The Wigtownshire Pages



The Rover O' Loch Ryan

contributed by Sam Heron
loch ryanLocated in the extreme south west of Scotland, Loch Ryan is a large 'sea loch' in Wigtownshire. (A loch is a lake in England and a lough in Ireland. ) Its entrance from the Firth of Clyde is nearly two miles wide, bounded on the west by the Parish of Kirkcolm and on the east by the Parish of Ballantrae in Ayrshire. Stretching 10 miles in length, Loch Ryan measures about 4 miles at its greatest width. The town of Stranraer is situated at the head of Loch Ryan, sharing the loch's shores with Cairnryan and Kirkcolm. The language used in the poem is local to Stranraer and the district.
The Rover O' Loch Ryan
by Hew Ainslie

The rover o' Loch Ryan he's gane,
Wi' his merry men sae brave;
Their herts are o' the steel, an' a braver, better keel
Ne'er bowled ower the back o' a wave.
It's no when the loch lies deid in its troch,
When naethin' disturbs it ava;
But the rack an' the ride o' the restless tide,
Or the splash o' the grey sea-maw.
It's no when the yawl an' the licht skiffs crawl
Ower the breist o' the siller sea,
That I look to the west for the bark I lo'e best,
An' the rover that's dear to me;
But when the cld lays its cheek to the flood,
An' the sea lays its shouther to the shore;
When the wund sings high, an' the sea whaups cry,
As they rise frae the whitenin' roar.
It's then that I look to the thickenin' rook,
An' watch by the midnicht tide;
I ken the wund brings my gallant rover hame,
An' the sea that he glories to ride.
O merry sits he 'mang his gallant crew
Wi' the helm-heft in his hand;
An' he sings alood to his lads in blue,
As his een are on Galloway's land.
'Unstent an' slack each reef an' tack,
Gie her sail, lads, while it may sit;
She has roared through a heavier sea afore,
An' she'll roar through a heavier yit.
When landsmen sleep, or wake an' creep,
In the tempest's angry moan
We dash through the drift, an' sing to the lift
O' the wave that heaves us on.

cld (clood) - cloud
shouther (shoother) - shoulder
From 'The Scots Book of Lore and Folklore' compiled by Ronald MacDonald DOUGLAS. Published by Beekman House ISBN: 0-517-366037
According to Conrad Selle, Hew Ainslie was born at Bargany in Ayrshire, Scotland on April 5, 1792. Hew was the only son of George Ainslie an employee on the estate of Sir Hew Dalrymple Hamilton. He was educated in the parish school at Ballantrae, and later at the academy at Ayr. In 1809 his family moved to Roslin, about six miles from Edinburgh. He married his cousin Janet Ainslie in 1812, whose brother Jock had married Hew's sister Eleanora.

He studied law in Glasgow, and worked as a clerk in the Register House in Edinburgh. In 1820 he revisited Ayrshire on foot with James Wellstood and John Gibson and in the next two years wrote A Pilgrimage to the Land of Burns, which was published in London in 1822. The book was an account of their travels and visits with some of Robert Burns's contemporaries, with songs and ballads by Ainslie that were much in the style of Burns, and illustrations by Wellstood.

In July, 1822, Ainslie sailed from Liverpool to New York with his friend Wellstood. Mrs. Ainslie and their three children joined him in the following year. Ainslie and Wellstood purchased Pilgrim's Repose, a farm at Hoosac Falls in Rensselaer County, New York. Ainslie and his family lived there for almost three years before joining Robert Owen's utopian socialist cooperative community at New Harmony, Indiana in 1825.

Sam Heron
Australia, September 2002
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