The Gaelic Tradition: Ged A Sheòl Mi Air M'Aineol
The North Shore Gaelic Singers at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island. Left to right: Malcolm Angus MacLeod, Thomas A. (Tommy Peggy) MacDonald, Sandy Kenny Morrison, Dan K. (Danny Kenny) MacLeod, Dan J. (Montana Dan) Morrison, Alex Kerr. Cape Breton's Magazine, Issue 21: 46. © 1972/2010 Ronald Caplan.
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About this Song

While most milling songs sung in Cape Breton originated in Scotland, this one is a genuine home-spun article. It was composed by Roderick Morrison of Loch Lomond, where his father William settled when he came from Berneray, Harris, about 1828. After spending some time as a gold miner in California, Roderick returned to Cape Breton and became postmaster at St. Peter's, where he started to build ships. He sailed as captain in the coastal trade.

The song is sung by The North Shore Gaelic Singers. This is a good example of traditional singing of milling songs where the verses were sung by several individual members, rather than a single soloist, and the entire group joined in the chorus.

Ged A Sheòl Mi Air M'Aineol. The North Shore Gaelic Singers. T-3203. Beaton Institute, Cape Breton University.

Lyrics

Sèist
Ged a sheòl mi air m'aineol
Cha d'laigh smalan air m'ìnntinn.
Ged a shèol mi air m'aineol.

1. 'S ann à Boston a shèol sinn,
Dol air bhòidse dha na h-Innsean.

2. Trì latha 'n dèidh dhuinn seòladh
Thàinig òirnne droch shìde.

3. Trì latha dhen a' gheamhradh
Bha mi 'n geall air mo rìbhinn.

4. Chaill mi craiceann mo làmhan,
Bha mo ghàirdeanan sgith dheth.

5. Mi ri dìreadh anns an "rigging"
'N àm bu mhiosa dhen an t-sìde.

6. Dh'fhalbh an "rigging" bhon "bhowsprit"
Leis an tonn a bha dìreadh.

7. Dh'fhalbh an "topsail" 's an "royal";
Ò cha spòrs a bhith ga ìnnse.

8. Dol a sheòladh a Shasainn,
Tilleadh dhachaidh fo mhìghean.

9. Ach nam bithinn aig mo mhàthair,
Gheibhinn plàdaichean mìne.

10. ??????

11. Aon latha dhen a' gheamhradh
Bha mi 'n geall air mo rìbhinn.

12. Mun an sgoil an làithean m'òige
Tha mi tòiseachadh ri ìnnse.

13. Cha robh ròpa 's an robh òirleach
Nuair a reòth e nach robh trì ann.

14. ???????

Translation:

Although I Sailed as a Stranger

Chorus
Although I sailed as a stranger
Sadness did not dwell on my mind.
Although I sailed as a stranger.

1. It was from Boston that we sailed
On a voyage to the Indies.

2. Three days after we sailed
Bad weather descended upon us.

3. Three days of winter
I was pledged to my sweetheart.

4. I lost the skin of my hands;
My arms were tired of the struggle.

5. I was climbing the rigging
When the weather was at its worst.

6. The rigging was separated from the bowsprit
By the rising wave.

7. The topsail and the royal blew away;
Oh, it wasn't funny to talk about it.

8. About to sail to England,
Returning home dejectedly.

9. But if I were at my mother's
I would get soft blankets.

10. ???????

11. One day of the winter
I was pledged to my sweetheart.

12. School when I was young,
I'm about to tell about it.

13. There wasn't an inch-thick rope
That didn't extend to three inches when it froze.

14. ???????