Arrane Ghelby performed by Mera Royle

Thu, 05 Oct 2017


A video has just been released of one of the Isle of Man's leading young harpists, Mera Royle, performing one of the most beautiful and intriguing of all Manx tunes, Arrane Ghelby.

As a member of Scran, and a student of Rachel Hair, Mera Royle is a regular visitor to Culture Vannin here in St. John's. When she was here recently, we thought that it would be nice to sit down and record her beautiful playing of one of the most intriguing tunes in all of the traditional Manx music repertoire, ‘Arrane Ghelby’ (‘Dalby Song’ in Manx Gaelic). The tune also carries one of the most mysterious stories, as Sophia Morrison explained when she first published the tune, in the journal ‘Mannin’ in 1913, by reporting the story told to her by Mr. T. Quane, of Dalby:

"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."

The video can be viewed here:

Mera Royle performing Arrane Ghelby

For more information about the music of the Isle of Man, please visit ManxMusic.com