“Riding on a Load of Hay” is a West Kerry polka, and was in the repertoire of Kerry fiddler Denis Murphy (1910-1974). It is pretty clearly a polka adaptation of the Scottish strathspey “Miss Ramsay of Barnton” (c. 1884). This title probably refers to Betty Hamilton (1770-1809), the wife of William Ramsay of Barnton. He was a wealthy man who was a dominant figure in one of Edinburgh’s two private banks and a very substantial shareholder in the Royal Bank of Scotland. In 1781 Ramsay bought the estate of Barnton and Cramond Regis, which is the grounds of what is now Davidson’s Mains Park. He ended up demolishing the old house and built a grander place on the site. Cramond Regis, the old name for the area, was an ancient hunting seat of Scotland’s kings. How the tune acquired this new title, and just what the title refers to is not yet clear.
Riding on a Load of Hay, (Jean-Michel Assa)