> Silly Sisters > Songs > Silver Whistle

Silver Whistle

[ Roud - ; Ballad Index K009 ; Mudcat 20712 ; trad. arr. Prior / Tabor; Johnny Moynihan]

Kate Buchanan and chorus sang An Fhìdeag Airgid (The Silver Whistle) on the anthology Waulking Songs from Barra (Scottish Tradition 3; Tangent 1973; Greentrax 1994).

Flora MacNeil of Barra sang An Fhideag Airgid (The Silver Whistle) on her 1976 Tangent album of traditional Gaelic songs from the Western Scottish Isles, Craobh nan Ubhal. This was also printed it Peter Kennedy, Folksongs of Britain and Ireland, Cassell, 1975. Morag MacLeod and John MacInnes noted on the album:

An Fhideag Airgid (The Silver Whistle) is very obviously a Jacobite song, composed presumably just before or just after Charles Edward Stuart, Bonnie Prince Charlie, had landed from the French frigate “Doutelle” at Coilleag a' Phrionnsa (The Prince’s Strand) on Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides on 18 July 1745. (Some variants have “The son of my king has come…”, others “The son of my king is coming…”)

An Fhideag Airgid is a dynamic song which expresses the optimism associated with the Jacobite Risings. It would appear that the Gaels of Scotland regarded these campaigns as the fulfilment of an ancient prophecy that they would regain their rightful place in Scotland.

(See Celtic Review Vol. 1 p.147 for a version of the text, and Vol. II p.201 for a fairly close variant of Flora MacNeil's tune.)

June Tabor and Maddy Prior sang Silver Whistle “a Jacobite song from Flora MacNeil of Barra, substantially reduced,” on their 1976 album Silly Sisters. It starts unaccompanied but adds Danny Thompson's double bass from the second verse on, and is followed by a tune from Johnny Moynihan.

Sileas sang An Fhìdeag Airgid (The Silver Whistle) on their 1987 album Beating Harps.

Bill Jones sang Silver Whistle with her own words on her 2001 album Panchpuran.

Lyrics

Flora MacNeil sings An Fhìdeag Airgid

Co shinneas an fhìdeag airgid?
O who will play the silver whistle?

Chorus (after each verse):
Ho ro hu a hu ill eo
Hi ri liu hill eo
Hi ri liu hill eo

Mac mo Rìgh-sa dol gu fairge
My king's son to sea is going

Deanamh deas gu tighinn a dh'Alba
To Scotland he prepares his coming

Air long mhór air bhàrr na fairge
Upon a large ship o'er the ocean

Air long mhór nan trì chrann airgid
The ship that has three masts of silver

Sreangannan dha'n t-sìoda Fhrangach
With ropes so light of French silk woven

Ulagan óir air gach ceann dhiubh
Upon each end are golden pulleys

Nuair thig mac mo Rìgh gu fearann
When my king's son ashore has landed

A'cur fàilt' air Mac'ic Ailein
He will welcome the son of Alan

'S air Mac Dhomhnaill Mhor na Ceapaich
Big MacDonald come from Keppoch

'S air Mac Dhomhnaill Dhuibh Loch Abar
Dark MacDonald from Lochabar

Nuair thig mac mo Rìgh-sa dhachaidh
When my king's son comes back home

Cha b'e biadh dha breachdan teine
No girdle scones will food be for him

Ach bacastair gu deanamh arain
But loaves of bread a cook be baking

Teàrlach óg nan gorm shùil meallach
Young Charles with eyes so blue enticing

Fàilte, fàilte, muirn is clià dhut
Welcome to you, your fame and honour

Fìdhleireachd is rogha ciuil dhut
Fiddles and choice tunes attend you

Co shinneas an fhìdeag airgid?
O who will play the silver whistle?

Co chanadh nach seinninn fhìn i?
Who'll say I'd not myself be playing?

June Tabor and Maddy Prior sing Silver Whistle

O who will play the silver whistle
When my king's son to sea is going?
To Scotland prepares, prepares his coming
Upon a large ship o'er the ocean

The ship it has three masts of silver
With ropes so light of french silk woven
Upon each end are fixed golden pulleys
To bring my king's son ashore and landed.

When my king's son he comes back home
No girdle scones will food be for him
But loaves of bread, bread will be baking
For Charles with blue eyes so enticing.

O welcome to you, fame and honour
Fiddles and choice tunes attend you
I will be dancing, I will be singing
And I will play the silver whistle.

And I will play the silver whistle.