Gaelic Literature of the Isle of Skye: an annotated  bibliography   

 

Traditional anonymous poetry and song:  Individual items: O

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Och nan och is och eire’.  See: ‘Cuchulann ‘s a Mhac’ in the Kennedy-Fraser Collection (Songs of the Hebrides 2)

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Och, och an nochd, ‘s mi ‘n Cùl-nan-cnoc

 

Old Skye Tales.  William MacKenzie.  Glasgow: Alex. MacLaren and Sons, 1934, pp. 63-65.

 

A poignant lament composed by a pupil of William Mackenzie in memory of his schoolmates who were killed in the First World War.  Eleven quatrains.

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Och Ochan ‘s mi dìreadh’.  See: ‘Caoidh an Eich-uisge’ in the Frances Tolmie Collection I

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‘O chòin! mo chailin ‘s mo shùil as do dhéigh’.  See: ‘Mo shùil a’ d’ dhéigh

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‘O chruinneag ‘s tu chruinneag’.  See: ‘Cruinneag na buaile’ in the Johan MacInnes Collection

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Oganaich dhuinn a dhìreas am bealach’.  See: ‘Oran do Phrionnsa Teàrlach

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Oganaich na chuir thu cùl rium’.  See: The Catriona Dhùghlas Collection

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An t-Og Uasal’.  See: The Johan MacInnes Collection

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‘O! gur h-é mistha air mo leònadh’.  See: ‘Cumha Bantraich’ in the Frances Tolmie Collection I

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‘O hi, ibh o!’.   See: The Frances Tolmie Collection II

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‘O-! a leinibh, !’  See: ‘Oran Tàladh an Eich-uisge’ in the Frances Tolmie Collection II

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 ‘An t-oighròg

 

i     An t-Oranaiche.  Edited by Gilleasbuig Mac-na-Ceardadh.  Glasgow: Archibald Sinclair, 1879, pp. 464-464.

 

ii   An Gaidheal, 22 (1926-1927), 169.

 

iii   Gaelic Songs of Skye.  Cairistìona Mhàrtainn.  Taigh na Teud: An t-Eilein Sgitheanach, 2001, p. 81.

 

The young heir in question is of Dunvegan.  Textually, the first two versions are identical, with a mainly vocable refrain and six four-line verses beginning with ‘Oighròig á Dunbheagain / Nam pìoban ‘s nam feadan’.  The second version

has a tune in tonic sol-fa notation which does not appear to fit the verses very well.  The third version has six four-line verses and a mostly vocable refrain beginning ‘O hi ‘s na hi -o’.  Its words and tune are from Seònag NicLeòid.

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‘Oisein ri Mhàthair’.  See: ‘Comhairl’ Oisein dhaMhàthair’ in the Frances Tolmie Collection I

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‘O Mhic Choinnich na stròl farsuinn’.  See: ‘Tàladh Choinnich Oig

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Oran a rinneadh do dh William Brathair Mhic Leod na Hearradh

 

i     Comh-chruinneachidh Orannaigh Gaidhealach.  Le Raonuill MacDomhnuill.  [Eigg Collection].  Duneidiunn: Walter Ruddiman, 1776, dd. 315-318.

 

ii    TGSI, 26 (1904-1907), 235-236.

 

The heading here given is the title of this poem as it appears in the first version, that in the Eigg Collection.  The second version, whose source is the Rev. A.MacLean Sinclair, is entitled ‘Oran do Ruairidh Mor Mac-Leoid, Thriath

Dhunbheagain’.  There is a possibility that the Eigg Collection was MacLean Sinclair’s source; but if it was, he has extensively interfered with its text.  There is an apparent discrepancy concerning the identity of the poem’s subject

in the Eigg Collection:  the title suggesting that it was William, ninth Chief of MacLeod, and internal evidence suggesting that it was not William.  If MacLean Sinclair was using the Eigg Collection as his source he may have been

responding to this discrepancy by making the subject of his version Ruairidh Mór.

 

The Eigg Collection version has twenty-eight couplets, beginning with ‘Soraidh na dha le durach uam’.  The MacLean Sinclair version has twenty two couplets, beginning with ‘Soraidh no dhà le dùrachd bhuam’.

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Oran an Eich-Uisge’.  See: ‘Cumha an Eich-Uisge’ in the Frances Tolmie Collection I

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Oran an Eireannaich

 

An Gaidheal, 57 (1962), 76-77.

 

From Calum Camshron’s article ‘Eilean Shòthaidh’ (An Gaidheal, 57:75-77.  He writes that he never heard this song sung anywhere else but on Soay.  It tells of a ship wrecked off the island, which event the islanders turned to their

own advantage.  There are three four-line verses, beginning with ‘Aig toiseach a’ gheamhraidh … ‘, in an amhran metre.

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Oran an Uachdarain

 

i     Songs and Hymns of the Scottish Highlands.  Edited by L. MacBean.  Edinburgh: MacLachlan and Stewart, 1888, No. 12.

 

ii    Orain an Eilein: Gaelic Songs of Skye.  Cairistiona Mhàrtainn.  An t-Eilean Sgitheanach: Taigh na Teud, 2001, p. 86.

 

Apparently composed to one of the MacDonalds of Sleat, wishing for his safe return home.  The first version has a vocable refrain and eight quatrains, beginning with ‘Gur mise tha trom airtneulach’.  It is a continuation song, where the second couplet of a quatrain forms the first couplet of the following quatrain.

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Oran Arabhaig’.  See: The Frances Tolmie Collection II

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Oran Chlann Domhnuill nan Eilean’.  See: ‘Oran do Throtornish

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Oran do Dhomhnull Gorm’.  See: The Frances Tolmie Collection II

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‘Oran do Dho’null Mac-Ionmhuinn, a chaidh bhàthadh

 

Co-chruinneachadh de dh’ Orain agus de Luinneagaibh Thaghta Ghae’lach.  Le P.  MacPharlain.  Dun-Eudainn: T. Stiubhart, 1813, dd. 164-166.

 

A fine strophic lament for a MacKinnon of Sleat man drowned at sea.  Fifteen three-line stanzas beginning with ‘Gur mistha fo mhulad’.

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Oran do Ghilleasbuig Og a H-eisgeir’.  See: The Frances Tolmie Collection II

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Oran do Mhac-Fhionghain an t-Stratha

 

Comhchruinneachadh Ghlinn-a-Bhàird.  Edited by the Rev. A. MacLean Sinclair.  Charlottetown, P.E. Island: G. Herbert Haszard, 1890, pp. 372-373.

 

There is no internal evidence in this poem to support the title’s assertion that it was composed to a MacKinnon of Strath.  There ar eight four-line stanzas, beginning with ‘ ‘Fhir ud shiùbhlas an rod’, in a strophic metre.

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Oran do Mhac-Griogair o Ruadh-Shruth’.   See: The Frances Tolmie Collection II

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Oran do Mhac-Iain-‘Ic-Sheumais’.  See: The Frances Tolmie Collection II

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Oran do MhacLeòid Dhunbheagain

 

The MacDonald Collection of Gaelic Poetry.  Edited by the Revs. A. and A. MacDonald.  Inverness: Northern Counties, 1911, p. 177.

 

The editors write on p.xxxi that evidence from the manuscript from which this poem was copied indicates that it was composed to John MacLeod IV of Dunvegan, who died in 1390.  There are twenty-three lines, beginning with ‘Bha mi m’ dhùsgadh ‘s am chaithris’, in three stanzas of nine, seven and seven lines.

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Oran do Phrionnsa Teàrlach

 

i      Sàr=Obair nam Bàrd Gaelach.  Edited by John MacKenzie.  Edinburgh: MacLachlan and Stewart, 1872 (1st ed. 1841), p. 373.

 

ii    MacDonald Bards from Mediaeval Times.  Keith Norman MacDonald.  Edinburgh: Norman MacLeod, 1900, pp. 117-118.

 

iii   A’ Choisir-Chiùil.  Paisley: J. & R. Parlane, n.d., No. 48.

 

iv   Gaelic Folksongs of the Isles of the West.  Edited by Father John MacMillan.  Vol. 1.  London: Boosey & Co., 1930, pp. 22-29.

 

This song’s connection with Skye is a tenuous one.  In a note to the first version, John MacKenzie writes that the oldest MS version of it in his possession has the title ‘Miss Flora MacDonald’s Lament for Prince Charles’.  This Sàr-Obair version has six four-line stanzas, beginning with ‘Shiubhlainn moch leat, shiubhlainn ana-moch’.  It has a mainly vocable refrain.

 

Keith Norman MacDonald got the second version from a native of Kilmaluag in Skye, who had learnt it as a child from an old man of the district.  There are three stanzas, beginning with ‘Fhir sin tha thall, ‘an tìr-nan-Athaichean’ and a

short vocable refrain quite different from that of the Sàr-Obair version.  The third version has a rather doubtful attribution to Alexander MacLeod of Triaslan.  This version’s refrain is identical to that of the Sàr-Obair version.  It has, with some minor variations, stanzas two to six of that version, beginning with ‘Theàrlaich òig a’ chuailein chiataich’.  The tune is given in tonic-solfa notation.

 

The fourth version is from North Uist and is described as ‘Flora MacDonald’s Song’.  There are five stanzas, beginning with ‘Oganaich dhuinn d dhìreas am bealach’ and a mainly vocable refrain.

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‘Oran do Ruairidh Mor Mac-Leoid, Thriath Dhun-bheagain’.  See: Oran a rinneadh do dh William Brathair Mhic Leod na Hearradh

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Oran do Throtornish

 

i     Orain Nuadh Ghaeleach.  Domhnul MacLeoid.  Inbhirnis: Eoin Young, 1811, dd. 210-213.

 

ii    Co-chruinneach dh’ Orain Thaghte Ghaeleach.  Donncha Mac Intoisich.  Edinburgh: John Elder, 1831, pp. 139-142.

 

iii   Teachdaire Ur Gaidhealach, 3 (Ceud Mhìos an Earraich, 1836), 69-70.

 

iv   Filidh nam Beann : the Gaelic Songster.  Glasgow: Archibald Sinclair, n.d., pp. 21-23.

 

v    Celtic Magazine, 8 (1882-1883), 107-108.

 

vi   Comhchruinneachadh Ghlinn-a-Bhàird.  Edited by the Rev. A. MacLean Sinclair.  Charlottetown, P.E. Island: G. Herbert Haszard, 1890, pp. 20-23.

 

This begins as a song in praise of Trotternish and then develops into a song in praise of ‘Clann Domhnaill nan Eilean’, and indeed all the versions except the first are entitled ‘Oran Chlann Domhnaill nan Eilean’. 

 

The six versions here listed might be said to represent three basic versions.  The first and second versions are clearly independent ones.  I suspect that the third version might be derived from the second, but there are sufficient variations

for it to be regarded as an independent version.  Apart from the omission of one stanza and a few minor variations, the fourth version has clearly been derived from the third.  The fifth and sixth versions have been derived from the fourth.

 

The first version is anonymous.  The second version may have been composed by the Perthshire poetess, Mairearad Ghobha (see: TGSI, 17:126-170), but I think that if she was the source it is more likely that she got it from oral tradition.  The third and fourth versions are anonymous.  The fifth version is ascribed to Alasdair Buidhe MacIomhair of Gairloch, said to have composed it in appreciation of the hospitality he received from Lord MacDonald at Armadale

Castle.  The sixth version is also ascribed to Alasdair Buidhe.  I believe the balance of probability to be in favour of the song having been composed by an unknown Skye poet.

 

The metre is amhran.  The first version has nine stanzas, beginning with ‘Ciad soghraidh bhuam thar m’ eolas’.  All other versions have the opening line ‘Beir soraidh uam gu m’ eòlas’.  Versions two and three have eleven stanzas

and versions four, five and six have ten.

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‘Oran Gaoil, le ban-tighearn de theaghlach Shleibhte

 

The MacDonald Collection of Gaelic Poetry.  Edited by the Revs. A. and A. MacDonald.  Inverness: Northern Counties, 1911, pp. 99-100.

 

The editors note (p. xxi) that this love song was, according to tradition,  composed by a woman of the Sleat family to her sailor lover.  There are three eight-line stanzas and a refrain beginning with ‘Ho nan tigeadh / Mo Robairneach gaolach.

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Oran Ionndrainn’.  See: The Frances Tolmie Collection II

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Oran Leannan-sìdhe’.  See: The Annie Arnott Collection

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Oran Molaidh do dh’ Uisdean Domhnullach, Fear Mhoghustot ‘s an Eilein Sgiathanach’

 

The MacDonald Collection of Gaelic Poetry.  Edited by the Revs. A. and A. MacDonald.  Inverness: Northern Counties, 1911, pp. 126-128.

 

The subject of this elegy is Hugh Peter MacDonald of Monkstadt in Skye, son of Major Alexander MacDonald of Lochcarron and Monkstadt and grandson of the Rev. Hugh MacDonald (1703-1756) of Portree.  While it appears as a traditional elegy, I suspect that it may have an underlying satirical note, particularly in the final stanza.  There are ten eight-line stanzas, beginning with ‘Deoch-slainte Mhr. Uisdean’, in an irregular amhran metre.

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Oran Mór Sgoirebreac

 

i     Gairm, 8 (An Samhradh 1954), 335-337.

 

ii    John MacInnes.  ‘Personal names in a Gaelic song: “Oran Mór Sgorabreac” ‘.  Scottish Studies, 6 (1962), 235-243.

 

iii   TGSI, 49 (1974-1976), 387-388.

 

iv   Tocher, 39 (Spring 1985), 104-107.

 

The first, third and fourth versions are in fact one single version from the poet Sorley MacLean and his brother John.  Their sources were their grandmother Mary Matheson and their aunt Peggie MacLean.  The text of the second version, incorporated in Dr. MacInnes’ article, was taken down in 1955 from Mrs. Kate Beaton of Woodend, Portree.  Her version is very similar to the MacLeans’ one.

 

The subject of the song would appear to be a Nicolson of Scorrybreck, and the occasion of its composition his marriage in the late seventeenth century to a sister of Iain Garbh MacLeod of Raasay.  The song is in continuation form, with the second line of a couplet being repeated as the first line of the next within each verse-paragraph..  The MacLeans’ version has thirty lines, beginning with ‘Ciad soraidh bhuam fhìn gu m’ eòlas’, and a vocable refrain.  Mrs. Beaton’s version has forty lines.

 

The second and fourth versions have English translations.  The first and fourth versions give the tune in staff notation.

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Oran mu ‘n Ghruagaich’.  See: The Frances Tolmie Collection II

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Oran mu ‘n Ghruagaich-mhara.   See: The Frances Tolmie Collection II

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Oran na Feannaig

 

Puirt-a-Beul: Mouth-Tunes.  Edited by Keith Norman MacDonald.  Reprinted from the Oban Times, 1901, pp. 35-36.

 

Dr. MacDonald writes that this is “a very ancient Skye song, in the form of a dialogue, like ‘Oran na Comhachaig’, or the song of the owl …”.  I think, however that ‘Oran na Feannaig’ is probably one of a number of eighteenth and early nineteenth century songs influenced by ‘Oran na Comhachaig’ (see: TGSG, 5:122-171).

 

There are three eight-line stanzas, beginning with ‘Cheud latha dhe na bhliadhna’, and a short refrain.

 

Niall MacLeòid composed his ‘An Seann Fhleasgach’ upon the model of ‘Oran na Feannaig’.  A late friend of mine, a native of Glendale in Skye, recited to me a fragment of an unpublished poem by Niall’s nephew, the late Duncan

MacDonald, which sounded very similar to his uncle’s song.  In Duncan’s song the dialogue between the poet and the crow is set in Austria, where he worked

for a time.

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Oran na Mna-Sìth’.  See: ‘Tàladh Mhic Leòid

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Oran Tàlaidh an Eich-uisge’.  See: The Frances Tolmie Collection II

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Oran Tàlaidh Mhic Leòid’.   See: ‘Tàladh Mhic Leòid

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Oran Teannachaidh’.   See: The Frances Tolmie Collection II

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‘O rionn o, hó-ró ‘m bàta’.  See: The Frances Tolmie Collection II

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‘O ‘s toil ‘s gur ro-thoil leam

 

Tocher, 35 (Summer 1981), 334-337

 

Song learnt by the Rev. William Matheson in Skye and recorded from him by Donald A. MacDonald and Alan Bruford on School of Scottish Studies recording SA 1980/115 A1.  It is very closely related to a Raasay song of the same title:

see the Calum I. MacLean Collection.

 

There are nine verse-couplets and a three-line refrain.

 

 

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Abbreviations 

 

Traditional: known authorship

A-C       D-Domhnall       Domhnallach-Dz        E–G       H–L       M–MacA       MacB–MacC        MacD        MacE-MacK,  MacLa-MacLeod        MacLeòid A-H        MacLeòid I-Z        MacM-MacN       MacO-MacZ      M      N      O-Q      R-Z

 

Traditional: anonymous

A-B      C-D      E-K      L-N       O       P-Z     

 

Traditional: collections

Annie Arnott       An Cabairneach        Carmina Gadelica        Catriona Dhùghlas        Tormod Domhnallach                  Marjory Kennedy-Fraser         Angus Lamont        K. N. MacDonald         Johan MacInnes          Hugh MacKinnon          Calum I. MacLean         Sorley MacLean        Kenneth MacLeod         Niall MacLeòid        Màiri Nighean Alasdair

Cairistiona Mhàrtainn         Alexander Morison          Kenneth Morrison         Angus Nicolson          Portree HS Magazine   Lachlann Robertson         Frances Tolmie I          Frances Tolmie II

 

Modern

Somhairle MacGill-Eain         The New Poetry

 

References

Books etc: A-L         Books etc: MacA-MacL         Books etc: MacM-Z   Periodicals, MSS, AV

 

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