Wayfaring Strangers

The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia

Second Edition

By Fiona Ritchie, Doug Orr

Foreword by Dolly Parton; with a new afterword by the authors

Approx. 384 pp., 8.5 x 11, 64 color plates, 60 halftones, 7 maps, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6418-7
    Published: August 2021
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6627-3
    Published: August 2021
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6319-5
    Published: August 2021

Buy this Book

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From the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries, a steady stream of Scots migrated to Ulster and eventually onward across the Atlantic to resettle in the United States. Many of these Scots-Irish immigrants made their way into the mountains of the southern Appalachian region. They brought with them a wealth of traditional ballads and tunes from the British Isles and Ireland, a carrying stream that merged with sounds and songs of English, German, Welsh, African American, French, and Cherokee origin. Their enduring legacy of music flows today from Appalachia back to Ireland and Scotland and around the globe. Ritchie and Orr guide readers on a musical voyage across oceans, linking people and songs through centuries of adaptation and change.

About the Authors

Fiona Ritchie MBE is the founder, producer, and host of National Public Radio's The Thistle & Shamrock and an inductee into the Folk DJ Hall of Fame. Her books include The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Celtic Music and Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia.
For more information about Fiona Ritchie, visit the Author Page.

Doug Orr is president emeritus of Warren Wilson College, where he founded the Swannanoa Gathering music workshops. His books include The North Carolina Atlas: Portrait for a New Century and Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia.
For more information about Doug Orr, visit the Author Page.


"Essential.... A gorgeous gift book."—New York Times Book Review

“Ritchie and Orr strike all the right chords in this pleasantly tuneful survey.”—Publishers Weekly

"A story remarkable for its breadth and depth, conveying the drama of Scottish emigration via Ulster to Appalachia, by a people who clung to the music and song they held dear, and bequeathed it to America. It is for us to keep our eyes and ears open to see how this river carries on."—Scottish Life Magazine

"If you love Appalachian music; if you're Scots-Irish and wonder about your roots; if you're curious about the words and traditions of the music and how many miles and years the songs have traveled to get here, this handsome book is your most trusted servant, your indispensable encyclopedia and your entertaining Bible."—Charlotte Observer

"Songs can take us on extraordinary journeys. They respect neither border nor time, and by following them, we can chart the movement of generations of people. In Wayfaring Strangers, Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr take a long look at this story using Scottish songs as their compass. It's a fascinating and often surprising ride."—Cerys Matthews MBE, Welsh folksinger, author, and broadcaster

"Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr . . . are the perfect authors to trace the journey this music has made and to paint the picture of the living, breathing stream that it is."—Kathy Mattea, singer-songwriter and teacher