Follow they will not dare

It was the last pitched battle on British soil and it was a bloody rout.  The Battle of Culloden spelt the end of the long, brave attempt to overthrow the House of Hanover (established through “parliamentary interference”) and restore the exiled House of Stuart to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Taking its name from the exiled King James II, the Jacobite Movement (Latin for James is Jacobus) ultimately brought forth King James’ grandson, the dashing 26-year-old pretender, Charles Edward Stuart, aka “Bonnie Prince Charlie.”  But on 16 April 1746 near the highland city of Inverness the out-gunned and under-trained Jacobites were slaughtered by the loyalist troops commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, aka “the Butcher.”

Forced to flee into the moors, Charles’ flight became the stuff of legend.  Helped by many a highlander, despite the £30,000 on his head (big money to this day), he managed to elude his pursuers and barely evaded capture by making it to the Isle of Skye.  There he was spirited away by frigate to France where (except for a brief return to London incognito) he remained in exile for the rest of his life.

While on a trip to the Isle of Skye in the 1870s, musicologist Anne Campbell MacLeod was being rowed over Loch Coruisk when the rowers broke into a striking Gaelic song called “Cuachag nan Craobh.” MacLeod later set down what she remembered of the melody with the intention of using it in a book she was to co-author with fellow musicologist Sir Harold Boulton.

Boulton then added in the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s escape in which he was rowed to Skye disguised as a serving maid, with the aid of the Jacobite heroine Flora MacDonald (who was later imprisoned in the Tower of London before emigrating to North Carolina). “The Skye Boat Song” was indeed published in that co-authored book, “Songs of the North” by Boulton and MacLeod, London 1884.

This is yet another track from the prodigious Hollie Smith on her 1999 album of Celtic music “Light From a Distant Shore.” A singer-songwriter of Māori descent, it was recorded when she was 16.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Sunday 9 December

The Skye Boat Song

 Speed bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing

Onward the sailors cry

Carry the lad that’s born to be king

Over the sea to Skye

 Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar

Thunder clouds rend the air

Baffled, our foe’s stand on the shore

Follow they will not dare

 Speed bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing

Onward the sailors cry

Carry the lad that’s born to be king

Over the sea to Skye

Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep

Ocean’s a royal bed

Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep

Watch by your weary head

Speed bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing

Onward the sailors cry

Carry the lad that’s born to be king

Over the sea to Skye

 Many’s the lad fought on that day

Well the claymore could wield

When the night came, silently lay

Dead on Culloden’s field

 Speed bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing

Onward the sailors cry

Carry the lad that’s born to be king

Over the sea to Skye

Burned are our homes, exile and death

Scatter the loyal men

Yet, e’er the sword cool in the sheath

Charlie will come again

Speed bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing

Onward the sailors cry

Carry the lad that’s born to be king

Over the sea to Skye

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