The Mingulay Boat Song

Words: Sir Hugh Roberton
Music: traditional arr. the London Sea Shanty Collective

Written by the Scottish composer Sir Hugh Roberton in the 1930s in memory of a lost way of life. The inhabitants of Mingulay in the Outer Hebrides had eked out a precarious subsistence living based mainly on fishing, but the last of a dwindling population abandoned the island in 1912. The song has been revised and added to by the Clancy Brothers, the Corries and others down the years.

Heel yo ho boys, let her go boys,
Bring her head round and all together,
Heel yo ho boys, let her go boys,
Sailing homeward to Mingulay.

What care we though white the Minch is?
What care we for wind or weather?
When we know that every inch is,
Sailing homeward to Mingulay.

When the wind is wild with shouting,
And the waves mount ever higher,
Anxious eyes turn ever seaward,
To see us home safe to Mingulay.

Ships return now heavy laden,
Sweethearts holding bairns a-crying,
They return now as the sun sets,
They return home to Mingulay.

Sweethearts waiting by the pierhead,
Or looking seaward from the heather,
Heave her ’round boys and we’ll anchor,
Ere the sun sets on Mingulay.