In the late 1800's, the part of Manchester in which the pub now stands - was known as "Little Ireland", due in the main to the large numbers of Irish immigrant workers living there. However, the area was also home to extreme poverty and terrible hardship and quickly came to be synonymous with all the evils and squalor of unregulated industrialisation for Manchester had by then became notorious for.
It was in this charnel house of blood, sweat tears and tragedy that the pub we today know as the Lass O' Gowrie was born.
Legend has it that the original landlord of the pub was not an Irishman, but a proud, homesick Scotsman who named the pub in honour of his favourite poem - 'the Lass O'Gowrie' written by the celebrated Scottish poet Lady Carolina Nairne.
Born on 16 August 1766 in Gask, Perthshire, Lady Carolina quickly became known as the "Flower of Strathearn" because of her beauty. Both her father and grandfather had joined Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 1745 Jacobite Uprising and she herself had been named after the Young Pretender (Carolina being the feminine form of Charles), so it is not perhaps surprising that many of her songs were sympathetic to the Jacobite cause.
In those days it was not appropriate for women of her social standing to publish poetry and so for a long time they were published under the pen-name of Mrs Bogan of Bogan. Even after marrying her second cousin, Major William Nairne in 1806, she kept her writing secret from him too! They had a son, born in 1808, when she was aged 43. In 1824, following a campaign by Sir Walter Scott, peerages and titles which had been forfeited as a result of the Jacobite Uprising were restored and so Caroline became Lady Nairne.
Like Robert Burns and James Hogg, Lady Nairne collected old folk tunes and modified or put her own words to them. She showed a love of the countryside in such songs as "The Rowan Tree" and "The Pentland Hills." Her poem "The Auld House" is about her birthplace in Gask and she showed her compassion in songs such as "Caller Herring".
The Lass O'Gowrie also briefly enjoyed a distinguished place in military history as the Regimental Quick March of the 70th Regiment of Foot - a Regiment which in 1881 became 2nd Battalion The East Surrey Regiment. The song was founded on an older ballad by William Reid of Glasgow, called Kate O'Gowrie. The melody was known as "Loch Eroch Side" and was taken from "O'er Young to Marry Yet" in 1757. Once more, the actual song, 'The Lass O'Gowrie' was written by the once famous poetess and songwriter, Lady Carolina Nairne.
Regimental history does not record when the Seventieth adopted 'Lass O'Gowrie' as the Regimental March. However, when considering the music for the Regimental quick step, it would be reasonable to assume that "the Lass O'Gowrie" was chosen as the march of the 70th Regiment of Foot, there being a geographical connection by way of Gowrie being an area of Perthshire.
Today, whether or not "the lass" celebrated within the poem was real or figment, remains open to question. We just like to think of her as a hardy, honest natural beauty - and over one-hundred years later are proud to continue to champion the good name of this great pub.