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The Hash o Bennagoak

[ Roud 1527 ; Ballad Index McCST106 ; George Smith Morris]

Travellers' Songs from England and Scotland

Davie Stewart sang The Hash o' Bennagoak to Alan Lomax in his London apartment in 1957. This recording was included in 2002 on Stewart's album in the Alan Lomax Collection on Rounder Records, Go On, Sing Another Song.

Willie McKenzie sang The Hash o' Benagoak at the Kinross Festival in September 1975. This recording was included in the following year on the Springthyme anthology Scots Songs and Music Live from the Kinross Festival 2.

Cilla Fisher sang Hash o' Benagoak in 1976 on her and Artie Trezise's Leader album Balcanquhal.

Charlie Allan sang Hash o' Bennagoak in 1980 on his album It's Lonely in the Bothy.

Jock Duncan sang Hash o Benagoak on his 1996 Springthyme album Ye Shine Whar Ye Stan!. The album's booklet noted:

A George Morris composition. This song is typical of the later bothy ballads or ‘cornkisters’ of the early 20th century. Jock first heard the song on a ‘78’ sung by George Morris when it was issued around 1932 when Jock’s family got a loan of a gramophone from a neighbour.

A ‘hash’ is a large farm. But the Hash o Benagoak was a mythical fairm toun conjured up by Geordie, inspired no doubt by the Hill of Belnagoak not far away.

Jock: Geordie had a hotel in Oldmeldrum and he and his brother in law, Willie Kemp, both wrote songs and competed tae write the best eens. Although Geordie wis niver fee’d—he wis niver in ferm work—he succeeded in getting the atmosphere o the ferm touns just right.

Foggyloan is the local name for the town of Aberchirder. Since Aberchirder lies some 10 miles from the sea, the town has no herring boats and no pier (last verse). So the author of the song intended to remain unknown,

Eric Simpson once of Rosehearty, retired to Mosstodloch in Moray, sang The Hash o' Bennagoak on the 2000 Sleepytown anthology The Bothy Songs and Ballads of North East Scotland Vol. 2.

Hector Riddell of Finzean, Aberdeenshire, sang The Hash o Bennagoak in 2019 on Malinky's 20th anniversary album Handsel. They noted:

Written by George Smith Morris (1876-1958), composer of many popular 20th-century stage bothy ballads known as ‘cornkisters’, and recorded by him in August 1931 for the Beltona label. These are usually more humorous and satirical than traditional bothy ballads composed in the mid-19th century. A ‘hash’ can mean a crowd and in this sense refers to the numbers of pairs of hands employed on a large farm. While it has been suggested that Bennagoak is somewhat fictionalised, the Ordnance Survey name books of 1865-1871 note that Belnagoak, near Methlick in Aberdeenshire, “Applied to a large superior farm with commodious offices attached. The property of the Right Honourable the Earl of Aberdeen”, so there is every chance Morris was satirising this grand establishment. Note, this is a comic song—there is no pier at Foggieloan (the local name for Aberchirder), it being some nine miles inland!

Lyrics

Jock Duncan sings Hash o Benagoak

Oh sax month come Martinmas I feeʼd in Turra Toun,
They said I wis the smairtest chiel in aa the country roun.

Chorus (after each verse):
Wi a ring dum day, a ring dum a day,
Ring dum diddle come a dandy O.

Auld Willie feeʼd me, Robbie never spoke,
Tae come an caw the second pair at the Hash o Benagoak.

The foremanʼs like a constable he niver faas asleep,
Itʼs up an doun the lang rigs he niver slacks a theat.

The second billie, thatʼs masel, I caw a pair o brouns,
Ragnails on the foremanʼs heels, I fairly keep ma rouns.

The third he comes fae Foggieloan and heʼs a pinted chiel,
His horse and his harness are aye lookin weel.

We hae a gallant kitchie lass, her name is Bessy Broon,
But, fegs, ʼtwould take a saidle girth her middle tae ging roun.

Sharnie Taes, the bailie, faith, heʼs a sturdy chiel,
An roun about the kittlie neuks he gars the barra reel.

Syne we hiv an orraman an (he) seldom caws the ploo,
Thereʼs aye plenty orra work and files some neeps tae pu.

Robbie has a sister and sheʼs perjink and neat,
But faith she keeps the kitchie billies unco scant o meat.

Willie rises in the mornin an gies the door a crash,
An oot aneath his pickie-say, “I think weʼll hae a thrash.”

Then he has a brither and heʼs wrang amon the feet,
Tae see him knypin roun the close twould nearly gar ye greet.

Come aa ye jolly horsemen, yeʼll gyang tae the ploo,
The orra lad tae caw the neeps and Sharnie fill and pu.

The author o this canty lay if ye wint it tae be known,
Spier ye at the herrin boats at the pier o Foggyloan.