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Origins: The Great Silkie

DigiTrad:
GREAT SILKIE
HIROSHIMA
LADY ODIVERE (GREY SILKIE 3)
THE GREY SILKIE OF SULE SKERRY
WOMAN BY THE BAY


Related threads:
(origins) Origin: I Come and Stand at Every Door (P Seeger) (22)
Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation (39)
Lyr Add: Silkie (as sung by Anne Lister) (12)
Tune Req: The Great Silkie (26)
Lyr Req: The silkie of skule skerry (closed) (9) (closed)
The Great Silkie "earthly norris..." (42)


Don Firth 27 Feb 01 - 05:56 PM
GUEST,The Celtic Bard 27 Feb 01 - 05:10 PM
Stewart 27 Feb 01 - 04:52 PM
SINSULL 27 Feb 01 - 04:45 PM
MMario 27 Feb 01 - 04:40 PM
Joe Offer 27 Feb 01 - 04:29 PM
Lonesome EJ 27 Feb 01 - 04:27 PM
GUEST,Bruce O. 27 Feb 01 - 04:17 PM
Llanfair 27 Feb 01 - 04:14 PM
GUEST,The Celtic Bard 27 Feb 01 - 03:50 PM
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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Words for 'The Great Silke'
From: Don Firth
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 05:56 PM

Silky -- Silkie -- Selkie -- Selchie.

The spelling and subsequent pronunciation is a bit iffy. I had always seen the word spelled "selchie." The first syllable pronounced "sell" and the "ch" pronounced almost like a "k", but a bit softer, like a Scottish "ch" as in "Och, mon!" The first time I saw the spelling "silkie" was on the label of a Joan Baez LP in the very early Sixties.

I just typed "selchie" into google.com and came up with a humongous bunch of stuff. Here are a couple:

Click!

Clack!

Clunk!

Also, see People of the Sea by David Thomson, The John Day Company, New York, 1955. Thomson collected oral literature and songs while traveling among the Irish and Scottish isles. He'd drop into a pub for a pint, get to know the locals, then tell them a strange story he had heard. They would then open up with stories of their own. (Just for kicks, I just did a search on bookfinder.com and discovered that it has been reissued or reprinted, 1996.) Fascinating book!

Don Firth

(My great-great grandfather and grandmother came from the Orkney Isles -- Sule Skerry is just to the west, I believe -- and settled in the San Juan Islands. None of their descendants feel all that comfortable unless we live somewhere near large bodies of salt water. . . .)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Words for 'The Great Silke'
From: GUEST,The Celtic Bard
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 05:10 PM

Now that you mentioned it, Stewart, I remember hearing a beautiful and haunting Irish folksong about a Weltie (I think that's how you spell it) that got her seal skin taken away from her by a fisherman who made her his wife. Years later her children told her about a seal skin they saw their father oiling and she was able to return to the sea and her other children. The sadness of the song really comes across in the verse where the fisherman finds his children standing on the shoreline calling for their mother. I originally heard it in Gaelic and then found the translation.

Thanks for jogging my memory. Originally I didn't even know that a Silkie was.

Thanks you guys for coming through yet again.

Rebecca <><


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Words for 'The Great Silke'
From: Stewart
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 04:52 PM

Rebecca, here's a trad version from the Orkney Islands about a silkie who traveled to Norway land CLICK HERE. I've heard an almost identical trad Irish version where the silkie travels to Ireland.

Also a couple of links to the silkie mythology:

THE SILKIE FOLK

THE GREAT SILKIE O' SULE SKERRY.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Words for 'The Great Silke'
From: SINSULL
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 04:45 PM

Mr. Greenhaus had an interesting aside on this one after Susan sang it at Annamill's. Something to the effect that the silkie was actually an explanation for a number of women pregnant by way of visiting New Foundlanders. Did I understand this correctly, Dick?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Words for 'The Great Silke'
From: MMario
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 04:40 PM

For something a little different to the same tune - you might want to look at The Silkie and The Fause Mermaid


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Words for 'The Great Silke'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 04:29 PM

Hi, Rebecca - watch the spelling of the word - I think you'll find it listed as silkie. If you put silkie in our SuperSearch or our blue Digitrad search box, you'll find it.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: Lyr Add: GREAT SILKIE
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 04:27 PM

GREAT SILKIE

An earthly nurse sits and sings,
And aye, she sings by lily wean,
And little ken I my bairn's father,
Far less the land where he dwells in.

For he came on night to her bed feet,
And a grumbly guest, I'm sure was he,
Saying, "Here am I, thy bairn's father,
Although I be not comely."

"I am a man upon the land,
I am a silkie on the sea,
And when I'm far and far frae land,
My home it is in Sule Skerrie."

And he had ta'en a purse of gold
And he had placed it upon her knee,
Saying, "Give to me my little young son,
And take thee up thy nurse's fee."

"And it shall come to pass on a summer's day,
When the sun shines bright on every stane,
I'll come and fetch my little young son,
And teach him how to swim the faem."

"And ye shall marry a gunner good,
And a right fine gunner I'm sure he'll be,
And the very first shot that e'er he shoots
Will kill both my young son and me."

-----------------------------------------------------------------
Child #113
"The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry" is one of numerous tales of the Silkies, or seafolk, known to the inhabitants of the Orkney Islands and the Hebrides. These enchanted creatures dwell in the depth of the sea, occasionally doffing their seal skins to pass on land as mortal men. Legend has it that they then accept human partners, and some families on the islands actually trace their ancestry to such marriages. In more complete versions of the ballad, the Silkie's forecast of the death of himself and his son eventually come to pass. The tune is by Dr. James Waters of Columbia University. From "British Ballads and Folk Songs from the Joan Baez Songbook."

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 6-Jul-02.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Words for 'The Great Silke'
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 04:17 PM

There are several versions. The best known tune isn't a traditional one. For those you have to look hard.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Words for 'The Great Silke'
From: Llanfair
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 04:14 PM

It's in the digitrad. Browse in the G section and you will find it. It is a lovely song, I did it on my CD.
Cheers, Bron.


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Subject: Words for 'The Great Silke'
From: GUEST,The Celtic Bard
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 03:50 PM

I've been taking an intermediate piano class at my university and we were recently were assigned a Scottish folksong called "The Great Silke." I love the tune because it's so haunting and sad and I was wondering if it had any lyrics. I'm more into Irish folk music than Scottish but the tune made me curious. Any help would be appreciated.

Rebecca <><


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