Colonna's lone shore

Denis McGrath
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Colonna's lone shore, song (I will sing the word of young wandering Nellie ...)

Written by Andrew Sharpe during the early 19th century, this song describes the death of a soldier at the Battle of Corunna on 16 January 1809. The focus, however, is on the reaction of the soldier’s sweetheart when word of his death arrives back in Scotland. Song collector Robert Ford writes in Vagabond Songs and Ballads of Scotland

“Andrew Sharpe had observed that, since Herdman’s departure, Ellen Rankine was greatly changed. Her passionate blue eyes had begun to fade, and her luxuriant brown hair, the pride of better days, to get tangled and dry; but when the news of his death came she sank into helpless idiocy, and despite the careful watchings of her distressed parents, she stole from them in a luckless moment, and, taking the back of the hill, went crooning and singing for a whole week away through the Howe of Strathmore” (1904:84).


With thanks to RTÉ Sound Archives for their digitisation of the Kenneth Goldstein/Aidan O'Hara Reels.