Griogal Cridhe (Beloved Gregor)



Òbhan, òbhan, òbhan i ri

Òbhan i ri ò

Òbhan, òbhan, òbhan i ri

'S mòr, mo mhulad, 's mòr.

(It is great, my sorrow, great)


Verse 1:

'S iomadh oidhche fhliuch is thioram,

(Many a night, wet or dry)

Sìde nan seachd sian,

(weather of the seven elements)

Gheibheadh Griogal dhomhsa creagan

(Gregor would get me a rocky shelter)

Ris an gabhainn dìon.

(Against the storm)


Verse 2:

Eudail mhòir, a shluagh an Domhain,

(Greatest treasure in all the world)

Dhòirt iad t'fhuil o'n dè,

(They spilt your blood yesterday)

'S chuir iad do cheann air stob daraich

(And they put your head on a post of oak)

Tacan beag bho d'chrè.

(A little way from your body)


Verse 3:

B' annsa bhi le Griogal cridhe

(Would that I were with beloved Gregor)

Teàrnadh chruidh le gleann,

(Herding cattle in the glen)

Na le Baran mòr na Dalach,

(Than with the great Baron of the Dale)

Sìoda geal mu m' cheann.

(White silk around my head)


Verse 4:

Chan eil ùbhlan idir agam,

(I have no apples at all)

'S  ùbhlan uil' aig càch,

(Others have all the apples)

'S ann tha m'ùbhlan-s' cùbhr' ri caineal

(My apple with the fragrance of cinnamon)

'S cùl a chinn ri làr.

(The back of his head to the ground)


Verse 5:

'Nuair a bhios mnàthan òg a'bhaile,

(When the young women of the village will be)

'Nochd nan cadal sèimh,

(Tonight sleeping soundly)

'S ann bhios mis' air bruaich do lice,

(I will be at your graveside)

'Bualadh mo dhà làimh.

(Beating my two hands)


This song relates to the historic event of 1570, when Gregor Roy MacGregor was beheaded by Campbell of Glenlyon and Campbell's son.  The song is from the perpective of MacGregor's widow, who was the daughter of Cambell of Glenlyon and watched the beheading with her infant.  In common with many songs from Gaelic tradition, it is constructed in the form of a stream of conciousness, giving the listener a snapshot of the thoughts and feelings of the widow, singing to her child the day after the execution.

There are other versions of the song and additional verses, such as given in "Songs of Gaelic Scotland" by Anne Lorne Gilles, which has the alternative refrain:

Bà bà bà mo leanabh

(Ba ba ba, my baby)

Bà mo leanabh bà

(Ba, my baby, ba)

Bà hù hò mo leanabh

(Ba, ba, ba, my baby)

Chan eil thu ach bà

(You are only ba)


The version I have included here is a well-known one and is as sung by Margaret Bennett, under the other title by which the song is known, "The Glenlyon Lament" on Martyn Bennett's album, "Glen Lyon Song Cycle".


Margaret wrote of the song:

This Perthshire song dates to the mid-1500. A family favourite taught to me by my mother, it was also a favourite of Hamish Henderson’s (my former colleague and very dear friend). Hamish’s roots are in Perthshire, and over the years I sang it for him many times, almost always at his request—at festivals, ceilidhs, and celebrations such as his 70th, 75th and 80th birthdays, and Martyn was at a good few. When Hamish died on March 8, 2002, his family asked me to sing at his funeral in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, on March 15. There was really only one song I could sing for Hamish—his beloved ‘Glen Lyon Lament’.

Extract from "It's Not the Time You Have..."by Margaret Bennett, Grace Note Publications ISBN 978-0-9552326-1-9


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