Gillan the Drover

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X:1 T:Gillan a Drover R:Jig N:”Highland Jig” M:6/8 L:1/8 B: Joseph Lowe - Lowe's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Jigs, B:book 4 (1844–1845, p. 14) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G B|GBd g3|agf g2-e|dBB B2-e|dBB B2-A| GBd g3|agf g2-e|dBA A2-e|dB A2:| |:GBd dBd|ege dBG|dBB B2-e|dBB B2-A| GBe dBd|ege dBG|dBA A2-e|dBA A2:| |:B|GBB gBB|aBB bBB|dBB B2-e|dBB B2-A| GBB gBB|aBB bBB|dBA A2-e|dBA A2:| |:g|bag agf|gfe efg|dBB B2-e|dBB B2-g| bag agf|gfe efg|dBA A2-e|dBA A2:|]



GILLAN THE DROVER ("Giolla na Drover," "Gillun nan Dròbher," "Gillan an Drover"). AKA and see "Cittern Jig," "Drover Lads (The)," "Gillanadrouar," "Gille na Drobhair," "Bodach an dranntan," "Grumbler (The).". Irish, English, Scottish; March (6/8 time) or Highland Jig. England, Northumberland. F Major (O'Neill): G Major (Gunn, Peacock). Standard tuning (fiddle). ABCD (Gunn): AABBCCDD (Kerr): AABB'CCDDEEFFGGHHII (O'Neill, Peacock). The tune with the Englished title (a corruption of the Gaelic "Giolla na Drover" {sometimes "Gillan an Drover"} meaning "The Drover Lads") is claimed by both Irish and Scots. O'Neill styles it an "ancient Irish March," and thought it was (in 1915) "considerably over a century old." O'Neill's dating is confimed by Northumbrian sources for the tune is printed in Peacock's Tunes (c. 1805) and the title appears in Henry Robson's list of popular Northumbrian song and dance tunes, which he published c. 1800. Peacock notes that it should be played at a slow tempo. The tune seems to Bayard (1981) to be related to the marching air "Domhnall na Greine" (Daniel of the Sun (1)), and thus the many related airs in that family. See also the related "Grumbling Rustic (The)"/"Grumbler (The)."

Despite the popular image of long range cattle drives as an American 'wild west' phenomenon, such drives were common in Britain in the 18th century, often originating in Scotland and routing through Carlisle and the west, or by the valleys of North Tyne and Coquet in the east through to Northumberland. There was a great cattle market at Falkirk (called the Falkirk Tryst) in Scotland. Drovers' places of call can be traced by the names of still-existing inns, such as the Cat and Bagpipe in East Harlsey in Yorkshire, the Drovers' Inns at Boroughbridge and Wetherby, Drovers' Rest in Cumberland, Drovers' Call between Gainsborough and Lincoln, and two Highland Laddie's-one in Nottingham and one near Norwich, at St. Faiths (Collinson, 1975). So important was Scottish beef to England that Highland drovers were allowed to keep their arms (for defense of themselves and their herds from the depredations of the notorious Scottish cattle theives) following Culloden and the Disarming Act of 1747.

Beef, however, was not the only Scottish export to head south at the hands of drovers. Many farms in the Highlands had whisky stills, and a field of barley shimmering in the wind surely meant a whisky still was nearby. In 1797 there were some 200 stills in operation in the parish of Glenlivet, and the 4th Duke of Gordon, for one, felt that the making of whiskey was a divine right of his tenants, although he was finally pressured by London to at least tax the trade. Drove routes were used by the inhabitants of Glenlivet to convey the liquor south, and many a sturdy well-laden Highland garron could be seen on the Braes of Livet winding their way up to the water shed of the Ladder hills down through Glen Nochty, Strathdon and on the the lowlands and borders (Moyra Cowie, 1999).


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Breathnach (CRÉ 2), 1976; No. 16 (appears as untitled jig). Campbell (Albyn's Anthology, vol. 1), 1816; No. 12, p. 100. William Gunn (The Caledonian Repository of Music Adapted for the Bagpipes), Glasgow, 1848; pp. 58-59. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 3), No. 272, p. 30. Joseph Lowe (Lowe's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Jigs, book 4), 1844–1845; p. 14. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; p. 176. McGoun's (Repository of Scots and Irish Airs), c. 1800. O'Neill (O'Neill's Irish Music), 1915; No. 104, pp. 58–59. Peacock (Favorite Collection of Tunes with Variations), c.1805; No. 29, p 12.

Recorded sources : - Front Hall FHR-08, Alastair Anderson – "Traditional Tunes" (1976. From the playing of Colin Ross). Green Linnet SIF 1047, John Cunningham – "Fair Warning" (1983).

See also listing at :
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [1]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]



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