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Welcome to Pub Songs & Stories, the virtual Public House for Celtic culture and change through music.

I am Marc Gunn. I play Sci F'Irish music. I want to take you on an adventure. I'll share the stories behind my songs as we explore pop culture media through the lens of Irish & Celtic music. You will have fun and sing along, and maybe get a far too real glimpse of yourself.



Nov 16, 2021

How a musician saved the lives of hundreds of people on a sinking cruise ship. A story of bravery, leadership, and extreme cowardice.

Is Wild Mountain Thyme an Scottish song or an Irish song?

And guess which recorder player can be heard in a jewelry shop in the Highlands of Scotland?

It’s Pub Songs & Stories #244.


Welcome to Pub Songs & Stories. This is the Virtual Public House for musicians to share the stories and inspiration behind their music with your host Marc Gunn. Subscribe to the podcast and download free music at

0:33 - WHAT’S NEW?

  • Today’s show is brought to you by my Gunn Runners on Patreon. Thanks to Expat Fledgling, Krory Dempsey, Ryan and Kelly Melville, John Mota
  • There’s an MP3 of “Mingulay Boat Song”, a questionnaire to help plan my Coffee shows.
  • What’s coming up? Loreena McKennitt
  • What song would you like to hear more about?



What would you do if your ship started to sink? Jump ship or do what it takes to save the lives of hundreds of people.

Paul Eastman is our storyteller today. He is the lead singer and songwriter for the Celtic Rock band, Coast. He tells the story of Moss Hill, a musician on a cruise ship whose bravery saved the passengers.

MTS Oceanos was a cruise ship that sank in 1991. It suffered uncontrolled flooding. Her captain and some of the crew were convicted of negligence for fleeing the ship without helping the passengers, who were rescued thanks to the efforts of the ship's entertainers.

But I’ll let Coast tell that story...

12:54 - “Oceanos” by Coast from 10.2

You can find out more about the band on their website. They also have music video with footage from the ship as people are rescued and it eventually sinks.

And you can watch a documentary about the Oceanos on their blog.

This is from their latest album, 10.2. If you enjoy the band, the music, the story, please...


The musicians on this podcast are happy to share their music freely with you. You can find their music on streaming music sites. But streaming is a way to sample the music. If you hear something you love, these artists need your support.

Please visit their website, sign up to their mailing list and buy something. You could buy a digital download, a shirt, a sticker, a pin, a songbook, jewelry, or even the classic physical CD. Your purchase allows them to keep making music. And if you’re not into the physical stuff, many artists accept tips or are on Patreon. So again please support the arts.

If this show made you happy, then you can also join the Gunn Runners Club on Patreon. Your support pays for the production and promotion of my music and this podcast. If you have questions or comments, drop me an email.  Save 15% with an annual membership.

18:38 - NEXT TIME

We’re stepping back in time as I share Stories from how my music career began. It’s all from a live episode of Pub Songs & Stories that was recorded at CONjuration in Atlanta.

Loreena McKennit is coming to an episode soon.


"Wild Mountain Thyme", also known as "Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?", is a Scottish/Irish folk song. Yes. Scottish AND Irish.

The lyrics and melody are based on the song "The Braes of Balquhither" by Scottish poet Robert Tannahill and Scottish composer Robert Archibald Smith. They were adapted by Belfast musician Francis McPeake into "Wild Mountain Thyme".

According to Wikipedia, Tannahill's original song was first published in Robert Archibald Smith's Scottish Minstrel. It is about the hills (braes) around Balquhidder near Lochearnhead. Tannahill collected and adapted traditional songs.

"The Braes of Balquhither" may have been based on the traditional song "The Braes o' Bowhether".

McPeake is said to have dedicated the song to his first wife, but his son wrote an additional verse in order to celebrate his father's remarriage. "Wild Mountain Thyme" was first recorded by McPeake's nephew, also named Francis McPeake, in 1957 for the BBC series As I Roved Out.

While Francis McPeake holds the copyright to the song, it is generally believed that rather than writing the song, he arranged an existing travelling folk version and popularised the song as his father's.

When interviewed on radio, Francis McPeake said it was based on a song he heard whilst travelling in Scotland, and he rewrote it later. Bob Dylan's recording of the song cited it as traditional, with the arranger unknown, though Dylan's copyright records indicate that the song is sometimes "attributed to" McPeake.

In her book Fragrance and Wellbeing: Plant Aromatics and Their Influence on the Psyche, author Jennifer Peace Rhind describes "Wild Mountain Thyme" as essentially a love song, with the line, "Wild Mountain Thyme grows among the Scottish heather" perhaps being an indirect reference to the old custom of young women wearing a sprig of thyme, mint or lavender to attract a suitor. Rhind also notes that, in British folklore, the thyme plant was the fairies' playground and often the herb would be left undisturbed for their use.

As for me, I don’t remember where I found the song. But it would’ve been when I started performing at Renaissance festivals or possibly

Andrew McKee and I worked our first arrangement for the song in 2000 for the Brobdingnagian Bards album Gullible’s Travels. It was later re-recorded with a better version for A Faire to Remember. It stands out largely because of Andrew’s recorder solo. It’s beautiful. But it’s also just a gorgeous song, covered by many people.

One of my favorite moments for this song happened on my Celtic Invasion of the Highlands of Scotland in 2013. We were staying in Aviemore, Scotland in the Highlands. I remember walking through the gift shop, when I heard Andrew’s unmistakeable recorder playing. My mind nearly exploded as I searched the shop for the origins of the sound.

I found a small glass cabinet that had jewelry in it. Gorgeous jewelry made of compressed heather. There were necklaces, earrings, pendants and brooches. It was just fantastic.

Then there was like a TARDIS in my brain. It flashed back to an email I had received years earlier. A company asked me if they could use our recording in their shop. So there it was the Brobdingnagian Bards, or rather Andrew McKee, because it was really just the recorder part, on repeat in Scotland.

You can check out the company at

In the summer of 2009, I worked out a new arrangement of the song for my CD, The Bridge. That version also inspired a lot of people. It’s one of my favorite songs on the album.

I love this song, but one of the things that made me so proud about performing this song is hearing my own improvement in singing. It’s one of those songs that as I got better, I developed a better ability to phrase things in how it’s sung. It makes me feel really good about my own vocal abilities.

24:05 - “Wild Mountain Thyme” by Marc Gunn from The Bridge

Pub Songs & Stories was produced by Marc Gunn. The show is edited by Mitchell Petersen with graphics by Miranda Nelson Designs. You can subscribe and listen wherever you find podcasts. You can also subscribe to my mailing list. You will get regular updates of new music, podcasts, special offers, and you’ll get 21 songs for free. Welcome to the pub at!

#coastband #wildmountainthyme #oceanos #pubsongs #heathergems