Arrane Ghelby performed by Mera Royle

Perhaps one of the most beautiful tunes in all of the traditional Manx music repertoire, ‘Arrane Ghelby’ (‘Dalby Song’ in Manx Gaelic) also carries with it one of the most mysterious stories. We asked Mera Royle, one of the Isle of Man's leading young harpists, to show us how it's done.

When Sophia Morrison first published the tune of 'Arrane Ghelby,' in the journal ‘Mannin’ in 1913, she reported 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."

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