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My Last Farewell to Stirling

A bothy ballad about a bitter leave taking. A man caught poaching the lord's hare and pheasant has been caught and sentenced to 20 years' transportation to Australia.

Nae lark in transport mounts the sky
Or leaves wi early plaintive cry
But I will bid a last goodbye
My last fareweel tae Stirling, oh

Chorus

Though far awa, my heart’s wi you
Our youthful oors upon wings they flew
But I will bid a last adieu
A last fareweel tae Stirling, oh

Nae mair I’ll meet ye in the dark
Or gang wi you tae the King’s Park
Or raise the hare from oot their flap
When I gae far fae Stirling, oh

Nae mair I’ll wander through the glen
Disturb the roost o the pheasant hen
Or chase the rabbits tae their den
When I gae far fae Stirling, oh

There's one request before I go
And this is to my comrades all
My dog and gun I leave tae you
When I gae far fae Stirling oh

So fare thee weel, my Jeannie dear
For you I’ll shed a bitter tear
I'll hope you'll find another dear
When I go far fae Stirling, oh

 So fare thee well, for I am bound
For twenty years to Van Dieman’s Land
But think of me and what I’ve done
When I gae far fae Stirling, oh.

This recording is sung by Charlie Murray. Charlie was born in 1916 in the Black Isle, Ross-shire, and worked on farms there, in the Lothians and in Forfar.

People sometimes think that such songs must only have been handed down from singer to singer by the oral process of listening and learning, but writing down the words, or finding them in print, often happened.

Charlie remembered hearing the tune of this song sung in his younger days, but he learned the words from a version printed in Ewan MacColl's book 'Scotland Sings' (1952). That version had been collated by Hamish Henderson from two versions he had recorded for the archives of the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh.

Listen to 'My Last Farewell to Stirling', sung by farmworker Charlie Murray.
From Bothy Ballads (Scottish Tradition Series vol 1), CDTRAX9001 (January 1993), Greentrax Recordings.

  • My Last Farewell to Stirling

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