The Dark Island

Nostalgic Scottish Music

Leaving Loch Maddy, North Uist. Looking back towards the Dark Island

It’s a tune every Scottish accordion player learns and probably the most widely requested Scottish music tune I ever get. In my experience, it’s also the highest earning tune in my repertoire back when we were busking or playing in bars. Many a time I would get asked at the end of a gig in a bar to play the Dark Island. Usually by an older person, quite emotional after a few drinks and they would often hand us a tenner or a twenty afterwards with a tear in their eye. “That’s braw son…just braw”.

It’s a tune soaked in nostalgia for lots of people.

I recall playing on the St.Clair ferry from Aberdeen to Shetland one night, many years ago. Myself and my fiddler pal Bill Edwards were asked to play it for a guy after our show. He handed us £120. (£60 each.) For a few minutes playing, that was a lot of money for us back then and still would be today.

I visited Benbecula last year on a camping trip and used the photos I took during the week to make a video using the track from my album. (A Celtic voice)

The dark island is one of the first tunes I practised when I picked up the accordion.

I remember my dad trying to play it, it was one of the 3 tunes he could still remember from playing when he was a teenager.

The Dark island Video

Here’s my latest YouTube video of the Dark Island with photos from Benbecula, Eriskay, Berneray, North and South Uist and below is one of my previous videos of the same tune done live, one with Sandy Mathers on fiddle, recorded in front of my pizza oven.

It’s funny how a tune can creep up on you. I didn’t realise I played it so much.

The Dark Island – A Celtic Voice
Sandy Mathers & Charlie Abel

The forecasting stone outside a shop near Berneray is indicative of the type of weather you can expect around the Dark Island. You won’t see many trees either

The Forecasting stone