MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Ged a SheÒl Mi air M'Aineol
(Although I have sailed to Foreign Places)
Catherine Patterson CB 1 Tape 11 Track 2
Benacadie Glen Audio:
Milling Song


Ged a sheòl mi air m'aineol
Cha laigh smalan air m'inntinn
Ged a sheòl mi air m'aineol.

Gur ann toiseachadh a'gheamhraidh
Ghabh mi geall air an ribhinn.

Fuair mi coir air a'bharca
Air a bharc' a bha riobhach.

Fhuair mi coir air a'mhaighdean
Bha stoidhle air dhìth Sìne.

'S ann a Boston a sheòl sinn
'Dol air "voyage" dhan na h-Innsaibh.

Trì oidhche roimh Nollaig
Dh'fhas i mollach 's droch shìd' ann.

Bha uisge agus sneachd' ann
Clach-mheallain bha mìlteach.

B'fheudar dìreadh na rigean
Dh'aindeoin miosachd na sìde.

B'fheudar dìreadh 'sa ròpa
Cha spòrs e ri ìnnse.

Cha robh ròpa ro bhòidheach
Nuair a reoth e, bha trì ann.

Gun robh craiceann mo làmhan
'S bha mo ghàirdeanan mìlte.

Cha robh lighich an làrach
Mu chladaichean creiseadh

Gur ann orm-sa bha'n t-eagal
Bha na breasan a'bìogail.

'S mise dh'èibheadh an eagail
Cape Race bha ruinn sìnte.

Bha ceidh' "pine" air an fhuaradh
A'fuadach bhuainn sìne.

Nuair a bhreis i sin suas i
Gun do dhuar i dhuinn mìltean.

Sin nuair thubhairt an caiptean
Illean gasda na dìoblaidh.

Nuair a ruigeas sibh calla
Bidh ar drama dhuibh cìnnteach.

Uisge beatha gun bhaisteadh
Air a tharruing ro phìoban.

Uisge beatha gun truailleadh
Bho an fhuaras na h-Innsaibh.


Although I have sailed to foreign places
Sadness did not lie on my mind.
Although I have sailed to foreign places.

It was at the beginning of winter
The maid gave me her promise.

I acquired a barque
A truly elegant one.

I got the hand of the maiden
Jane did not want for style.

It was from Boston that we sailed
On a voyage to the Indies .

Three nights before Christmas
It became stormy, the weather was awful.

It was raining and snowing
With hailstones that were destructive.

I had to climb up the rigging
In spite of the stormy weather.

I had to climb up the rope
It is no pleasure to talk about.

The rope was not a pleasant sight
When it froze there were three.

The skin was torn from my hands
And my shoulders pained.

There was no doctor to be found
On those squalid shores.

It was terrifying
To hear the timbers creaking.

I cried out in terror
As Cape Race loomed before us.

The pine quay was our windward side
Forcing us away from land.

When we tied the ropes securely
She grumbled her way ahead for some miles.

And then the captain spoke
My fine lads, do not lose heart.

When you get to the harbour
You will be sure of your dram.

Whiskey that is name-less
And drawn through pipes.

Whiskey clear and unpolluted
But where you got it do not tell.


This sailing song, which is also performed at milling frolics, was composed by Roderick G. Morrison from Loch Lomond, Richmond County, Cape Breton. The adventurous Morrison had left home at an early age for California, during the “Gold Rush.” Finding little success, he returned home where he became postmaster at St. Peter’s. It was there that he was acquainted with the many sailors and vessels that frequented the channel. It was not long before he was building his own ships and became involved in the coastal trade between Cape Breton and Boston. The occasion of this song’s composition is said to be a particularly treacherous journey in which the ship became heavily iced, forcing the crew to seek warmer waters on trade routes in the south, near the Indies. A great deal of time had elapsed before Morrison could return. When he finally reached Cape Breton, he discovered that his wife had died and the rest of the community had long believed him also to have perished at sea.

While melodies of this song found in print vary, the melody of this version is consistent with what is usually sung at milling frolics today. The song is so popular and widely recognized in Cape Breton that parodied, macaronic verses exist and are added in modern-day performance.

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