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Currie Dubh nan Ròpa

Currie Dubh nan Ròpa – Kylesku
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Brendan O’Hanrahan
North West Highlands Geopark

From north Assynt comes a story, a story that led to a song. The Currie Dubh and Ròpa has been said to have originated over 300 years ago, and the events described within its verses date back to the mid-17th century. The tale immortalised in the song relates to the fate of a sea captain…

From north Assynt comes a story, a story that led to a song. The Currie Dubh and Ròpa has been said to have originated over 300 years ago, and the events described within its verses date back to the mid-17th century. The tale immortalised in the song relates to the fate of a sea captain from Gairloch named Currie Dubh (Black Currie). The sea captain was fishing in Loch a’ Chàrn Bhàin one day, when the weather turned bad, this led to his boat hitting a rock not far from Kylesku. The skipper managed to get the boat aground somewhere nearby where the crew could safely disembark, ensuring their safety first.

The boat was badly damaged, but apparently not irreparable, so Currie stayed in Kylesku while the necessary repairs were being carried out.  During the time spent at Kylesku mending his boat, Currie made the acquaintance of the daughter of the local laird. Unbeknownst to him,  Sir John Mackenzie of Achmore was also interested in winning the lady’s hand. Currie now appeared to cut across these well-laid plans, proposing marriage to the lucky woman. Unsurprisingly the girl’s father preferred the suit of the titled gentleman as opposed to a skipper from deepest Ross-shire. Letters between the girl and Currie were intercepted by her father, and she began to fear that Currie had lost interest. While pining for her love she is said to have composed the famous song.

Eventually the girl was married to Sir John, but Currie had other plans. He later returned to Glendubh with a gun and murder in his heart. Currie confronted Sir John, and MacKenzie fled, leaving the coast clear for Currie to be reunited  with his love. Two days later MacKenzie turned the tables and decided to pursue his rival. He found Currie at the inn and shot him dead as he exited the hostelry. Currie’s body was then dumped in the loch. In a fit of jealous rage MacKenzie returned to Achmore and shot his unfaithful wife, before finally turning the gun upon himself.

Legend still remembers the ill fated love triangle. Ghost sightings of both the unfortunate skipper, at Lochan Dubh, and his beloved at Achmore, are reported to this day and their memory lives on in the folk song Currie Dubh and Ròpa.

Currie Dubh nan Ròpa Peom

Gaelic Version

English Version

Currie dubh an ròpa

Cò bhiodh brònach uime ?

Ach b’anns’ le mac an t-seòid

Falbh le cleòc ‘s gunna.


Chorus:

Cadal cha dean mi

Sùgradh cha dèan mise;

Nochd cha chaidil mi.

Tha mo luaidh a’ tighinn,

Cadal cha dèan mi.


Currie’s am fear bàn

Fhuair mi gradh bho’n dithis;

Thug iad bhuam mo chàil,

’S chan eil mo shlainte fligheadh.


Shèid a’ ghaoth o’ n tuath

Suas an Caolas-Cumhang;

Thug thu i mu’n cuairt,

’S bhuail i air an rudha.


Bhuail i air an tràigh

Far nach d’fhàs an duileasg;

Leum thu dhith a ghràidh

’S shàbhail thu iad uile.


Ged gheibhinn Coille Stròm,

An tigh mor ’s am fearann,

B’annsa learn bhith air bòrd

Measg nan ròp le Currie.


Thèid mi thar a’ Chuirn Bhàin,

Ni mi àite suidh ann

Coimhead air an Stòr

Far an seòl na long an.


Am MacCoinnich ùr

A’ togail sùil ri gunna;

Ach Currie a’ Chuain tuaith,

Thug thu bhuaith’ an t-urram


Cha b’ann an sabhal feòir

Fhuair mi ’n tòs a bhruidheann,

Ach an seòmar àrd

An tigh bàn a’ ghlinne.


B’ òg a thug mi dhuit an gaol

’ S daor a rinn mi cheannach;

Cha b’e gaol gun uaill

Dh’fhàg mo ghruaidhean cho tana.


Ged gheibhinn leaba ur

’ S i dèanta suas le itean

B’fhearr leam leaba chaol

’ S an darna leth aig Currie.*

Black Currie of the rope

Who would feel sorry for him ?

The heart’s desire of the son of the gentleman

Would be walking out with his cloak and his gun.


Chorus

I will not sleep

I will do no courting, I will take no pleasure]

I will not sleep to-night

My dear one is coming—

Sleep I will not.


Currie and the fair fellow

I gave my love to both,

I lost my appetite

And am now love-sick.


The wind blew from the North

Up Kylesku;

You turned her about,

And she struck on a point.


She struck on the shore

Where the dulse did not grow;

You leaped out of her, my love,

And you saved them all.


Although I would get the wood of Strome,

The big house and the land,

I would far rather be on board ship

Among the ropes with Currie.


I will go on foot to Cairnbawn,

I will make a place to sit there

Looking at Stoer Head

Where the ships sail.


The new Mackenzie (Sir John)

Is aiming his gun,

Oh, Currie in the Northern Ocean

You beat him in deserving honour:


It was not in the hay-bam

That I got the beginning of the talking

But in the high room

Of the white house of the glen.


I was young when I fell in love,

But it was a hard bargain;

It was not love without honour

That left my cheeks so thin.


Though I would get a new bed,

And make it up with feathers,

I would rather have a narrow bed

And share it with Currie.**

*R. MacDonald Robertson, ‘Currie Dubh nan Ròpa’, An Comunn Gaidhealach, Vol 55, (1960), pp. 70-71.

 **R. MacDonald Robertson, ‘Currie Dubh nan Ròpa’, An Comunn Gaidhealach, Vol 55, (1960), pp. 70-71.


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Images of Kylesku courtesy of Ullapool Museum Trust. Ullapool Museum Trust retains the copyright of the images.

Currie Dubh Credit: Brendan