The Skye Boat Song is about the Battle of Culloden which took place in Scotland in April 1746. The battle was the last fight of the Jacobite Rising of 1745. The Jacobite Rising was Charles Edward Stuart's attempt to win the throne of Great Britain and Ireland. It ended in the Jacobite's defeat within 40 minutes with about 1000 of them slain. It was their last major attempt to restore the Stuart dynasty.

Skye is an island in Scotland. Charles escaped from the British troops to Skye in the months after the battle, with the help of Flora MacDonald. In the end he sailed to France, never to return to Scotland.

This song is about Charles escape to Skye. It also commemorates the soldiers who were exiled and who fell in the battle.

The Skye Boat Song - Scottish Children's Songs - Scotland - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image


*Scottish sword

Song written by Sir Harold Boulton in the 19th century.

Alysa sent me the chorus of this song with the note: "My nanna passed away a couple of years ago and I am trying to compile all her Scottish nursery rhymes and lullabies she used to sing to us… Nanna was from Dumbarton in Scotland, but moved to New Zealand when she was 4 years old, but still sung all of these with a Scottish accent, it was fantastic!"

Alysa's nanna's version is:

Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing
The sea birds cry
Carry the lad that born to be king
Over the sea to Skye.

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Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Alysa Wakefield for contributing this song.

Image: The Battle of Culloden (1746) by David Morier, oil on canvas.

Thanks so much!