Jean Irvine                                                         SA1971.217.2

Jean explained that this was a chant used while rocking a baby in its cradle.  Linga is an island lying to the west of Whalsay and providing good protection for the harbour of Symbister on Whalsay itself.  The Banks o’ Lea are on the northwest coast of Whalsay just under the lee of Kirk Ness.  Whalsay resident Andy Sandison remarked that it’s possible that this was one of the places where fish were landed during the period of winter fishing inshore.  However these place names may simply be insignificant rhythmic fillers for the chant.    Now no. 25918 in the Roud Index.

Row the boats o’ mailie,  ships anunder sailie
Fae the banks o’ Linga, tae da banks o’ Lea;
Wi a skate rumple, black bawbee.       [lower part of the backbone of a skate]
Row fast and row strong,
Brak the boats that winna ging

Fae the banks o’ Linga tae da banks o’ Lea.