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From Rudy Ramsey
I've been meaning to write the lyrics down, anyway. I couldn't find
them anywhere here (though there is a similar version in the CD insert
of the Corries' "Silver Collection", which I've misplaced). I know the
song well, though, and believe these lyrics to be accurate. I can't
remember where I originally got them, but I suspect it was Ewan
MacColl. The Corries' version of this song is truly beautiful, by the
There's a lovely story associated with the song, and I believe it to be
the true origin of the "Loch Lomond" and "High Road" songs, of which
there are several variants. I admit that I don't have detailed
documentation for the story, however, and I'm writing it from memory,
too. Caveat emptor, and all. :-)
The Jacobite Rebellion came to an end with the Jacobites disastrous
loss at the Battle of Culloden, April 16, 1746. After the battle, many
of the captured Scottish soldiers were taken by the English to
Carlisle, where they were imprisoned at Carlisle Castle. The English
treated the Scotsmen rather capriciously, selecting some -- apparently
at random -- to be hanged. Others, also seemingly chosen at random,
were simply released, and told to walk home, over the roads, to
One of the captured Scottish soldiers was Donald MacDonald. He felt sure that he would be one of those hanged by the English, and he wrote this song. One can suppose it was meant as a memorial, a message of hope for his fellow Scotsmen, and a last love letter to his beloved Moira, who lived back in the Scottish highlands, near Loch Lomond.
The song is written to be sung not by Donald, but by Moira. It tells of
the journey of Donalds spirit after his death. He returns to Scotland
not by the high road -- the ordinary road over which his countrymen are
walking home -- but by the low road of death, a much faster and surer
route. Donalds spirit visits Moira and makes love to her one last time.
But she can tell that he is gone, and that she will not see him again,
in this life.
This is not the version most people sing, it starts off
"By Yon Bonnie Banks and By Yon Bonnie Braes".....
O whither away my bonnie May
Sae late and sae dark in the gloamin?
The mist gathers gray oer moorland and brae.
O whither sae far are ye roamin?
O, yell tak the high road and Ill tak the low.
Ill be in Scotland afore ye.
For me and my true love will never meet again
By the bonnie, bonnie banks o Loch Lomond.
I trusted my ain love last night in the broom,
My Donald wha loves me sae dearly.
For the morrow he will march for Edinburgh toon,
Tae fecht for his king and Prince Charlie.
O, weel may I weep for yestreen in my sleep.
We lay bride and bridegroom together.
But his touch and his breath were cold as the death,
And his hairtsblood ran red in the heather.
As dauntless in battle as tender in love,
Hed yield neer a foot tae the foeman.
But never again frae the fields o the slain
Tae his Moira will he come by Loch Lomond.
The thistle may bloom, the king hae his ain,
And fond lovers will meet in the gloamin.
And me and my true love will yet meet again
Far above the bonnie banks o Loch Lomond.
I'm still interested in finding out more about this Donald MacDonald (that was the subject of my original posting in this thread). If anyone can point me to likely sources, I would appreciate it.
It appears that this version of Loch Lomond was written by
Donald McDonnell of Clan Keppoch.
The popular Loch Lomond tune is also shared by the Irish song
"Yellow is the rose"
Scottish FAQ > FAQ Contents > Song lyrics > Loch Lomond > Top
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