> Folk Music > Songs > Nancy Whisky / The Calton Weaver / Long Cookstown

Nancy Whisky / The Calton Weaver / Long Cookstown

[ Roud 883 ; G/D 3:603 ; Henry H745 ; Ballad Index K279 ; Bodleian Roud 883 ; trad.]

Wille Mitchell of Campbeltown, Argyllshire sang Nancy's Whisky in December 1956 to Hamish Henderson. This recording was included in 2006 on the Kyloe CD Hamish Henderson Collects Volume 2.

Ewan MacColl sang The Calton Weaver in 1958 on his Topic album of industrial ballads, Second Shift. This recording was also included in 1964 on his Topic album Steam Whistle Ballads and in 2003 on his anthology The Definitive Collection. The album's liner notes commented:

The village of Calton no longer exists, having been swallowed up by the City of Glasgow more than half a century ago. Of its once thriving weaving trade, nothing remains but this wry little song. Ewan MacColl learned this version from Hughie Martin of Shettleston, Glasgow, who insisted that MacColl's father had written the tune “because he didna tak' to the ither yin”.

Jimmy MacGregor sang Nancy Whiskey in a recording made by Peter Kennedy at Cecil Sharp House that was published in 1960 on the HMV anthology A Jug of Punch.

The Clancy Brothers with Louis Killen sang Nancy Whiskey live at the Bushnell Auditorium in Hartford, Connecticut on March 17, 1972. This concert was published in the following year on their album Live on St. Patrick's Day.

Scotch Measure sang The Calton Weaver in 1985 on their eponymous Topic album Scotch Measure.

Davy Steele sang Calton Weaver on his 1996 CD Chasing Shadows.

Norman Kennedy sang Nancy Whisky at one of two live concerts in Aberdeen in 1996 that were published on 2002 on his Tradition Bearers CD Live in Scotland.

Ellen Mitchell sang The Calton Weaver on her and Kevin Mitchell's 2001 Musical Traditions anthology Have a Drop Mair. Ellen Mitchell and Rod Stradling commented in the accompanying booklet:

Ellen: I learned [this] by osmosis in my growing up. Calton is now a district of Glasgow, whereas at the time of the song it was a village (full of weavers I believe!).

More widely known as Nancy Whisky, this song was printed by both Pitts and Jennings (London) and has been found in the oral tradition throughout these islands, though most frequently in Scotland; Greig-Duncan has 12 examples—but there seem to have been no sound recordings made of the song. It was, perhaps, unexpectedly popular in Bampton, Oxfordshire, where both Shepherd Haden and Jinky Wells sang it, half a century apart.

Battlefield Band sang Nancy's Whisky in 2002 on their CD Time & Tide.

Steve Black sang Nancy's Whisky, “[a] Kintyre song that Steve learned from Willie Scott who picked it up from Willie Mitchell of Campbeltown during the 1968 Blairgowrie Festival”, at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife in May 2007. This recording was published in the following year on the festival anthology Nick-Knack on the Waa (Old Songs & Bothy Ballads Volume 4).

Mark Dunlop sang Long Cookstown in 2015 on Malinky's CD Far Better Days. Their liner notes commented:

This Irish version of the Nancy Whisk(e)y tale is also taken from Sam Henry's Songs of the People. It was published on March 5, 1938 and was submitted by Paddy McGuckin of Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. Until the 1960s, Cookstown was of considerable importance in the Irish linen industry. It is referred to as ‘Long’ Cookstown at it has what is reputed to be the longest Main Street in Ireland. The song also features in the repertoire of Joe Holmes from Mark [Dunlop]'s birthplace of Ballymoney in County Antrim.

Lyrics

Ellen Mitchell sings The Calton Weaver Steve Black sings Nancy's Whisky

I am a weaver, a Calton weaver,
I am rash and a rovin blade
I've got siller in ma pooches,
I'll go follae the rovin trade.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Whisky, whisky, Nancy Whisky
Whisky, whisky, Nancy oh

I'm a weaver that follows weaving,
I'm a young and rovin blade;
To buy meself a new suit of clothing,
To Stewarton me way I made.

As I gaed in tae Glesga city
Nancy Whisky I chanced tae smell
I gaed in, sat doon beside her.
Seven long years I looed her well.

And as I come round by Stewarton corner,
Nancy's Whisky I chanced to spy;
Thinks I tae meself, I'll go in and taste her,
For 'tis seven long years now I've been dry.

The mair I kissed her, the mair I looed her.
The mair I looed her, the mair she smiled.
I soon forgot ma mither's teachin,
For Nancy soon had me beguiled.

Oh the more I tasted, the more I liked it,
The more I liked it, I tasted more;
Yes, the more I tasted, the more I liked it,
Till all my senses were gone ashore.

I woke up airly in the mornin,
Tae slake ma drooth it was ma need.
I tried tae rise, but I wisna able,
For Nancy hid me by the heed.

When I woke up the next morning,
I found meself in a stranger's bed;
I tried to rise but I was not able,
For Nancy's whisky held down my head.

“Come awa, landlady, whit's the lawin,
Tell me whit there is tae piy.”
“Seven shillins is the reck'nin,
Pay me quickly and go away.”

I called for the landlady,
And I asked her what the reckoning be,
"The reckoning be full thirty shillings,
Come pay me quickly, be on your way."

I put me hand into ma pocket,
And all I had, I laid it doon;
And when I'd paid my thirty shillings,
All I'd left was a poor half-croon.

As I gaed oot by Glesga city
Nancy Whisky I chanced tae smell.
I gaed in, spent three and sixpence,
A I had left wis a crooked scale.

And as I went oot and around the corner,
A bonnie lassie I chanced to spy;
And on her I paid my two white shillings,
Till all was left, a crooked boy.

But I'll gang back tae the Calton weavin,
I'll fairly mak the shuttles fly.
And I'll earn mair at the Calton weavin
Than ever I did in a rovin way.

So I'll go back and I'll start ma weaving,
And ma shuttle, I'll mak fly;
And curses be on Nancy's whisky,
For Nancy's whisky has ruined I.

Long Cookstown in Songs of the People Malinky sing Long Cookstown

It's three long quarters I spent a-weaving,
And for my wages I was paid down,
And to buy a suit of new clothing,
I made my way in to long Cookstown.

For three long quarters I was a-weaving,
And for my wages I was paid down,
And for to buy a new suit of clothing
I made my way into long Cookstown.

As I was going up through long Cookstown,
Nancy Whiskey I chanced to smell;
Says I to myself, “I'll go in and taste you,
For three long quarters I loved you well.”

And when I got to long Cookstown,
Nancy Whiskey I chanced to smell;
Says I to myself, “I'll go and taste you,
For three long quarters I loved you well.”

I stepped in to an ale tavern,
I begged pardon for making free,
But Nancy met me in every corner,
“You're heartily welcome, young man,” says she.

I stepped in to an ale tavern
And I begged pardon for making free,
But Nancy met me at every corner,
“You're heart'ly welcome, young man,” says she.

When I awoke all in the morning,
I found myself in a strange bed,
I strove to rise but I was not able,
Nancy Whiskey run through my head.

When I awoke the next morning,
I found myself in a strange bed,
I tried to rise, but I wasn't able
For Nancy Whiskey held me by the head.

Then I called on the landlady,
To see what reckoning I had to pay;
There was fifteen shillings for ale and brandy,
And after that, “You may go or stay.”

So I went down to the landlady,
To see what reckoning there was to pay;
“It's fifteen shillings for ale and brandy,
And after that you may go or stay.”

I put my hand into my pocket,
That was the money I did pay down;
On looking back into my small purse,
All that remained was one bare half-crown.

I put my hand to my pocket,
That was the money I did lay down;
On looking back into my small purse,
All that remained was a bare half-crown.

I put my head out of a window,
A smiling damsel I chanced to spy;
With her I spent my two and two pence,
Then all remained was the fourpenny boy.

I put my head out of a window,
A charming damsel I chanced to spy;
With her I spent my two and tuppence,
Till all remained was the fourp'nny boy.

So I'll go home and I'll join my weaving,
My little shuttle I'll steer awhile,
And I will earn more pocket money,
For Nancy Whiskey did me beguile.

So I'll go back all to my weaving,
My little shuttle I will work a while,
And I will earn some more pocket money,
For Nancy Whiskey did me beguile.