Crodh laoigh nam bodach

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CRODH LAOIGH NAM BODACH ("The Old Man's Calf" or "The old man's calving cows"). AKA and see "Plundering the Lowlands." Scottish, Air (3/4 time). D Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Martin): AB (Heymann). The air is found in a music manuscript of the early 19th century by the Maclean-Clephane sisters at Torloisk on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. It was taken from the "playing of {Echlin?} O'Kain by Mr. {Patrick} Macdonald." Heymann (1988) states that the traveling Irish harper Echlin O'Cathain was known to have spent time in Scotland. O'Cathain was born in 1729 and became a student of Cornelius Lyons, a famous harper. Besides Denis Hempson, he was the only surviving harper by the end of the 18th century to cultivate long fingernails in the ancient manner. Captain Simon Fraser prints a version of the melody in his Airs and Melodies (1815), and noted that the tune may have come from just south of Loch Ness, and was said to have commemorated a Highland cattle raid into the Lowlands.

"Crodh laoigh nam bodach" is also the name of a port-à-beul song in which a girl sings of the calving cattle that are being taken to the glen without grass or hay. It begins:

Crodh-laoigh nam bodach
Crodh-laoigh nam bodach
Crodh-laoigh nam bodach
Gan togail ri gleann

Translation:
The old man's calving cows
The old man's calving cows
The old man's calving cows
Being reared in the glen

The song is printed in Alexander MacKenzie's The Celtic Magazine, (vol. 12, "Snatches of Song Collected in Badenoch", 1887, pp. 295-296) and is given as one of the crofter's songs employed at Beltane, when the sheep, cattle and goats would be driven to the upland shealings, and was "well known throughout the shires of Perth and Inverness." While the title is often translated as bodach = 'old man's', the author explains:

For the sake of some readers it may be necessary to explain that the term 'bodach' here employed is not equivalent to "carle" or "old man." Nor does it imply any degree of contempt entertained for the persons so addressed. 'Bodaich' is the familiar designation of a crofting community.


Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Heymann (Secrets of the Gaelic Harp), 1988; p. 91. Martin (Traditional Scottish Fiddling), 2002; p. 64.

Recorded sources:

See also listing at:
Hear the song at Tobar an Dualchais [1] [2]




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