Rob Donn Mackay the Poet
X:1 T:Rob Donn Mackay the Poet T:Rob Donn M:C L:1/8 R:Air S:Simon Fraser Collection (1816) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:F F2 ED F2 DC | A2 A^G A2 z2 | AdcB AcBc | A2 G2 F2 z2 | (F2 F)G A2 Ac |AGFG A3G | F3E D/E/F/G/ A>G | F2 E2 F4 || ^C2 D2 A,4 | A2 c>d f2d2 |dcAG F2 AG | F2 E2 F4 | ^C2 D2 A,4 | A2 c2 f3d | cBAG F2 AG | F2 E2 D4 ||
ROBB DONN MACKAY THE POET. AKA - "Rob Donn." Scottish, Air (4/4 time). D Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. This tune "is avowedly Robert Donn's, the words passionately describing disappointed love, and jealousy at the success of his competitor. The three first notes of the second measure, imitating a sneering laugh at his own folly, for trusting so much to the faith of womankind, it a preferable match offers" (Fraser). Fraser references Robert Mackay, AKA Robert Donn (1714-1778), born in Strathmore, who was a cattle drover before joining the regiment raised by the Earl of Sutherland in 1759. He remained a soldier for four years, until the unit disbanded in 1763, whereupon he returned to Balnakeil House. "Rob Donn was not an English speaker but did occasionally use English words to spice up his poems, which some enjoyed as evidence of his cleverness and ability as a poet".
He died in 1778 and was buried at Durness. The poet never learned to read, but his songs and poems were taken down by Rev. iEneas Macleod, minister of Rogart, and by a daughter of the Dumess minister, Rev. John Thomson. They became widespread in Gaelic oral tradition and were finally collected and published in 1829 by Rev. Dr. Macintosh Mackay.
- Mary Ann Alburger, "Making the Fiddle Sing: Captain Simon Fraser of Knockie and his Airs and Melodies Peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles ", PhD thesis, University of Aberdeen, March 2001, p. 12.