MacPhail: poetic tribute to Runrig

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Among the many artists and bands on the Highland music scene that have emerged in the current surge of popularity in that genre, Runrig, by a huge margin, are still the most successful and popular.

This is particularly fitting, as they have been the single most important catalyst in driving the entire current revival. A mark of Runrig’s position as the kings of Celtic music is that this weekend they will perform for two consecutive nights to more people than all the other bands and festivals of
this summer could attract combined.

On a site below Stirling Castle, more than 40,000 fans will witness this band leave the stage as undisputed champions in their field, and if ever a band deserved success and the fulfilment of dreams, it is Runrig.

The foundations that Runrig have been instrumental in building over the past 45 years are now bearing fruit that will last far beyond their own time.

Runrig – Angus MacPhail (last verse, Flora MacPhail)

They conquered the world in the ways of the wise
On a wavelength in tune with their past;
Without brash ambition to grab for the prize
No dash to be flash or be fast.

But steadfast and steady they furrowed the field
With a plough their people passed down.
By the strength of their skill, unmatched was the yield
Healed land, by their hand, is their crown.

And conquer they have, but with nobody beaten
They have won but no one has lost.
On the power of their poem, a race starved and has now eaten
And a cliff from abyss has been crossed.

They have led with the beam of a lighthouse at sea
And guided a ship from the reef.
If the ship of the Gael continues to be
Nod then to their pen and belief.

Pioneers of a path to share wide their song
They showed the way first for us all,
And all who come after in debt will belong
For their grit to commit to their call.

Through blood to the Brothers the gifts of the bards
Then a well of deep riches combine
For working the well are god-given guards
Turning thought and the water to wine.

Humble the ways of true leaders of men
With grace and humility’s hand,
When asked ‘What is Runrig?’, time and again
To this day they will say, ‘Just a band.’

But just a band they are not, and never have been
From inception, through change and transition
From the seed to the sapling, their song evergreen
With a key to the tree of tradition.

What they’ve done for their people cannot be repaid
Giving confidence back to the young.
Past members and present all built what was made.
To our side now the tide they have swung.

And now from their stage they have planned their last bow
In the way they have lived for their goal –
With dignity, wisdom and guiding the prow
All done, while at one with their soul.

Fir ghasda, fir ghaisgeil, stèidh’chte daingeann san tìr
Le sùil ghèur air cuireachd ’s air buain;
Le feamainn an dualchais chuir iad todhar air fonn.
Le gach tonn dhùin iad ‘Cearcall a’ Chuain’.