Willie Williamson [MacDonald’s return to Glencoe] SA1971.219.5
A much traveled and popular broadsheet ballad harking back to the Napoleonic wars, for it was known not only in the United Kingdom and and Ireland but also Australia and throughout the maritime provinces of Canada and the USA. Willie’s tune is reminiscent of some of the many that Gavin Greig collected in Aberdeenshire. Scots traveler Sheila Stewart won a prize in the first festival of the Traditional Music and Song Association in Blairgowrie in 1970 singing this ballad, but with quite a different air (see Tobar an Dualchais ‘Donald’s return to Glencoe’). The ballad is listed on page 1 of Chas. Sanderson’s song sheet catalogue of Favourite Songs in Country Districts which was still reaching Whalsay in the 1940s. Willie said that it was one that his father sang. Roud index no. 515.
As I was out walking one evening of late
By Flora’s gay mantle the fields decorate.
I carelessly wandered where I did not know
Near the slopes to a fountain that lies in Glencoe.
Like her who the prize on Mount Ida had won
There approached me a lassie as bright as the sun.
Her ribbons and tartans around her did flow
Which had once pleased MacDonald the pride of Glencoe.
I said my bonnie lassie your enchanting smile
And comely young features doth my heart beguile,
And if your affections on me will bestow
We’ll bless the happy hour that we met in Glencoe.
Oh no my dear Sir, your suit I disdain.
I once had a sweetheart, Macdonald by name.
He went to the war about ten years ago
And a maid I’ll remain till he returns to Glencoe.
Perhaps your Macdonald regards not your name
And has fixed his affection on some foreign dame,
And may have forgotten for aught that you know
The bonnie young lassie he left in Glencoe.
My Donald can never from his promise depart
For love, truth and honour are found in his heart,
And if I ne’er see him still singly I’ll go
And mourn for my Donald, the pride of Glencoe.
The power of the French it is hard to pull down
Causing many a brave hero to die of his wound.
And with your Macdonald it may happen so
That the man you love dearly perhaps is laid low.
MacDonald’s true valour when tried in the field,
Like his gallant ancestors, disdain to yield.
The power of the French he will soon overthrow
And in splendour return to my arms in Glencoe.
Then seeing her so constant he pulled out a glove
Which in parting she gave him as a token of love
She fell on his arms while the tears down did flow
Saying, ‘You are my Donald returned to Glencoe.’
“Yon’s aa right you know, whether you believe it or no”.