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Kilbogie / MacDonald o' the Isles

[ Roud 95 ; G/D 4:851 ; Ballad Index GrD4851 ; trad.]

The Scottish Folksinger Last Leaves of Traditional Ballads and Ballad Airs

Gavin Greig and James Duncan collected Kilbogie, or MacDonald of the Isles, from Robert Chree of Alford, Aberdeenshire (1852-1915). This song was included as number 851 in volume 4 of The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection. Katherine Campbell included this version in 2009 in her book Songs from North-East Scotland and sang it on the accompanying CD.

Ray and Archie Fisher sang Kilbogie on their 1961 Topic EP Far Over the Forth. All tracks of this EP were included in 1965 on the Topic compilation album Bonny Lass Come O'er the Burn. This song was also included in 1995 on the Rhino anthology Troubadours of British Folk Vol. 1. Norman Buchan commented in the original EP's sleeve notes:

The theme of the poor man who casts off his rags to show himself a shining prince is common in folk-lore, and especially in love stories. In Scotland it was given a realistic twist, reflecting the pride-in-poverty of the Highlands and its contempt for the pride of property in the Lowlands. Indeed the historian could read much into the frequency with which Highland Lords in disguise carried off Lowland maids and then confounded the canny commercial instinct for property of bride or father. In Glasgow Peggy (Child 228) to which Kilbogie is closely related, this is made clearest in the verse:

He's ta'en her up to yon high hill,
When that the sun was yet shinin' clearly,
Says: “A' that is yours as far as ye can see
For lyin' doon wi a Hielan' laddie.”

And the same point is made in the coach and six reference in Ray Fisher's version.

Owen Hand sang Kilbogie in 1966 on his Transatlantic album I Loved a Lass. He noted:

This is the sister ballad to Glasgow Peggy, the plot and development being almost identical. I first heard it sung by Ray and Archie Fisher and as a result I sing the abbreviated version I learnt from them.

Jean Redpath sang Kilbogie in 1973 on her Folk-Legacy album Frae My Ain Countrie.

Old Blind Dogs sang Kilbogie on their 1993 album Close to the Bone. Ian Benzie noted:

This song brings to the fore the difference between Highlanders and Lowlanders, it's the difference between sheets and a tartan plaide. I learned it from the version sung by Norman Kennedy on the Aberdeen Folk Club's 35th Anniversary cassette.

Alasdair Roberts sang Kilbogie on his 2023 album Grief in the Kitchen and Mirth in the Hall. He noted:

My version of this song is indebted to two recordings in the School of Scottish Studies sound archive—one by Brian Miller and one by the poet Norman McCaig.

Compare to this the related song Glasgow Peggy (Child 228, G/D 4:850) which even has the same Roud number.


Ray and Archie Fisher sing Kilbogie

First when I cam' tae Kilbogie's toon
Wi' my short coat and my tartan plaidie,
First when I cam' my bonnie love tae see
She stayed in her bed till her breakfast was ready.

When her breakfast it was set doon
She said she had been in the fields wi' her daddy.
But weel I kent by the silk o' her hands'
She stayed in her bed till her breakfast was ready.

When her breakfast it was set doon,
It was set doon and it was made ready,
Oot spake her mother untae her,
“Hae naething tae dae wi' a Hielan' laddie.”

They gaed oot tae ha'e a walk
Tae ha'e a walk till the dinner was ready
He's set her on his high horse back
An she's far, far awa' wi' her Hielan' laddie.

When at last tae the Hielan's they cam'
There was naething there fitting for a lady.
Naething was there for her tae lay on
But a wee puckle heather an' his tartan plaidie.

“In my faither's hoose there's blankets and sheets,
They are white and laid oot ready.
An' right angry my faither wad be
Tae see me lyin' here on yer tartan plaidie.”

“In the Hielan's here there's flocks o' sheep,
They are very thick and bonnie.
It's ye'll get wool an' ye can spin
An mak ye a blanket instead o' a plaidie.”

“A coach and six tae me prepare!”
A coach and six was gotten ready,
A coach and six tae tak' her a' the way.
An' back she's gane tae her hame in Kilbogie.