The Royal Scots Cap Badge


Fair Honey


The tune Fair Honey is found in the Canntaireachd MS and in the MSS of Angus MacKay and Duncan Campbell. Each has a Gaelic name, spelt variously, but all apparently phonetic variants of A' Mhil Bhraonach. Neither attempted an English translation.


General Thomason noted the tune in his MS. book over date 17th October, 1871, as A' Mhil Braonnach – Fair Honey, Subsequently this name found its way into Ceol Mor, and is adopted there as hallowed by usage, though it is difficult to see where the Fair came from. Braonach seems to describe the dripping of pure honey from a honeycomb.


J. MacDougall Gillies copied the tune into his MS. book on 27th October, 1884, and wrote below it, in pencil, Are you sad (translated from A' bheil thu bronach). Perhaps the explanation is that someone once understood indistinctly spoken or imperfectly heard words to be A' Mhil Bhraonach (Fair Honey) rather than A' bheil thu bronach (are you sad).


Much of the above is as was posted on the Piobaireachd Society website, 2006.


To my mind the comments about MacDougall Gillies' note seem likely to be on track. Given a long history of variable quality in translating orally transmitted Gaelic names, the chance of error in General Thomason's note is high to very high.


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