Farewell To The Creeks jig

Also known as The 51st Highland Division’s Farewell To Sicily, Banks Of Sicily, The Banks Of Sicily, Farewell To Sicily, The Farewell To The Creeks, Farewell Ye Banks Of Sicily, The Highland Division’s Farewell To Sicily.

There are 12 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

Farewell To The Creeks has been added to 1 tune set.

Farewell To The Creeks has been added to 71 tunebooks.

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Seven settings

X: 1
T: Farewell To The Creeks
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:a|e2 c c>Bc|d>ef e2 d|c2 e A2 e|e>dc B2 a|
e>dc c2 c|dd/e/f e2 d|c>de e>dc|B3 A2:|
|:f|e2 e f<ag|f2 d e2 A|c<Ae ceA|d>cd B2 f|
e>ce f<ag|f>df e>cA|c2 e e>dc|B3 A2:|
|:a|c2 A d>ef|c2 e c>BA|d2 f c2 e|e>dc B2 A|
c3 d3|c<ec c>BA|c>de e>dc|B3 A2:|
|:e|a2 e f2 a|e2 f e>cA|dAf c>de|e<dc B2 e|
a2 e f<af|e2 f e>cA|c2 e e>dc|B3 A2:|
X: 2
T: Farewell To The Creeks
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
e|:ecB ABA|{c}def e2e|ecB ABA|edc B2e|
ecB ABA|{c}def e2A|c2e edc|1 BGB A2e:|2 BGB A3||
|:{B}cBA def|e2c cBA|{c}def e2A|edc B2e|
{B}cBA def|e2c cBA|{B}c2e edc|BGB A3:|
|:a2e {f}g2a|e2c cBA|def e2A|edc B2e|
a2e {f}g2a|e2c cBA|c2e edc|BGB A2e:|
X: 3
T: Farewell To The Creeks
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
a|e2c c>Bc|d>ef e2d|c2e A>ce|e>dc B2a|
e2c c>Bc|d>ef e2d|c2e e>dc|B3 A2:|
f|e>ce f<ag|f>df e>cA|c2c c<ec|d>cd B2f|
e>ce f<ag|f>df e>cA|c2e e>dc|B3 A2:|
a|c3 d2f|c<ec c>BA|d2f c2e|e>dc B2a|
c3 d2f|c<ec c>BA|c2e e>dc|B3 A2:|
e|a2e f2a|e2f e>cA|d2f c2e|e>dc B2e|
a2e f2a|e2f e>cA|c2e e>dc|B3 A2:|
X: 4
T: Farewell To The Creeks
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:a|{ef}e2 c {gcd}c>{g}B{d}c|{Gdc}d>ef {gef}e2 d|{g}c2 {GdG}e {g}A>{d}ce|{gef}e>dc {gBd}B2 a|
{ef}e2 c {gcd}c>{g}B{d}c|{Gdc}d>ef {gef}e2 d|{g}c2 {GdG}e {gef}e>dc|{gBd}B3 {G}A2:|
|:f|{gef}e>{g}ce {g}f<ag|{afg}f>{g}df {gef}e>{g}c{d}A|{g}c2 {GdGe}c {g}c<ec|{gde}d>cd {gBd}B2 f|
{gef}e>{g}ce {g}f<ag|{afg}f>{g}df {gef}e>{g}c{d}A|{g}c2 {GdG}e {gef}e>dc|{gBd}B3 {G}A2:|
|:a|{cd}c3 {Gdc}d2 f|{g}c<ec {gcd}c>{g}B{d}A|{Gdc}d2 f {gcd}c2 e|{gef}e>dc {gBd}B2 a|
{cd}c3 {Gdc}d2 f|{g}c<ec {gcd}c>{g}B{d}A|{g}c2 {GdG}e {gef}e>dc|{gBd}B3 {G}A2:|
|:e|{ag}a2 e {gfg}f2 a|{ef}e2 f {gef}e>{g}c{d}A|{Gdc}d2 f {gcd}c2 e|{gef}e>dc {gBd}B2 e|
{ag}a2 e {gfg}f2 a|{ef}e2 f {gef}e>{g}c{d}A|{g}c2 {GdG}e {gef}e>dc|{gBd}B3 {G}A2:|
X: 5
T: Farewell To The Creeks
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmix
|:d|A2 F F>EF|G>AB A2 G|FGA DFA|A>GF E2 d|
A2 F F>EF|G>AB A2 G|F>GA A>GF|E3 D2:|
|:d|F3 G2B|A2 F F>ED|F2 A G2 B|A>FD E2 d|
F3 G2B|A2 F F>ED|F>GA A>GF|E3 D2:|
# Added by JACKB .
X: 6
T: Farewell To The Creeks
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmix
d|A2F F>EF|G>AB A2G|F2A D>FA|A>GF E2d|
A2F F>EF|G>AB A2G|F2A A>GF|E3 D2:|
A>FA B<dc|B>GB A>FD|F2A A>GF|E3 D2:|
d|F3 G2B|F<AF F>ED|G2B F2A|A>GF E2d|
F3 G2B|F<AF F>ED|F2A A>GF|E3 D2:|
A|d2A B2d|A2B A>FD|G2B F2A|A>GF E2A|
d2A B2d|A2B A>FD|F2A A>GF|E3 D2:|
# Added by JACKB .
X: 7
T: Farewell To The Creeks
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:a|"A"e2 c c>Bc|"D"d>ef "A"e2 d|c2 {d}e A>ce|"F#m"e>dc "G"B2 a|
"A"e2 c c>Bc|"D"d>ef"A" e2 d|c2{d}e "D9"e>dc|"E"B3 "A"A2:|
|:f|"A"e>ce f<ag|"D"f>df "A"e>cA|"C#m"c2c c<ec|"D" d>cd "G"B2 f|
"A"e>ce f<ag|"D" f>df "A"e>cA|"C#m"c2{d} e "D9"e>dc|"E"B3 "A"A2:|
|:a|"A"c3 "D"d2f|"A"c<ec c>BA|"D"d2 f "A"c2 e|"F#m"e>dc "G"B2 a|
"A"c3 "D"d2f|"A"c<ec c>BA|"C#m"c2{d}e "D9"e>dc|"E"B3 "A"A2:|
|:e|"A"a2 e "D"f2 a|"A"e2-e/f/ e>cA|"D"d2f "A"c2e|"F#m"e>dc "G"B2 e|
"A"a2 e "D"f2a|"A"e2-e/f/ e>cA|"C#m"c2{d}e "D9"e>dc|"E"B3 "A"A2:|

Thirty-five comments

“Farewell to the Creeks”


A pipe march ~ “composed by Pipe Major James ‘Pipie’ Robertson of Boyne, Banffshire, in 1915 when he was a prisoner of war in Germany. According to Norman Kennedy, the ‘Creeks’ refers to the Native-American tribe the Creek Indians and not streams.”

The World War I ballad “The 51st Higland Regiment’s Farewell to Sicily”, also known as “Banks of Sicily”, lyrics by Hamish Henderson, is based on and sung sung to the melody of the march “Farewell to the Creeks”, “~ composed while he was Intelligence Officer for the Highland Division in World War II. G. W. Lockhart (in Fiddles and Folk, 1998) relates that Henderson had been viewing the smoke curling from Mt. Etna’s crater in the distance behind the Pipes and Drums of the division’s 153 Brigade, when the band launched into “Farewell to the Creeks.” “Without hindrance,” said Henderson, “the words came flowing to me.”


Farweill ye banks o Sicily
Fare ye weill ye valley an shaw
There’s nae Jock will mourn the kyles o ye
Puir bliddy swaddies are wearie
[Aa the bricht chaumers are eerie]
Farweill ye banks o Sicily
Fare ye weill ye valley an shaw
There’s nae hame can smoor the wiles o ye
Puir bliddy swaddies are wearie
[Aa the bricht chaumers are eerie]

©Hamish Henderson

Full song ~

Other dots for it ~

Here’s another setting
|e|:ecB ABA|{c}def e2e|ecB ABA|edc B2e|
ecB ABA|{c}def e2A|c2e edc|1BGB A2e:|2BGB A3||
:{B}cBA def|e2c cBA|{c}def e2A|edc B2e|
{B}cBA def|e2c cBA|{B}c2e edc|BGB A3:||
a2e {f}g2a|e2c cBA|def e2A|edc B2e|
a2e {f}g2a|e2c cBA|c2e edc|BGB A2e:||

The Creek Nation

44,000 Native Americans were members of the U.S. military forces fighting in World War II and more than 12,000 fought in World War I…

Not sure about that………….

I would normally hesitate to argue with Norman about anything, but I think he’s wrong in this case, “ceolachan”.
From the website of the North-East Folklore Archive [ located in Mintlaw, some 40 miles up the road from Aberdeen ]:

“Farewell To The Creeks” - by Pipe Major James Robertson of the Gordon Highlanders. Robertson composed the tune in 1919, after his release from a German prisoner of war camp, in memory of the creeks of Portsoy where he enjoyed his boyhood adventures.

That also agrees with a discussion I heard last year about James Robertson on Radio Scotland’s “Pipelines” programme. Seems much more likely, don’t you think ?

Posted by .

That makes a lot more sense to me ~

I had my doubts and considered emailing you and a couple of othes first. Thanks for making better sense than the other tale on it. I did a search and hadn’t found anything else on it but the ‘doubt’ loomed large, the title being a good start for the doubt. I wish I had ‘access’ to better sources immediately at hand…

Thanks Kenny… I hope my slant on the tune isn’t too far off base… If you have another way with it please contribute it. ‘Balance’ is better achieved with ‘choice’…

‘Creeks’, meaning streams, rivulets, is the sort of thing I would dedicate a tune to in his situation…

Norman Kennedy ~ a short respect

Hailing originally from Aberdeen and influenced through contact by many great Scottish singers he is known for his way with Scotland’s songs and unaccompanied singing traditions as well as his storytelling, puirt a beul/mouth music, and weaving… Having lived in the U.S.A. for some years this may have influenced his interpretation of ‘Creeks’ as referring to the ‘Creek Nation’…

An extensive discography of the man, Topic, Greentrax, etc., can be found doing a search online. Here are just a few things currently available on CD:

“Norman Kennedy: Live in Scotland”
The Tradition Bearers LTCD2002
He returned for a short tour of Scotland in 1996 and this CD is a compilation from three concerts given in Aberdeen and recorded by Tom Spiers.

“The Musical Traditions” review:

“The Living Tradition” review:

“Norman Kennedy: I Little Thocht My Love Wid Leave Me”
Springthyme Records #AH001, 2004
A recording of a concert in 1999 - ‘The Folk Song Society of Greater Boston’.

“Norman Kennedy: Ballads and Songs of Scotland”
Folk-Legacy FSS 34, 1968

Here are some other relevant and interesting links to the man ~
Further, and at the loom, spinning, dyeing, weaving:

Wasn’t the Sicily campaign in WW II rather than the Great War?

Meaning of ‘the creeks’

As I undertstand it, The Creeks was the name of the farm in BanffshireJames Robertson grew up on,and to which, after his army casreer was over, he returned.

Correction to above

I correct myself. Further research reveals that The Creeks are a natural feature of the coastline by Portknockie on the southern shore of the Solway Firth; they are spectacular rocky inlets caused by heavy sea erosion. The most famous natural feature of that part of the world is the Bow Fiddle Rock, named for the strange shape it has developed through this erosion. This is a part of the world that James Robertson grew to appreciate while in his younger days holidaying with his uncle, and which he remembered while being kept in solitary confinement in a prisoner-of-war camp in 1915 (he was not a model prisoner, and was awarded the Meritorious Service medal for his work in the field ofannoying the hell out of his captors). He wrote the tune onto a piece of yellow blotting paper, which he spoke of having retained in his possession after the war. Now doesn’t this make more sense than to suppose that the tune is about a native-American tribe whose connection with the life and times of a Pipe-Major in the Gordon Highlanders of the 1914-18 war was probably nil?

Farewell to the Creeks - It would be nice to have a HBP setting

I cannot get the sheet music to play for version X:1. However, I think that both versions available above are not really Highland Bagpipe versions. I’d like to play, on the tin whistle, the original version in four parts. As I recall, Hamish Henderson set his song by adapting third and fourth parts.
The versions above seem to have been influenced by the knowledge of the song itself, especially in the first part.
Can anyone offer a reliable HBP setting?- grace notes not necessary.

Philip, I’ve just added a third setting of Farewell to the Creeks transcribed from the version on the pipefest website that I ran off some time ago. I’ve not included the pipe gracing. Is this more what you are looking for?

It’s not really that different from ceolachan’s original version, as far as I can hear.


Thanks Donald, That’s just what I need. Thanks for going to the trouble of setting it in abc and posting it her. Great, I’ll be playing Farewell to the Creeks pretty soon I hope.

Thanks to Jeremy for editing the abc of the first version of Farewell to Sicily

X:1 is now viewable as sheet music (thanks to Jeremy) and it can be seen that there are significant differences between that version and DonaldK’s. Thanks everyone.

Nice one all contributors, glad for the contributions and further clarifications, much appreciated…

I’m with DonaldK, there are no significant differences between X:1 and X:3…

It ain’t over yet…

“The Creeks are a natural feature of the coastline by Portknockie on the southern shore of the Solway Firth; they are spectacular rocky inlets caused by heavy sea erosion. The most famous natural feature of that part of the world is the Bow Fiddle Rock, “

Portknockie is by the Moray Firth.

😀 I was surprised you weren’t here earlier… Thanks for further clarification. I have yet to see this area in person, face-to-face…

I know the area fairly well, as Cullen Bay is our nearest decent seaside trip. Lots of dunters (eider) and guillemots, razorbills etc to be seen.

I wasn’t here before because I didn’t see it for all the other bits in the tunes section that I’ve been trying to work out and correct blips. It’s the later comments that draw attention.

Thanks again, brilliant…

Modulation for whistle

For low whistle it is a fab tune, however is even better when played after ‘King Farewell’ as played by the ‘Corries’. Must be played a fifth down in G to accommodate as the range is required for ‘King Farewell’

Farewell to the Creeks

The link on Facebook calls this tune a jig, it’s a march not a jig.

Dave H

Farewell to the Creeks with gracenotes

Trial post of a variation (first time user)

Farewell to the Creeks

According to my information James Robertson was born in 1886 in Scotsmill, Banffshire and died in 1961.
He was Pipe Major of the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders 1919-1924 and Depot Gordon Highlanders 1924-1927.
Does anyone know if he was a P/M in the Gordon Highlanders before 1919 (if so, which battalion?) and his place of death in 1961?

2 Part in Dmix

I learnt this version from Noel Geeson on Northumbrian pipes. Lovely played slow.

Posted by .

Re: Farewell To The Creeks - possible variant on its history

To us, Muscogee (Mvskoke) means People of the Holly Leaf Confederacy, but to the Shawnee it meant “people who live in the swamps” and to the Delaware we were “people who have (herbal) medicine”. The Spanish first encountered us and called us Apalachee, then the French called us Alabamas and Tallapooses, and the British called us Creeks (because our towns were on flowing streams they had to cross to trade with us). Traders from the British Islands were common, but the English tended not to marry into our people while the Scots and Welsh did, leaving their names among us as Mcintosh, McGillivray/McGillbray, Perryman and McPerryman, and many others (but not McNac, a localization from the French - Moniac).

While Lower Creeks (on the coastal plains) would ally with the Americans during the Revolution, the Upper Creeks (in the hills and mountains) kept their alliance with the British and accommodated their soldiers, who had to leave upon news of the Treaty of Paris (1783). And, they left us a song.

We are a very musical people. Our traditional religious ceremonies and their dances center upon our ancient songs (many so old and holy that their words have no modern meaning), and our New Year (midsummer) is a liturgy carefully constructed around songs so that the Ribbon (Knife) Dance and Buffalo Dance end the year. The town fire is allowed to die overnight, the old ashes are removed to the Bird Mound and a new is fire built and celebrated with the Feather Dance and other rituals, including the annual Honor Speech to the people (rhythmic and rhyming - an American ancestor to modern rap). Songs play many other roles in our lives, especially the ones that must be sung to (or, even blown into with a straw) the medicines we are blessed with. An older man with a younger woman might be teased with “please teach me that song”, or a gay man might be whispered about with “how can he resist the songs of a woman?”.

The song the British soldiers left us was kept through many disasters (the Redstick War of andrew jackson, forced Removal to Indian Territory in violation of our treaties, the southern attacks and northern neglect during the U.S. Civil War, the many murders of our people when our lands and the oil under them were divided up for “guardians” to manage), and a major feature of our midwinter Fiddle Dance. But those Fiddle Dances are now just a memory (perhaps “assimilation” was the greatest disaster of all), and no record exists to prove whether the song we were given is the same as “Farewell to the Creeks”, but our some of our elders believe they recognize it, and it is claimed and used now as though it were ours these past 234 years.

Re: Farewell To The Creeks

It is yours because you have made it so…

Thanks for this contribution and connection, valued and much appreciated…

Re: Farewell To The Creeks

Richard, are you absolutely sure Tim Reilly had a D9 chord in the part ending? D9 is a dominant chord from G major and and is spelled D-F#-A-C-E. Not sure the C nat fits and sounds very odd to my ears. Perhaps he meant Dadd9, spelled D-F#-A-E.