The Spark among the Heather

Sung by Jim Reid on Jim Reid: I Saw the Wild Geese Flee
Words and music by Jim Reid/Springthyme Music © 1984

From the early 18000s onwards, thousands of ordinary men, women and children were driven from their homes and their land in the highlands and islands of Scotland. These 'clearances' allowed the landlords to introduce sheep and gain greater profit. The crofters of Glendale in Skye formed a Land League in 1882 which eventually (by 1887) resulted in an Act of Parliament to stop such evictions.

When they brought us all together
Told us that we had to go
Leave our homes that we were born in
Leave the only life we know.

We were poor but honest crofters
Working hard so we might stay
On the land our fathers gave us
Ne'er thought we'd be forced away.

We replied, "We'll never leave home,
Never set sail o'er the sea;
Let the police come and the soldiers,
To leave home we won't agree."

Others have been put on board ships
Sailed away out o'er the deep;
Then the landlords burned their houses
To make way for flocks of sheep.

Then along came John McPherson,
Humble crofter from Glendale;
Held a meeting, formed a land league,
For his efforts thrown in jail.

But the spark amang the heather
Soon became a burning flame;
And the highlanders united
Vowed they'd never leave their hame.

But the glens still show the scars
Of those evictions of before;
And the shells of empty houses
Echo laughter sounds no more.

c p 1984, 2009 Springthyme Records