Skipinnish The Clearances Again</p>
<p>modern day clearances HPMA

The protest song from ‘The Clearances Again’ by Donald Francis MacNeil and Skipinnish is available to purchase by clicking above

The beautifully crafted and highly evocative song ‘The Clearances Again’ by Donald Francis MacNeil and Skipinnish is now available to purchase.

The song has been written and recorded in a collaboration between fishermen and musicians to highlight the plight of coastal communities if Scottish Government plans for Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) go ahead.

Campaigners have been asking all islanders and people living in mainland coastal communities to take part in the consultation process which is due to close on Monday 17 April 2023.

Under the Bute House Agreement, which was made between the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Scottish Green Party, it was pledged by the SNP that 10% of Scottish waters would be given over to HPMAs.

Today a protest song aiming to scupper Scottish Government plans to ban inshore fishing and all marine activities and devastate communities has been released by one of Scotland’s biggest trad bands Skipinnish.

They have teamed up with 64-year-old inshore fisherman, Donald Francis (DF) MacNeil, who has made his recording debut to help save coastal communities with the song also being performed live for the first time in Aberdeen next month.

As the government’s public consultation on the Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) enters its final stage, the band’s co-founder and fisherman Angus MacPhail has penned ‘The Clearances Again’ to stand against the plans and give voice to the thousands of people and numerous groups across Scotland that have spoken out strongly against the government’s proposals.

If the Government’s plans go ahead, it will mean over a tenth of Scotland’s waters will be under HPMA status by 2026, which will mean no fishing by any method will be allowed anywhere within these marine reserves.

This would mean Scotland’s island and coastal communities, where fishing and marine activities are critical for the local economies, will be devastated as centuries old industries will be forced to close and small inshore fishing boats will be permanently tied up in harbours and ports.

Angered by the proposals, Angus MacPhail wrote The Clearances Again fearing they will cause economic, social and cultural devastation. The song is written from the perspective of his good friend Donald Francis (DF) MacNeil from the Isle of Vatersay in the Western Isles.  DF is a lifelong fisherman who has fished around Mingulay and the islands to the south of the Isle of Barra his whole life.  This area, and with-it DF’s livelihood is potentially a prime target for closing down.  The song has now been recorded by Skipinnish featuring lead vocal by DF who sings the emotive and powerful lyrics.

The Song is available to purchase by clicking here or on the photo above.

The Clearances Again – lyrics


Farewell to the cliffs of Mingulay

And the shores of the Sandray Sound

And the glow of a boat well laden

Steaming north when you’re homeward bound.


Donald Francis MacNeil is my name,

I’m a fisherman through to the bone.

I have lived by the creel and the wave

To provide for a family and home.

Generations before me have followed

The toil and the call of the seas

But the soul will be torn from our future

And the heart from the Hebrides.


I have hauled through the stacks and the arches

And learned from the old in my youth.

Ten thousand seabirds my chorus

The sea is my way and my truth.

At one with the ocean and nature,

The world above and below,

The harvest of harmonies circle

But my life and my living must go

For the fashions of urban ideals

Where passions of ignorance play

To the lies of political deals –

No care for the lives in their way.


My people, my language, my Island

And the rights that our forefathers won

To remain on the soil of our homeland

By the sweep of a pen will be gone –

A wrecking ball through our existence;

Tradition and culture condemned

At the hands of the arrogant stranger –

The Clearances over again.


But we’ll join with the kin of our coastline

From Ness to the Holy Isle.

Faceless grey suits from the cities,

They will not play games with our lives.

My song marks a fight for survival

A Mayday call we cry.

We will stand for the rights of our children.

We will not let our islands die.

© Skipinnish 2023

The Clearances Again – artists

This song is performed by Donald Francis MacNeil with Skipinnish. It also features the voices of Rachel Walker and children from Castlebay School on Barra.

It was recorded and co-produced by Ross Saunders at GloWorm Studios with additions by Mick MacNeil on Barra and Pete Fletcher on Lewis.

A video accompanying the song will also be released on Friday. It was filmed and produced by Stephen Kearney of Little Day Productions.

Click here for more information about Skipinnish.

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