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Piper MacNeil

[ Roud 5125 ; Ballad Index RcPipMON ; trad.]

Willie Scott [1897-1989] sang Piper MacNeil on 3 November 1967 in Bill Leader’s home in Camden Town, London. This recording was released in the following year on Scott’s Topic album The Shepherd’s Song, and it was also included in 1998 on the Topic anthology of the joys and curse of drink, They Ordered Their Pints of Beer and Bottles of Sherry (The Voice of the People Volume 13). Maurice Lindsay noted on Scott’s album:

Willie got this song from another shepherd was was also a piper and fiddler, and who worked at Eskdalemuir, Dumfiresshire, around 1910. The piper was “a canty chap and a couthy chiel”, who “dearly lo’ed the whisky O!” Not even the remonstrances of his mother could persuade him to give up his dram. For in every situation he faced, his consolatory refrain was:

The whisky’s guid an’ the whisky’s grand,
A wee drappie o’t ’ll dae nae hairm,
I only wish I’d in my airms
A great big barrel o’ Hieland whisky O!

The melody [belongs] to that sizeable Scots-Irish tune family of which The Garden Where the Pirates Grow and Ten Green Bottles are, perhaps, the best known members.

Willie Scott also sang The Whisky’s Guid in a 1974 recording that was included in 2002 on the Borders Tradition CD Borders Sangsters.

Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise sang Hieland Whisky in 1976 on their eponymous Autogram album Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise.


Willie Scott sings Piper MacNeil

Ye’ll aa hae heard o Piper MacNeil
A canty chap and a coothie chiel,
And aa my days A loed hime weel
For he dearly loed the whisky o.

Chorus (after each verse):
The whisky’s guid an’ the whisky’s grand,
A wee drappie o’t ’ll dae nae harm,
A only wish A’d in my airms
A great big barrel o’ Hielan whisky o.

When A cam staggerin hame yin nicht
As fu as ony man could be,
A struck a post and doon A fell,
Juist wi a wee drap whisky o.

When A cam staggerin tae the door
Me mither rase an she slipped the bar;
But when she saw ma claes aa glar
She said, “Curse tae the Hielan whisky o!”

“Noo mither ye neednae angry be,
Nor in a passion ye neednae flee;
For aye until the day A dee
A’ll aye tak a wee drap whisky o.”


I copied the lyrics from Alison McMorland’s Willie Scott book Herd Laddie o’ the Glen.