FolkWorld #60 07/2016
© Seán Laffey

The Donside Emigrant's Farewell

Songs That Made History: Now here is a song with one of the sweetest melodies in all of folk music, so addictive is the tune that it has adapted to fit many ballads over the past 150 years.

The Donside Emigrant's Farewell

Come all my old comrades, once more let us join
And raise your sweet voices in chorus with mine
Let us drink and be merry, from sorrow refrain,
For we may and may never meet all here again

The time's fast approaching that I must away
I bid you adieu for many's the long day
With you, my dear comrades, so happy we've been here
But away to Virginia my course I must steer

May Heaven protect us with a prosperous gale
And be our safeguard while we are under sail
Lead us safe to the harbor across the proud wave
We will trust to His mercy Who can sink or can save

Ye hills and low valleys of Donside, farewell
For if ever I return there is none here can tell
Farewell to your lasses of every degree
Long in vain will I wish for your sweet company

Farewell to the jewel, to you I love best
For you and your beauty excels all the rest
But if you prove constant as constant can be
Wherever I go, love, my heart is with thee

Many hearts will be happy, but mine will be sad
When I think on the joys that me and my love had
When I mind on the time that you sat on my knee
There was none in this world more happy than we

Farewell to my joys, they are gone for a while
Cold winter's away and the sweet summer smiles
I have heard an old proverb, found it to he true
That true love is better than gold from Peru.

Come all my dear comrades, let's drink up our glass
Each lad drink a health to his darling sweet lass
Drink a health to each lover whose sweetheart is true
Here's a health, peace, and plenty; so farewell and adieu!

Artist Video Runa @ FolkWorld:
FW#41, #41, #42, #45,
#51, #55, #56, #61, #61

Farewell to Tarwathie

Farewell to Tarwathie
Adieu Mormond Hill
And the dear land of Crimmond
I bid you farewell
I'm bound off for Greenland
And ready to sail
In hopes to find riches
In hunting the whale

Farewell to my comrades
For a while we must part
And likewise the dear lass
Who first won my heart
The cold coast of Greenland
My love will not chill
And the longer my absence
More loving she'll feel

Our ship is well rigged
And she's ready to sail
The crew they are anxious
To follow the whale
Where the icebergs do float
And the stormy winds blow
Where the land and the ocean
Is covered with snow

The cold coast of Greenland
Is barren and bare
No seed time nor harvest
Is ever known there
And the birds here sing sweetly
In mountain and dale
But there's no bird in Greenland
To sing to the whale

There is no habitation
For a man to live there
And the king of that country
Is the fierce Greenland bear
And there'll be no temptation
To tarry long there
With our ship bumper full
We will homeward repair

Farewell to Tarwathie
Adieu Mormond Hill
And the dear land of Crimmond
I bid you farewell
We're bound off for Greenland
And ready to sail
In hopes to find riches
In hunting the whale

 Listen to Farewell to Tarwathie from:
     An Rinn, Runa, Runa live

 Watch Farewell to Tarwathie from:   
  Judy Collins, The Corries, Kevin McKidd, 
  Linde Nijland, Mick O'Grady

The tune is the one to which RUNA sing Farewell to Tarwathie on their Live album.[61] If you have access to Youtube, there is a fine version recorded on a quiet afternoon in the Cobblestone Pub in Dublin there from Mick O'Grady, accompanying himself on a four pound guitar he bought in a junk shop.

In 1969 Ronnie Drew and the Dubliners recorded the related song, Navvy Boots, as a single on the Major Minor label. It had been collected two years earlier from the singing of Eileen Hannoran, an Irish traveller, at Pelsall Common, Staffordshire, by members of the Birmingham and Midland Folk Centre. Its pentatonic tune is a variant of Green Bushes.

Farewell to Tarwathie was written in the 1850's by George Scrogie, a miller from the Scottish townland of Fedderate, New Deer, Aberdeenshire.

Farewell to Tarwathie

Tarwathie is a farm in the lap of Mormond Hill, near the village of Strichen. The writing of his song coincided with the rejuvenation of whaling on the East Coast of Scotland as steam ships had been introduced to allow whalers to sail for longer periods. London had been the biggest whaling port but the second half of the 19th century saw the industry shift north, by the 1850's a third of the British whaling fleet was based at nearby Peterhead, the most easterly point of Aberdeenshire.

George constructed his song on an earlier model, The Donside Emigrant's Farewell, which has come down to us as Farewell To The Company in the singing tradition of Northern Ireland. Cathal McConnell sings it on the CD which is part of the book I Have Travelled This Country, published by Lughnasa Music.[47] The Roud index says: 'This song was sung at a social gathering at Corriehoul, Corgarff, Aberdeenshire, in 1836 by a Mr. Charles Michie, prior to his emigrating to America. His friends long believed it to have been composed by himself, but Mr. Jonathan Gauld, Edinburgh, informs us that he has discovered it is much older than Michie's time, and that he simply altered some of the verses to suit his own case.'

The Donside Emigrant's Farewell

First published @ Irish Music Magazine #255, October 2016 (

Photo Credits: (1) 'Farewell to Tarwathie', (2) 'The Donside Emigrant's Farewell', (3) Runa (unknown/website).

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