Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Mairi's Wedding

Scottish Poem By John Bannerman

Mairi's Wedding (also known as Marie's Wedding, the Lewis Bridal Song, or Mairi Bhan) is a Scottish folk song originally written in Gaelic by John Roderick Bannerman (1865-1938) for Mary C. MacNiven (1905-1997) on the occasion of her winning the gold medal at the National Mòd (the main festival of Scottish Gaelic literature, song, arts and culture) in 1934.

J.R. Bannerman, who composed the original song, was born in South Uist but left aged seven for Glasgow. He was brought up in the Glasgow Gaelic community where most social activities were conducted in Gaelic and he developed a lifelong interest in the songs and literature of that culture.

Sir Hugh Stevenson Roberton (who had collaborated with John R. Bannerman on other songs) wrote the English words for "Mairi's Wedding", which bore little resemblance to Bannerman's original and make no reference to the original inspiration for the song, the winning of a Mòd gold medal.

H.S. Roberton published this in 1936, giving the song the alternative title of "The Lewis Bridal Song" and presented an original signed copy of his score to Mary C. MacNiven which became one of her most prized possessions.

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Mairi's Wedding By Bannerman, Gaelic Version, With Translation By Anne Lorne Gillies

Gaelic VersionTranslation
Gaol mo chridhe-sa Màiri Bhàn,Love of my heart, fair-haired Mary,
Màiri bhòidheach, sgeul mo dhàin,pretty Mary, theme of my song:
'S i mo ghaol-sa Màiri bhàn,she's my darling, fair-haired Mary
'S tha mi dol ga pòsadh.and oh! I'm going to marry her.

Thuit mi ann an gaol a-raoir,Last night I fell in love
Tha mo chridh-sa shuas air beinn;and now my heart is soaring high;
Màiri Bhàn rim thaobh a' seinn,fair-haired Mary singing by my side
'S tha mi dol ga pòsadh.and oh! I'm going to marry her!

Cuailean òir is sùilean tlàth,Golden hair and kindly eyes,
Mala chaol is gruaidh an àigh,shapely brow and smiling cheeks,
Beul as binne sheinneas dàn,sweetest voice that ever sang
'S tha mi dol ga pòsadh.and oh! I'm going to marry her.

'S ann aig cèilidh aig a' MhòdIt was at a cèilidh at the Mòd
Fhuair mi eòlas air an òigh;that I got to know the girl:
'S ise choisinn am bonn òir,she was the winner of the gold medal
'S tha mi dol ga pòsadh.and oh! I'm going to marry her.

Bidh mo ghaol do Mhàiri BhànMy love for Fair-haired Mary will be
Dìleas, dùrachdach gu bràth;eternally faithful and heartfelt;
Seinnidh sinn da chèil' ar gràdh,we'll sing together of our love
'S tha mi dol ga pòsadh.and oh! I'm going to marry her.

Mairi's Wedding By Sir Hugh Roberton, Begining With The Chorus

Step we gaily, on we go,
Heel for heel and toe for toe,
Arm and arm and row on row,
All for Mairi's wedding.

Over hill-ways up and down,
Myrtle green and bracken brown,
Past the shielings, through the town;
All for sake o' Mairi.

Red her cheeks as rowans are,
Bright her eye as any star,
Fairest o' them a' by far,
Is our darling Mairi.

Plenty herring, plenty meal,
Plenty peat to fill her creel,
Plenty bonnie bairns as weel;
That's the toast for Mairi.

Mairi's Wedding Song Video

Mairi's Wedding Song - Information Video

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Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original Mairi's Wedding article on Wikipedia.
Text from this original Anne Lorne Gillies article on Wikipedia.

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