Far have I traveled and much have I seen
Darkest of mountains with valleys of green
Vast painted deserts, the sunsets on fire
As he carries me home to the Mull of Kintyre
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The year was 250. In Ireland, Chieftan Caipre Riata (also known as Cairbre Reudh or Red Haired Cairbar) packed up the babies and grabbed the old ladies and hit the bricks to Scotland, becoming the ruling inhabitants of that territory.
The year was 503. A descendant of the Red Haired Cairbar named Fergus took possession and control of Kintyre and Argyll, and when his brother Lorn kicked off, he took his land, too, ruling as first-ever king of Scotland. When Fergus gave up the ghost in 506, his son Domangart took over, and it just snowballed down the line.
The year was 1306. Robert the Bruce - who later became King of Scotland - was a fugitive, hiding in Dunaverty Castle from the forces of King Edward of England ~ which is a really long story that has to do with kingdoms and fighting and religion and whose dad was bigger than whose, much too much to get into here, in an article that is ultimately supposed to be about Paul McCartney's song.
Lighthouse at the Mull of Kintyre
Photo: James T M Towill, Geograph Project, CC 2.0
Great segue. So how does Red Haired Cairbar, Fergus, Domangart, and Robert the Bruce fit into Sir Paul's life? Very crookedy-like. In fact, they wouldn't have fit a'tall if it weren't for a little ditty written by the latter about a piece of land. Kintyre, in Scotland. Upon which all of the former folks had tread at some time, leaving history in their wake.
But did Sir Paul write about these folks, these steeped-in-the-rocky-crags folks? These people without whom Kintyre would not exist, nor at the least be populated? No. He wrote about the land. Not even the land that people live
on ~ he wrote about the stuff at the southernmost tip ~ the mull (taken from the Gaelic maol
it means "bare," a headland signifying a jutting crag, and baldness or bareness). Which is intriguing because, when viewed from above, a map of the entire area of Kintyre looks every bit like a certain male appendage. Indeed, the local television stations even have a test called the Mull of Kintyre Test, which the BSC (Broadcasting Standards Commission) uses to determine, based on state of flaccidity (or not), whether the male member (in any given scene) can be shown on television. Those scenes that are found to contain a shot of the member in a "state of greater extension" than that of the Mull of Kintyre to the mainland of Great Britain are doomed to the cutting room floor (insert bad Bobbitt joke here).
And since McCartney has been known to include in his songs pet references to his own "sweet banana," it is quite possible this whole lovely little ditty about his Mull of Kintyre has an inside meaning. Which also causes us to wonder how much chance played in the fact that the flip-side song on this record was "Girls' School." Hmmmm.
To give McCartney his due, we will now share a gratuitous McCartney quote regarding this song, "It was a love song really, about how I enjoyed being there and imagining I was travelling away and wanting to get back there."
Not buying it, Sir Paul.Shawna Hansen Ortega
March 11, 2013
Mull of Kintyre Songfacts
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