Mingulay Boat Song

Maritime-themed Song

Sir Hugh S. Roberton (1874–1952)

What care we how light the spray is?
What care we for wind or weather?
Let her go, boys, every inch is
Sailin’ homeward to Mingulay.

Heel ya ho, boys, let her go boys! 
Heave her head ’round into the weather! 
Heel ya ho, boys, let her go boys! 
Sailin’ homeward to Mingulay!

Clap your eyes on the sun arisin’, 
Gulls and doves fill the sky with feather.
Cut her loose, boys, for the horizon. 
We’ll be home soon in Mingulay. (Chorus)

Wives are waitin’ on the bank or
Lookin’ seaward, from the heather. 
Pull her round boys, and you’ll anchor
‘Ere the sun sets on Mingulay. (Chorus)

[Ladies] Wives are waiting by the harbor;
We’ve been waiting since break of day.
[Men] We’re pumped dry and walking larboard,
To our wives on Mingulay. (Chorus, Round, Chorus)


image of album cover for Bounding Main Lost at Sea - click for more info about the album

Song Notes

From Wikipedia:  The melody is described in Roberton’s Songs of the Isles as a traditional Gaelic tune, probably titled “Lochaber”.[1] The tune was part of an old Gaelic song, “Òran na Comhachaig” (the ‘Creag Ghuanach’ portion); from Brae Lochaber.  The song describes fishermen sailing homeward to the isle of Mingulay where their families wait.

The lyrics that Bounding Main sings are particular to the group, having evolved out of the folk music scene.   Several bands have altered these lyrics to suit their group idioms, particularly the third and fourth verses.

Mingulay is the second southernmost island in the Hebrides chain (the Island chain west of Scotland).  After two thousand years or more of continuous habitation, the island was abandoned by its Gaelic-speaking residents in 1912 and has remained uninhabited since!