The Braes O' Balquhidder

Robert Tannahill (1744-1810) 


This example of "The Braes of Balquidder" is sung by 3 Pints Gone on their CD The Beaches of St. Valery, available from the Chivalry Music store
Please refer to Cantaria's Copyright information

Background notes

It is very probable that this song was the original form of "Wild Mountain Thyme." It's a very lovely song, performed by the Tannahill Weavers on capernaum. According to the capernaum liner notes, "The Braes o' Balquihidder" appeared twice in R.A. Smith's Scottish Minstrel (1821-1824) - Vol I, p. 49 and Vol. IV, p. 89. The latter air is a modification of the first and is called "The Three Carles o' Buchanan."

Irish traditional singer Elizabeth Cronin sang this song, too, but the tune was quite different. In The Songs of Elizabeth Cronin (Daubhi O Croinin, pub. 1999), the notes say "the song was composed  by the Scottish poet Robert Tannahill and set to music by R.A. Smith." This might be the first version of Smith's tune.

Balquihidder is pronounced bal'-whither. 

The village of Balquidder lies in central Scotland and is mainly known for being the burial place of Rob Roy. To this day the entire village consists of a cemetery and church ruins, a community center, a B&B, a shop or two and some absolutely breathtaking scenery. 

Biography of Robert Tannahill

Let us go, lassie, go,
Tae the braes o' Balquhidder,
Whar the blueberries grow
'Mang the bonnie Hielan heather
Whar the deer and the rae
Lichtly bounding thegither,
Sport the lang summer days
On the braes o' Balquhidder.

I will twin thee a bow'r
By the clear silver fountain,
And I'll cover it o'er
Wi' the flooers o' the mountain
I will range through the wilds
And the deep glens sae dreary,
And return wi' their spoils
Tae the bow'r o' my dearie.

When the rude wintry win'
Idly waves roun' oor dwellin'
And the roar o' the linn
On the night breeze is swellin'
So merrily we'll sing
As the storm rattles o'er us
Till the dear sheilin' ring
Wi' the light liltin chorus.

Noo the summers in prime
Wi' the flooers richly bloomin'
Wi' the wild mountain thyme
A' the moorlan's perfumin'
Tae oor dear native scenes
Let us journey thegither,
Whar glad innocence reigns,
Mang the braes o' Balquhidder.

brae - hill
twin - plait (braid/weave)
rae - roe deer
linn - waterfall
flooer - flower
hielan' - highland
lichtly - lightly
lang - long
mang - among
nicht - night
sheilin - cottage