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Songs of Leo Coyle

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For any enquiries about ClydeBorn, email to

Sleeve notes from ClydeBorn CD.

This CD is a result of an upgrading from a tape recorded in 1995 by my son and daughter. Their selection of eight of the numerous songs I have written. The tape recording was a gift from them to me on my 70th birthday. It was never intended to be a professional recording. It was achieved in one recorded session in Johnnie Russell's attic in Old Kilpatrick. The original tape, though never commercially distributed, has nevertheless been widely appreciated, not only in Scotland but also in countries all over the world. 

The content of the songs encompass the experiences of a generation of Clydebank people, their tragedies, their fears, their love of family and their beautiful country, and most of all their humour which helped them overcome the destruction of the town during the war, the betrayal of their way of life with the closure of the shipyards and factories and their enduring optimism which rebuilt their town and even today guides them in restructuring their lives and communities.

The original tape and the CD are somewhat unique since they are totally a family production. I wrote the songs, Eddie and Leanne my son and daughter provide the vocals and dual guitar accompaniment. No special sound affects have been used to enhance the production of the CD.

I was indebted to Johnnie Russell for his assistance in the original recording and my dear friend Gerry Macgregor for his faith in our work and in the production of the CD. Also Mary Coyle, my daughter-in-law, for the conception and promotion of the initial idea.



Words and music by Leo Coyle

A nostalgic song reflecting on the situation in the 1930s when a proud town internationally famous for its ship building and manufacturing prowess was brought to its knees by a depression creating mass unemployment, poverty and often despair. The rusting hull of the Queen Mary towered over the town hall and the great sprawling Singer factory reduced to part-time work.

The beautiful back drop of the Old Kilpatrick hills became a magnet and a salvation for many, an escape from their depression; the solitude of the five lochs nestling in the hills and the majestic views of the Clyde valley energised their spirit to fight for their right to work. A big fire was lit on the Craigallion shore. It burned constantly for many years. It became an open air forum for debate, which honed the debating ability of many of the Scottish socialist pioneers. The hills remain. The beauty of the lochs and views of the Clyde valley are indestructible, but the age of the car has its downside as this song relates.


Words by Leo Coyle, music - traditional

I, for a time worked as a maintenance fitter serving the courageous men who drove many miles of tunnels through the granite mountains in the creation of the Loch Sloy Hydro-Electric Scheme. On the wall of the power station at Inveruglas, a plaque commemorates the twenty two men who lost their lives on the project. The song is a descriptive tribute to their back breaking toil and sacrifice.


Words and music by Leo Coyle 

A simple love song written to my wife, who, to my great sorrow passed on at an early age. The song was penned sitting on a rock near Ardmore point at sunset, when beauty abounds. Her song lives on.


Words by Leo Coyle, music - traditional

New York had the Bronx, Dublin its Coomb, Glasgow its Gorbals, we had our Holy City. Why  "The Holy City"? A series of terraced four story, white, flat roofed tenement buildings, built circular on a high hill. When approached from the west, it resembled Jerusalem. Hence the name "The Holy City". In the early 1930s the aftermath of the famous 1920s rent strikes in Clydebank, saw many tenants still owing arrears of rent which they could not afford to pay due to mass unemployment. The song recalls the community's indignation and struggle to prevent these poor people being evicted, their furniture and family thrown out into the street, homeless. Moonlights were common - secret, late night removals to other properties in an attempt to evade eviction.

In March 1941 the Holy City suffered one of the most savage carpet-bombing raids in Britain during the 2nd World War. Most of the tenements were reduced to smouldering rubble. The death and injury rate was horrendous. The song reflects, with a common defiant humour, the tenacity and determination of the Holy City folk to rebuild their lives and their town.


Words by Leo Coyle, music - traditional 

The pendulum of full employment has haunted the Clyde for generations. The swing to insecurity is constant, from the memories of poverty in the hungry 30s to the great battle to save our shipyards in the 1970s the spectre of the "Broo Queue" keeps reappearing. This song is a reflection of this insecurity and the determination to overcome it.


Words by Leo Coyle, music - traditional

Much has been written in Scottish folk music and rightly so about Culloden, the highland clearances etc., but little about the modern slow but constant deliberate rape of our native land; the failure to support our indigenous industry, the dependence of inward investment which comes and goes when pastures more profitable beckon have led to massive depopulation, the fisheries in decline, the mining industry decimated, our local rail transport sold on the altar of profit. The song is a rallying call to the Scottish people to reverse the trend.


Words and music by Leo Coyle

The song is metaphoric since the Wild Rose is my daughter, who has been to hell and back as a result of what then was a little known and understood illness "Post Natal Depression". I am deeply proud of not only her recovery but also of her determination to support those who have like problems. No one in my opinion more deserves a song in her honour. The "twa bonnie birds" are metaphorically her two wonderful children. On this CD she sings solo her own song.


Words by Leo Coyle, music by Leanne

This song was added to the CD in 2009. It was not written at the time of the original recording. The day my dad passed away he asked me not to forget this song. He was particularly proud of it as he wrote the lyrics and then asked me to compose the melody. It is the only song we ever wrote together. As well as a very personal song to me concerning my struggle with mental health problems, it's also a tribute to the organisation "Stepping Stones", and the wonderful help and support that they give to thousands who are experiencing loneliness, isolation, feelings of hopelessness and psychological problems. I dedicate this song to my dad, who was best friend, mentor and incredible father to both my brother Eddie and myself. He is with us always.

Love Leanne


Words by Leo Coyle, music - traditional

Much has been written and sung in praise of the Clyde and the great ships built there, but little written or sung are about the hellish conditions enduring by the workers who built them. Since I served my time in the shipyards, I lived with the unique humour and tenacity of the Clyde shipyard worker to overcome and survive in spite of so many betrayals. The song is self explanatory and is supported by guitar accompaniment that echoes the tragedy of the loss of a proud industry.


To all who find interest or pleasure from this rather unique CD I thank you for your interest.

Yours in folk,

Leo Coyle

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