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The Fisherman’s Lassie

[ Roud - ; trad.]

Isla St Clair sang The Fisherman’s Lassie in 1972 on her Tangent album Isla St Clair Sings Traditional Scottish Songs and in 1995 in her BBC Radio 2 series and on the accompanying album Tatties & Herrin’: The Sea. She sang it as The Fisherman’s Wife in 1981 in the BBC television series and on the accompanying album The Song and the Story. Hamish Henderson commented in the first album’s sleeve notes:

Learned from her mother, who learned it from her mother-in-law Madge Macdonald (“Grannie Madge”). Grannie, who died three years ago, told Isla that she used to sing it on the quay at Stornoway while waiting for the boats to come in.

The Johnson Girls sang Fisherman’s Lassie on their Folk-Legacy album Sea Chanteys and Maritime Music. They commented in their sleeve notes:

Fishing communities on the coasts of the British Isles endured great hardships and reaped great rewards. Long periods of waiting required patience by the fishermen and their families on both land and sea. Isla St Clair’s grandmother, Madge MacDonald, from the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides sang this one while standing on the quay at Stornoway waiting for the fishing boats to return home.


Isla St Clair sings The Fisherman’s Lassie

Chorus (after each verse):
I’m a ramblin’ tamblin’ fol the do me day,
I’m a ramblin’ tamblin’ lassie.
I’m a ramblin’ tamblin’ fol the do me day
And they call me the fisherman’s lassie.

Well the fisherman he’s a bold young man,
You will never find anyone bolder.
He wears his sea boots over his knees
And his straps across his shoulder.

I will dress myself in my sunday best,
I make myself look bonnie.
Then I will hie me to the key
To greet my fair young Johnny.