GOVAN’S working class heroes, its shipbuilding past and its Gaelic population are all celebrated in a collection of songs about the area and its rich heritage.

The Glasgow Barons have teamed up with singer songwriter Norrie MacIver to release Songs of Govan Old, an album filled stories from the close-knit community’s days gone by.

Pairing Scots and Gaelic folk music, it is rooted in the tradition of social commentary, with the stunning sounds of a string orchestra bringing Govan’s past to life.

It includes Mary, which pays tribute to rent strike activist and former Bailie of Govan Mary Barbour, and Lady Elder, which celebrates philanthropist Isabella Elder who promoted the education and welfare of Govan residents.

Glasgow Times:

Songs of Govan Old also honours Govan’s boy soldier WW1 Private Lawrence Nealis and Latha Na Fèille tells the tale of the Glasgow Gaels’ historic connection between this part of Glasgow and the Highlands, through the eyes of the Govan Fair.

Ten of the 13 tracks are penned by Norrie, while the remaining three set the work of Govan poets to song, namely John Murray’s A Flea in the Lug and Neilsen and His Bride, and Bass Kennedy’s The Clyde.

Glasgow Times:

The album release is the culmination of a two-year heritage project. Songs of Govan Old was first commissioned by The Glasgow Barons in 2018 and Norrie worked to uncover material about the area’s past with local historians and custodians of Govan’s heritage, The Govan Reminiscence Group.

Much of the work was then premiered in Govan Old Parish Church with a 15-piece string orchestra conducted by The Glasgow Barons’ Artistic Director Paul MacAlindin in 2018 and 2019.

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Skippinish front man Norrie, originally from the Isle of Lewis , explains: “To write new material based on the true accounts of life in Govan and get to know key figures from Govan’s past was a real privilege. I wanted to try and feel what it would be like to have grown up in this part of the city.

Glasgow Times:

“It’s been fantastic to see the project grow from our first show to this collection of songs. Govan has a great and important heritage and I hope people can connect with that through this album.”

Paul MacAlindin, Artistic Director of The Glasgow Barons, said: “As a regeneration orchestra, we take pride in promoting Govan’s heritage and culture far and wide and telling the positive stories from this area. This album was the next step in getting these marvellous songs out there that give people a fresh perspective on Govan.

“We couldn’t have produced Songs of Govan Old without the support of the Govan Reminiscence Group who work tirelessly to tell Govan’s story and we’re grateful to them for sharing their knowledge.”

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Norrie is joined on vocal and acoustic guitar on the album by five representatives of The Glasgow Barons: Seonaid Aitken and Katrina Lee on violin, Patsy Reid on viola, Alice Allen on cello and Ben Burnley on bass.

The album was recorded under Covid-19 regulations in September at Chem19 Recording Studio using five string players whose sound was layered to recreate the sound of the original 15-piece line up. The project is funded with help from Creative Scotland and The William Grant Foundation.

Songs of Govan Old is released on December 4.