Quinelan and the Monsters – A Portsoy Fairy Tale by Jack Mair

Quinelan and the Monsters by Jack Mair 





Lesleigh Munro (now Bowie) thought he could write a fairy story and so John A. Mair (Jack) wrote this super wee story about monsters coming to Portsoy using characters named after well-known features in and around the town:

Quinelan (Quinelan Bay)







Wally Green (Green near the former old Mill)






Craig Duff (Rock between Portsoy Links and the new harbour)







Glenglassaugh (Distillery near Sandend)








Artist John A. Stewart did the fabulous drawings and rumour goes that the ones of the heroes in the story were based on real life town characters, like John Watson, who was a brilliant guitarist.




I enjoy walking along Portsoy’s west braes and particularly love Quinelan Bay with its bonny Breeks and Needle rock formations.

One day I decided to write a song about Jack’s Quinelan and the Monsters story, along with a little tune, and recently used them as part of my traditional music teaching with the children of Portsoy Primary School year 5/6 this past school term. They  all learned to play the Quinelan tune on penny whistle and demonstrated that at the Children’s Concert on the Friday of the Boat Festival.

I particularly wanted to play John Watson’s guitar: after his passing away it was lovingly restored by my husband, Alan, and is used by me on a daily basis.


The Quinelan Song and Tune







Chorus:  Quinelan Bay, West Braes Way

                  Every day Dolphins play

                  Quinelan Bay, West Braes Way

                  Every day Dolphins play





1 Down in Quinelan Bay, Bonnie Quinelan Bay

In a little cave up West Braes Way

Fairy Quinelan sits in the fading light

Of the setting sun at night



2 Wally Green, who lived in a tiny hut,

Watched the water and the Mill wheel turn

At Boyne Castle, now that the Mill has shut,

He’s seen fishing in Boyne Burn




3 When Glen Glassaugh had plenty wind in his sails

For the Cup and Saucer Windmill






He stole barley then – hear his windy wails:

Old Glen has a Whisky still!



4 Fairy Quinelan is all the Fishermen’s friend

On the Doonie shines his lantern light

Ships would run aground if he didn’t send

This bright warning light at night



5 Monsters cut the ropes, overturned the boats

Clearly something needed to be done

‘Come and help us out,’ cried the fishermen

Quinelan has a cunning plan!



6 Whisky water, you say? We’ll ask Wally Green

And Glen Glassaugh: Monsters like a dram!

At the Ritchies the beasts drink but once a year

With the farmers we’ll build a dam!



7 Glen made whisky then, and a dam was built

All the fishermen rubbed their hands with glee

Loch Soy sluice gates would hold the whisky back

But when open it flows to sea . . .



8 All at sea, Craig Duff sniffed with nosy nose

Smelling monsters without feeling fear

From his ‘Tansy’ boat he would signal those

Who were waiting on the pier


9 Wally Green and Glen, ready at Loch Soy,

Were in charge to open sluice gates there

Whisky filled the Burn – such a brilliant ploy! –

For the monsters a monster-share



10 While the Whisky flowed all the Fairies watched

Thirsty, greedy monsters drink their fill

It was working well, this little plan they’d hatched:

Whisky made the monsters ill!



11 Dolphins came to help, chased the monsters away

All the toon folk cheered and danced with joy

Fairy Quinelan sits in his Quinelan Bay

Watching o’er us in Portsoy


12 Fairy Quinelan sits in his Quinelan Bay

Near his little cave up West Braes Way

In the setting sun Portsoy Dolphins play








Paulina Smith-Honig, February 2013




Lesleigh’s mum, Helen asked me to collaborate with her for the 4th Haal, resulting in a children’s workshop in the Old McBain Bakery, using my song along with props, Helen’s fabulous gift for mime with fabrics and narration by her friend Fiona Williams.

Musicians were: Gillian Smith (flute and guitar), Keirran (guitar)  and Jake Smith, also guitar (pictured)




quinelan short video by dianne mcbain


The Portsoy Players did a lovely performance of the story during the Boat Festival with the actors and some of the pupils of Portsoy Primary School class 5/6 singing the chorus and a verse of the song before each related part of narration that was acted out by the drama group with some actions and mime.

Two of my pupils, Emma-Jay Bruce and Grant Drummond, entertained the audience by playing the Quinelan Tune on whistle before and after the performances. You can see them on either side of me in the photograph.



Jack and Helen Mair attended the 2nd performance on Sunday afternoon, which gave everyone a real boost.


Jack signed my Quinelan booklet for me, and also some of the ones the children had with them.



I think it’s nice that Jack’s story is reaching such a wide audience. Jack modestly says,’ it’s just a wee story,’ but that story is still bringing pleasure to many, who are hoping he’ll write a sequel!


Quinelan and the Monsters – Portsoy Players




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