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Bonny Udny

from Away From My Window by Iona Fyfe

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A song which has been in my repertoire for a few years, this version of Bonny Udny, is a mix of Lizzie Higgins and Jane Turriff’s versions. Bonny Udny has been sung by many source singers of the North East such as John Strachan, John Mearns, Daisy Chapman, John MacDonald and Jock Duncan. Peter Hall comments: “The theme and form of this song facilitate its attachment to any locality, and versions are known under a variety of names: Yarmouth is A Pretty Town, Bonny Portmore, The Boys of Kilkenny.” Bonny Udny, to me, highlights the universalism of folksong; the song, carrying the same message – love for an area and significant partner –can be found in Scotland, England and Ireland, linking the British oral tradition.

With thanks to Pete Shepheard at Springthyme Records for allowing the use of Lizzie Higgin’s Bonnie Udny from the 1969 album Princess of the Thistle. “Lizzie stated that it had been in her family ‚for years‘, but although a favourite, it required her to be in top form to sing, because of its great range.” (In Memory of Lizzie Higgins 1929-1993)

Bonny Udny is found in John Ord’s Bothy Songs and Ballads, Greig Folk-Song in Buchan, Greig-Duncan (6:1089), Roud 3450


Oh Udny, bonny Udny, ye shine waur ye stand
The mair I look on you, the mair my heart warms,
If I were in Udny, I’d think I’s at hame
For there I get sweethairts, for here I get nane

It’s nae the lang road love, that I hae tae gang
Nor is it the lang miles that maks me think lang
But the one thing that grieves me and maks my hairt sad
Is the leavin’ o’ you Udny and yon bonny lass

Well, the lads aboot udny, they’re aa rovin’ blades
They tak great delight in the coortin’ o maids
They kiss them and clap them and spend money free
Of a‘ the airts in Scotland, bonny Udny’s for me

I once loved a fair maid, she said she loved me
An’ oor parents were willing that wedded we’d be
But for all of her promises, she has forgot me,
And since she’s got another, let her go where will she

‘Twas on a certain Sunday that me and my love met
Which caused me on Monday tae sigh, sore and weep
But ti spoil my eyes weeping, such a fool I would be
And since she’s got another let her go where will she

I will build my love a castle on yon piece of ground,
Where lord, duke nor nobleman can ne’er pull it down
And if anyone should ask of you “Oh what is your name”,
You can say it is Mary and from Udny ye came

You pull the red rose, and I’ll pull the thyme
You drink tae your love and I’ll drink tae mine
For my mind will not alter or gang to and fro
But I’ll aye prove kind-hairtit tae the girl that I loe

Let us drink and be merry, let us drink and gang hame
For if we stay langer, we’ll get a bad name
We’ll get a bad name and we’ll drink ourselves foo
And the long walks o’ Udny are aye tae gan


from Away From My Window, released March 24, 2018


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Iona Fyfe Scotland, UK

Aberdeenshire folksinger, Iona Fyfe, has become one of Scotland’s finest young folk singers, rooted in the singing traditions of the North East of Scotland. The first ever singer to win the coveted title of Musician of the Year at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2021, Iona has been described as “one of the best Scotland has to offer.” (Global-Music.de)

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