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Helen Fullerton

There's a place that's over-grown at the foot o' Shira Glen,
Eleven years a hame frae hame for Carmichael's men.
We came in tens o' thousands tae build the Shira Dam,
And the gaiterin' o' a fortune it was every navvy's plan.
I workit in the tunnel. and I workit in the shaft,
And then I poured the main dam, it was there I did me graft.
The nipper makes a fortune, a-stewin' up yer tea,
I think he boils his underwear, for it tastes like that to me.
If the gaffer disnae like yer face, it's "Paddy, are you tired?
I'll keep ye frae the roarin' rain, get doon the hill, ye're fired!"
But if yer face it's made tae fit, ye'll work the winter through,
And what ye make in the wind and rain, ye'll melt in the mountain dew.
And when ye're doon the glen again ye join a dinner queue,
And at the end a grisly lump - I heard them ca' it stew,
McKay's fat dog it gets the meat, and the milk it's watered sair,
And the soup comes up in the same old pail that's went tae wash the flair.
The Shira it hasnae a Union, though I mind when it was tried;
Carmichael he came to the meetin' and got up on a chair and cried:
"There's no barbed wire around this place, so get ye up the hill.
If you don't like it, jack up boys, your places I can fill."
But that day we had chicken, aye, and the next day we had meat;
The third they took our spokesmen and kicked them on the street.
Aye, on a simmer's evening we built the Shira Dam,
And if they ask you what we used just tell 'em spam and jam.
The swan it cries on Lochan Dubh and the seagull on the sea,
And city lights and clachan lights are burning merrily.
The Shira Dam's a bonny dam and nothing more remains,
And the lads who died a-buildin' her I could gie ye a' their names.
Footnote : The writer of this song Helen Fullerton ran the little mobile shop serving the construction workers on the Glen Shira hydro-electricity scheme. She knew at first hand the  hard work and danger facing the construction men, many of them Irish, who helped bring electric light, for the first time, to many parts of Scotland.

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