog
    Should I stay in this country till my hair it turns grey
    I'll never go back for to thatch in Glenrae

    And I took a notion it's home for to go
    I went to Ballycastle, the wages was low
    I went up to Hughie and this I did say
    I'll go back to Kintyre, but no to Glenrae

    (as sung by Dick Gaughan)

    Tune: Erin Go Bragh

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1979:] The note [on The Thatchers of Glenrea in Willie Mitchell's private song collection] reads as follows: "This song was composed by Hector McIlfatrick, a thatcher of Ballycastle, who died there about 1900. It was supplied to the collector of Irish songs, Sam Henry, by Mr. A. McEachran of Kilblaan, who collected it from Hugh McMillan of Kilbride, who in turn heard it from the author. This is a real country tune, it's a pity that all the words are not worthy of being sung."
    With The Thatchers, therefore, we traverse the Moyle in both directions; it was written by an Irish labourer while working in 'the shire of Argyle'; was learned by a Kintyre man direct from the author; was passed on by the Kintyre man to a local collector, and later transmitted by this collector to Sam Henry in Coleraine. It seems possible that the McMillan who erupts in the last verse of the song might be a relative of the McMillan who learned it from the author:

    Then down comes McMillan, he gave a wild roar
    The big Irish thatchers have arrived on our shore
    My master he wants you without any delay
    For to go and theek rashes, but not to Glenrea

    There is even a mixture of Scots and Irish dialect in an earlier verse [see verse 4 above]. (Henderson, Alias MacAlias 184)

  • [2000:] I'd completely forgotten this, not having sung it in 25 years. A couple of small amendments [corrected above] - "I went to Glenmore where I rocht a guid while". Otherwise your transcription is spot on. I learned it from Gordon MacAuley, a friend of the Willie Mitchell mentioned in Hamish's piece, but part of my brain was somewhere else that day and I ended up singing it to a totally different tune. (Dick Gaughan,, 7 Nov)

Quelle: Scotland

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