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Hoy’s Dark and Lofty Isle
When we started this project, we didn't know who wrote Hoy's Dark and Lofty Isle, although Sarah Jane thought its lyrics suggest it may have been penned in the nineteenth century. Local tradition in Hoy, as noted by Alan Bruford, states that Mary lived in Hoy (Bruford 1987, 110). It tells of a sailor returning from Greenland whaling, and dying within sight of Hoy and the home of his sweetheart Mary.
During the course of the project, one of our volunteers searching the OLA found a copy of the song printed in a back copy of the local paper, The Orcadian. A written note accompanying the song said that it was written by "the late J Aim". Sarah Jane did some research, and discovered that the author was a James Aim who was a school teacher in Sandwick, Orkney in the later 1800s. We'll put up some more information this once the cataloguing and databases are complete.
The earliest printed version of this song found so far is from The Orcadian (the local newspaper) in 1933 (words only) and again in 1934 (words and tune).
Archive versions include: -
Davie Laughton, recorded by Peter Kennedy in July 1955. First published on Folktrax cassettes 1980. http://www.folktrax-archive.org/menus/cassprogs/189orkneysingers.htm
Peter Pratt from Toab, recorded by Peter Kennedy 1955.
Sydney Scott from North Ronaldsay, recorded by Alan Bruford in 1965 and Ann Marwick in the 1980s.
Ethel Findlater, Dounby, recorded by Peter Kennedy in 1955 and Alan Bruford in the 1960s amongst others.
Several artists have recorded versions of this songs including Knowe o’ Deil (Orkney Anthem Attic Records 1980s), Seelyhoo (First Caul Greentrax 1996) and the Songshop choir (Fruteetee 2008).
The Cock o' Byam
At the Kirkwall Songshare on 31st January, Brian Cromarty sang a song about murder! Here are the words to the song that he sung, taken from a poem written by David "Porky" Horne (1876-1940), a well known Kirkwall butcher who also took many photographs in and around Orkney. (Wasn't he a talented chap?)
When the cock o’ Byam crew But when the orraman passed by,
When the cock o’ Byam crew
But when the orraman passed by,
He saw her face in his plate of brose, But worst of all But all the cock o’ Byam meant
But worst of all
But all the cock o’ Byam meant