Sangstories
Stories of Scottish Songs

Tales of Scottish traditional
and newer songs 
sung by Sangschule 
of Linlithgow

Farewell To Fuinary

Lyric by Norman MacLeod (1783 – 1862) Gaelic air

The wind is fair, the day is fine
And swiftly, swiftly runs the time;
The boat is floating on the tide
(Alt: lies waiting on the tide)
That wafts me off from Fuinary. (That carries me from Fuinary)

We must up and haste away,
We must up and haste away,
We must up and haste away,
Farewell, farewell to Fuinary.

A thousand, thousand tender ties
Awake this day my plaintive sighs;
My heart within me almost dies
At thought of leaving Fuinary.

But I must leave those happy vales, (Alt: But I must leave the sound of Mull)
See, see they spread the flapping sails! (Tears prick my eyes, my heart is full)
Adieu, adieu my native dales! (And I know well that it will pull me)
Farewell, farewell to Fuinary. (Home again to Fuinary)


This song was brought to Sangschule by Anne and Scott Murray of Sangsters. They suggested alternatives to some lines, as above, to substitute simpler words for the flowery original language. Scott composed the alternative last verse.
He explained that Norman MacLeod was one of a famous family of ministers from Fuinary, in Morvern, across from Mull, and that he had written the song in English. It was translated into Gaelic by Archibald Sinclair.

“Fuinary” and “Fiunary” both appear in spelling, sometimes in the same song, and so here I quote the entry to Mudcat’s thread on the song by Sir Maxwell MacLeod of Fuinary:
“As to the spelling this (above) is the variation we use as a family and endorsed by the Lord Lyon.”

He goes on to say:” My family tradition is that the song was first penned in English by my forebear Caraid nan Ghael (the friend of the Highlander) as a Sunday after noon task set in a big house somewhere in Kintyre.
“An amusing aside is perhaps that this self same man was recently assumed to have performed a marriage ceremony between Queen Victoria and John Brown. Certainly if she was going to marry Brown it is likely that she would have chosen Norman, but any other assumption would be largely conjecture.
“The core of the sentiment concerns the sad reality that over half of Morvern left the peninsula during the clearances, some through force, others through economic migrancy and of these many would have left from the pier at Fuinary – still standing.
“I am no historian but I am a part-time journalist and perhaps the most pertinent factor is that of the two thousand people who lived in Morvern at that time, mid eighteen sixties, there are now less than a dozen who can claim to be descended from that community, and of those few can find houses in the area.
“My point is that the song is still a call to arms, change must happen in our Highland areas if the few Gaels left are to survive. We live in the last few years of a Culture that has lasted a thousand years. Be moved by Toromod’s song and don’t hide modestly, act.”
(Toromod – Gaelic for Norman)

 “Farewell to Fiunary” (with the other spelling) was printed in Lyra Celtica: an anthology of representative Celtic poetry published in 1896, showing two extra verses and a Gaelic chorus:

With pensive steps I often strolled
Where Fingal’s castle stood of old,
And listened while the shepherd told
The legend tales of Fiunary

Eirigh agus tingainn O!
Eirigh agus tingainn O!
Eirigh agus tingainn O!
Farewell, farewell to Fiunary!

I’ll often pause at close of day
Where Ossian sang his martial lay,
And viewed the sun’s departing ray
Wandering o'er Dun Fiunary

The notes in Lyra Celtica (1896) pin down our writer as being not “The Great Norman” (d.1872), but his father (d.1862.)This Norman MacLeod was known as “the friend of the Gaels”, “Caraid nan Gaidheal” for his efforts to get help for the poor in the Highlands during the Potato Famines. He is also remembered for his promotion of the Gaelic language at a time when it was discredited by "educated" Scots.

 

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