Cullerlie 2022

Cullerlie 2022

The Traditional Singing Weekend at Cullerlie

2224 July 2022

A Festival to celebrate the singing traditions of Scotland, England, and Ireland in memory of Tom and Anne Reid

Guest Singers | Storyteller | Programme | Booking | h-Hm | Organisers and Sponsors

The festival is a unique celebration, bringing together outstanding traditional singers from Scotland, England, and Ireland. The event is especially for those who like to hear, enjoy, and join in unaccompanied traditional singing. Essentially informal, friendly and non-competitive, it will be just the place to encourage the young and less experienced as well as the old hands. The weekend includes informal concerts featuring the guest singers, singarounds for everyone who wants to join in, workshops, craft demonstrations and a talk.

Cullerlie Farm Park and Heritage Centre was set up by Tom ('Tam') and Anne Reid in 1993 and is now run by Anne’s daughter Tracey Walker and her husband Eric, as well as other members of the family. Tom moved to the Cullerlie Estate with his parents in 1935, and worked with his father in the traditional way of farming. He kept the traditions alive by turning the old original steading into a farm museum with one of the largest privately owned collections of farming and domestic memorabilia in Scotland. Anne, who was from nearby Peterculter, joined Tom when they married in 1975.

Tom (born 1929) was a legendary singer, having been crowned, in 1977, the Bothy Ballad King before a crowd of 10,000 at the Haughs in Turriff, a title that remained his until his death in January 2003. Anne (1939–2006) was also a fine singer and promoted the traditions of the North-East through singing and speaking workshops with schoolchildren and adults at local schools and at the museum, as well as hosting regular Saturday-night ceilidhs. It is the family’s express wish that the festival should continue to run in memory of Tom and Anne.

Cullerlie Farm Park nestles at the foot of the Hill of Fare where the battles of Corrichie and Cullerlie Moor were fought. It is 6 miles north-east of Banchory and 12 miles west of Aberdeen. From Aberdeen follow the A944 to the Westhill traffic lights, then turn left on to the B9119 to Garlogie, then fork left again on the B9125 for 3 miles. The Park is on the right behind Birchmoss Depot.

Guest Singers

Lainey Dempsey is from Glasgow and has been singing since childhood.  Her dad was a singer and she grew up around traditional songs. She has many fond memories of listening to wonderful unaccompanied singing around campfires and kitchen tables. Lainey often collaborates with other musicians and artists, lending her voice to films and various art projects. During the pandemic, she has sung regularly at online sessions, including a guest slot at An Góilín in March 2021.


Joe Aitken

Sarah Jane Gibbon hails from Orkney. Taught to sing by her mother, over the years she has performed with her mother and sister, as a solo artist, in the Song Shop Trio, and in various choirs. She co-led the Big Orkney Song Project with Aimee Leonard, collecting, investigating, reviving and teaching Orkney Songs in the local community. A tradition bearer and singer songwriter, her compositions are rooted in the landscapes, seascapes and heritage of Orkney.


Rachel Carstairs
Photo: Sean Purser

Kirsty Hannah is a singer from Grimsby in Lincolnshire, who has spent time conducting her own research into the history of folk song collecting in the county. Many of the songs now feature in her repertoire and she loves to tell stories of the Lincolnshire singers wherever she goes. A resident singer at Grimsby Folk Club, she has performed at various local festivals and at Whitby


Nick Dow

Geordie Murison is a North-East singer from Netherley near Stonehaven. He is passionate about songs and ballads, especially in his ain mither tongue, the Doric, but has eclectic music tastes forby. He has twice won the Brose Cup at the Elgin Bothy Ballad Champion of Champions competition. He has appeared at various festivals ‘oot o sight o Bennachie’, from Orkney to Sidmouth, London to Inishowen, and is delighted to be asked back to Cullerlie.

Áine Larkin


Alan Prior has drawn his repertoire from diverse areas of song. He is well known and respected in many places for his big voice, appearing with his wife Carole at a number of festivals and clubs throughout the UK and Ireland, and in Ian McCalman's production of ‘Far Far from Ypres’.  Alan enjoys traditional style singing, a sprinkling of Burns’ songs, and chooses songs that he identifies with from more recent writers.

Thomas McCarthy


Carole Prior is a well-known and powerful singer who,  together with her husband Alan, has been invited to many folk festivals and singing weekends throughout the UK and Ireland.  Whilst traditional songs and ballads are her first love, she also enjoys newer compositions in a traditional style, particularly when they convey emotional themes or a good story.  She dabbles in song writing and composing tunes for poems. Most notably, her tune for Violet Jacob's ‘Baltic Street’ has become a favourite with many singers.


Sean Mone


Mike Tickell learnt his songs from the traditional singers of his area in the North Tyne Valley in the 1950s. He won many Border Ballad competitions in his youth and has a wide repertoire from lively chorus to tragic rural songs. His father and grandfather were singers and musicians. He worked for the Forestry Commission before joining the Horse Guards. He spent his later life working in schools. He has a CD of Northumbrian songs, Warksburn, and has recorded a radio series on Border Ballads.

Tony Robertson


Grace Toland was born and reared in Inishowen, County Donegal, and is a passionate supporter of the rich unaccompanied singing tradition of her native peninsula. Her songs and style come from time shared with older singers, family and friends. Grace has performed and presented at festivals and conferences in Ireland and abroad. A driving force behind the Inishowen Traditional Singers’ Circle, she organises sessions, the annual Inishowen Singing Weekend, and a range of archival and performance projects. Grace works remotely in Inishowen for the Irish Traditional Music Archive.



Macdara Yeates (‘Dara’ for short) is a traditional folksinger with a repertoire spanning ‘big’ ballads, songs of old Dublin, and ballads from the Traveller tradition. Born and raised in Dublin, Macdara is one of the singers associated with the recent resurgence of young talent in the city. He has performed internationally with the folk band Skipper’s Alley, as well as at singing festivals such as the Frank Harte Festival and the FifeSing. Recently he initiated and developed a collaborative project with the Dublin Dock Workers Preservation Society ‘Are You A Button Man?’, combining the stories of retired dockers with songs of the trade.

Tripple - Cait, Annie and Jill


Pauline Cordiner is a storyteller from the fishing and farming traditions of the North East of Scotland who has been telling stories in schools, museums and castles as well as at festivals like Glastonbury, Spectra, and Cambridge Folk Festival for over 20 years. She enjoys telling a variety of folk tales, creation myths and traditional Scottish tales – particularly those handed down by Stanley Robertson –  and uses her background in living history and the oil industry to share her enthusiasm for history, science, and the environment.
Joe Aitken











weekenders & guests







Workshop A



‘Jewellery Making – Beadwork’, Eydie Riddell


Workshop B



'Songs from Dublin and Orkney', Macdara Yeates & Sarah Jane Gibbon


Workshop C



‘Farmhouse Cooking’, Shirley Foulkes


Workshop D1 



'Little Grey Fergies', the Ferguson Club


Workshop D2 



'Building a Bow Tent', Davie Donaldson


      The Cullerlie Hour (Marquee)



'The Inishowen Song Tradition', Grace Toland







Singaround A



Carole Prior


Singaround B



Mike Tickell


Singaround C



Lainey Dempsey


Long Tea Break





Grand Concert



In the Marquee
All Guests – Hosted by Ian Russell and Scott Gardiner


10.00–11.30 Workshop A     'Jewellery Making – Beadwork', Eydie Riddell
  Workshop B     'Ballads from the Bothy and the Borders', Geordie Murison and Mike Tickell
  Workshop D1     'Little Grey Fergies', the Ferguson Club
  Workshop D2     ‘Storytelling in the Bow Tent’, Pauline Cordiner
11.45–1.30 Lunchtime Singarounds      
  Singaround A     Alan Prior and Sarah Jane Gibbon
  Singaround B     Kirsty Hannah and Macdara Yeates
  Informal Music     in the tea room
2.00–5.00 Farewell Concert     in the Marquee
        All Guests – hosted by Ian Russell and Scott Gardiner

A = Marquee    B = Bothy/Wash Hoose     C = Tea Room     D = Outside


Booking Form

General Information 

  • Food will be available over the weekend in the tea-room.
  • You can buy an all-day meal ticket at a discount. 
  • There will be no bar – BYOB
  • Camping and caravanning can be booked. There is a charge of £15.00 per pitch.
  • There are several B&Bs in the area – contact: Tourist Information: 01224 269180 (Banchory Library 01330 700441)
  • Bursaries are available for singers under 25 yrs in full-time education

Cullerlie Farm Park, Echt, Skene, Aberdeenshire AB32 6XL (01330 860549)


This was one of Tom’s favourite songs. The original words,‘M-Hm’, are attributed to James Nicholson in John Greig’s Scots Minstrelsie (1893), VI, 302-04.

Hiv ye heard o the deil as he wauchled through life
With a wife in ilk oxter an een in his teeth
Till some-een bawled out will ye tak mine the morn
He waggit his tail an he cockit his horn
But he only said ‘im-hm’, that daft-like word ‘im-hm’
That auld-farrant ‘im-hm’, that stands for an ‘aye’.

Now fin I wis a callant lang syne at the skweel
Oh the maister aye caed me a dunce an a feel
For aa that he said I cuid ne’er unnerstan
Except when he cried, ‘Jimmy, will ye haud oot yer han?’
Then I gloomed an said ‘im-hm’, I glowered an said ‘im-hm’
I wis nae that prood bit ower dour tae say, ‘aye’.

Syne ae day a queer wird like aul-nibbet’s himsel
He vowed he wid thrash me if I widnae spell
Says I, ‘Mr Quill’ wi a kind of a swither
I’ll spell ye the wird if ye’ll spell me anither
Lat’s hear ye spell ‘im-hm’, that daft-like wird ‘im-hm’
That auld-farrant ‘im-hm’, ye ken it means ‘aye’

Syne he steid an he glowered an he scratched his aul pate
An he shouted, Ye villain get oot o ma gate
Get aff tae yer seat, ye’re a plague o the skweel
The deil gin I ken if ye’re maist rogue or feel
Bit I only said ‘im-hm’, that daft-like wird ‘im-hm’
That auld-farrant ‘im-hm’, ye ken it means ‘aye’.

Oh and when a braw wooer I coorted my Jean
O aa the braw lassies the pride an the queen
When in my great plaidie wi hairt beatin’s pain
O I speired in a whisper, Oh! if she’d be my ain
She smiled an said ‘im-hm’, she blushed an said ‘im-hm’
A thoosan times sweeter an dearer than ‘aye’.

Well bit noo I’m a dad wi a hoose o my ain
A dainty-bit wife aye an mair than ae wean
Bit the warst o’t is this when I question I speir
They pit on a luik sae auld-farrant an queer
An they only say ‘im-hm’, that daft-like wird ‘im-hm’
That auld-farrant ‘im-hm’ that stans for an ‘aye’.

Noo ye’ve heard o this ‘im-hm’, it’s no a nice wird
When printit on paper it’s perfect absurd
So if you’re ower lazy tae open yer maw
Jist haud o yer tongue an say nothing ava
But niver say ‘im-hm’, that daft-like wird ‘im-hm’
That auld-farrant ‘im-hm’, ye ken it means ‘aye’.

Festival Organisers

The festival is organised jointly by: Tracey Walker (Anne’s daughter) and Eric Walker, and Scott Gardiner on behalf of Cullerlie Farm Park, Echt, Skene, Aberdeenshire AB32 6XL Tel: 01330 860549, and Ian and Norma Russell on behalf of The Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, MacRobert Building, King's College, Aberdeen AB24 5UA Tel: 01224 272996 Email:

A big Thank you to our Sponsors!

Breedon Aggregates
Coupers (Fish Processors) of Aberdeen
Joyce and Geordie Murison
The Friends of the Elphinstone Institute
And to other much appreciated donors