From the recording One For the Road
Traditional, adaptation © Mark Clavey
Mark Clavey: vocals, guitar
Mary Hanover: vocals, hammered dulcimer
Rachel Bowerman: lead vocals
Tara McCullough: fiddle
"Bonnie House of Airlie" is, at once, our other look back on our first recording, "Timber and Stream", and one of the four pieces Lloyd requested we include in this collection. Performing in pubs dictates a certain amount of adjustment to our set-lists. Many of the more-polished arrangements that we'd ordinarily play in concerts… well, quite frankly, they'd bore a pub-crowd to tears. However, here's a song that, while classy, has that gritty, gutsy vibe that makes it a favorite in the pubs. It tells the story of James, 8th Lord Ogilvy and Earl of Airlie, whose clan adhered loyally to the Stuart cause. They were set upon by thousands of Campbells under the command of the Earl of Argyll, and the devastation of Ogilvy lands was so great that Airlie was "left not in all his lands a cock to craw day". Airlie took his revenge, burning Argyll's great fortress at Dollar and laying waste to all Argyllshire by fire and sword. He was excommunicated for this breach of etiquette, but was later pardoned. Contrary to the song, Lady Ogilvy died, in her bed, at the ripe old age of 86. The tune that follows the song is "We Prefer Our Own King", a Jacobite-era tune, in both Scotland and Ireland, whose national origin is unknown. Captain Simon Fraser claimed it had been known as "one of the incentives of rebellion" among the Scots Highlanders "since the 1745".
It happened on a day, on a bonnie summer's day, when the sun shone bright and clearly, that there fell out a great dispute between Argyll and Airlie. Argyll, he has mustered a thousand of his men, he's marched them out right early. He's marched them in by the back of Dunkeld to plunder the bonnie house of Airlie.
Lady Ogilvy looked out from her window so high, and oh but she wept sorely to see Argyll and all of his men come to plunder the bonnie house of Airlie. "Come down, come down Lady Ogilvy" he cried. "Come down and kiss me dearly. Or I swear, by the hilt of my good broadsword, I won't leave a standing stone on Airlie."
"Come tell me where your dowry is hid. Come down and tell me fairly." "I will not tell you where my dowry is hid though you shouldn't leave a standing stone on Airlie." They sought it up and they sought it down (I wat they sought it fairly), and it was below yon bowling green that they found the dowry of Airlie.
"Eleven bairns I have born, and the twelfth never saw his daddy. But though I had gotten as many again they should all go and fight for Charlie. If my good lord had been at home, as he's away for Charlie, There'd dare not a Campbell or an Argyll set foot in the bonnie house of Airlie."
He's taken her by the milk-white hand, but he did not lead her fairly. He's led her up to the top of the hill where she saw the burning of Airlie. The smoke and the flames - they rose so high, the walls were blackened fairly. And the lady laid her down on the green to die when she saw the burning of Airlie.