Arrane Ghelby - The Song of Dalby


Culture Vannin:

Do you know the story of the mysterious boatman of Niarbyl?

It is one of our favourite stories, as it links to a tune which most people connected to Manx music will know - Arrane Ghelby - and also because it gave rise to this beautiful image by Mark Kinrade.
The story in its full original form is this:

"In the long ago a curiously shaped boat would be seen at the close of a summer evening coming from Bradda towards Dalby. In the boat sat an old man with long white hair, who rowed until off Niarbyl Point; there he rested on his oars and sang this melody, which runs up and down the minor scale with the lilt of the waves. And as the thing became known, the people would come and stay on the shore to listen to his music, for it was very sweet to them; but his boat was far off, and no words could be distinguished. When the old man had made an end of the song, he rowed south-westward till he was seen no more. And no one knew whence he came, nor whither he went, nor who he was, but the people of Dalby knew his song and taught it to their children’s children."
[Sophia Morrison, 'Mannin', 1913]

You will undoubtedly want to hear the tune now, so here are two good examples:
Mera Royle Music (some years ago now - sorry, Mera!):
* Mona Douglas retelling the tale, with Bernard Caine RBV & Charles Guard accompanying:

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