The Skye Boat Song

A Scottish waltz and folk song recalling the escape of Charles Edward Stewart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) from Uist to the Isle of Skye after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Stewart escaped in a small boat with the aid of Flora MacDonald disguised as a serving maid. The song is a traditional expression of Jacobitism and its story has also entered Scotland as a national legend.

The lyrics were written by Sir Harold Boulton to an air collected by Annie MacLeod (Lady Wilson) in the 1870s. The song was first published in Songs of the North by Boulton and MacLeod, London, 1884. MacLeod was on a trip to the isle of Skye and was being rowed over Loch Coruisk when the rowers broke into a Gaelic rowing song "Cuachag nan Craobh" ("The Cuckoo in the Grove"). Miss MacLeod set down what she remembered of the air, with the intention of using it later in a book she was to co-author with Boulton, who later added the section with the Jacobite associations.