The bonny hills of Scotland

Eta Nash
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The bonny hills of Scotland, song (On the bonny hills of Scotland where bluebells they do grow … )

Known as “The Paisley officer,” “India’s burning sands,” “The new recruit,” and “Bonny Scottish Mary,” among other titles, this song tells the story of a woman disguising herself so that she can go away to war with her true love. It ends with her death on the battle field. 

In Shamrock, Rose and Thistle, Hugh Shields notes that the song is common in Canada and the northeastern United States. He speculates on the song’s Ulster origins, noting that the fullest references to the text are found in northern regions of Ireland (1981:97). 


Curator's note: The conversation at beginning of the track has been edited; after introducing the song and where she learned it, Aidan and Dermot Roche discuss the identity of Mr. Dalton. This section, as well as the noises associated with setting up the microphone, have been excised.