Gaelic Literature of the Isle of Skye: an annotated  bibliography   

 

Traditional poetry and song:  collectors and collections

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MACLEAN, Calum I.  (1915-1960)

 

A native of Raasay and brother of the poet Sorley MacLean (Somhairle MacGill-Eain), Calum I. MacLean was a distinguished collector of both Irish and Scottish Gaelic oral literature.  He started his career with the Irish Folklore Commission, collecting, recording and cataloguing, and then in 1951 he joined the staff of the School of Scottish Studies in the University of Edinburgh (Thomson 1983:180).

 

Upon the twenty-fifth anniversary of Calum MacLean’s death, the School of Scottish Studies published a commemorative issue of its periodical Tocher (39: Spring 1985), with memoirs from his brothers Alasdair and Sorley and several friends and colleagues, as well as transcriptions of a selection of the material in the School’s Sound Archives which had been recorded by him.

 

Listed here are songs collected by Calum Maclean in his native Raasay and from Mrs. Annie Arnott in Skye.  Many recordings of these songs may be heard on the Tobar an Dualchais site.

 

See also Calum MacLean’s entry in the section for traditional prose.

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MacLean, Calum I.  ‘Traditional Songs from Raasay and Their Value as Folk-Literature’.  TGSI, 39-40 (1942-1950), 176-192.

 

This article is both a collection of songs and an essay in which Calum MacLean argues eloquently that our best literature is not to be found in the printed editions of Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, Donnchadh Bàn or Rob Donn. Rather it is to be found in traditional folk poetry and song.  All fifteen songs were recorded in 1946 from Angus Nicolson of Clachan Farm, Raasay, who had learnt them as a boy from Màiri Iain ‘Ic Chaluim of the Braes of Portree.

 

i    ‘Is toil liom Ailean Dubh a Lochaidh’, p. 181.

 

An address to Ailean Dubh from a woman who still loves him, even though he has betrayed her.  Four single-line verses and a three-line refrain.  For an Eigg version, see Songs of the Hebrides 2 (Kennedy-Fraser and  

MacLeod 1917: xx).

 

ii   Cùl ri m’ leannan ‘s e chuir mi ‘n diugh’, pp. 181-182.

 

A love song.  Calum MacLean comments on the singer’s admiration for his lost sweetheart’s modesty and songs.  Five verse-couplets and a three-line refrain.

 

iii   Gu bheil an gille dubhdhonn’, pp. 182-183.

 

Calum MacLean believes this version to be older than a Barra version published in Colm Ó Lochlainn’s Deoch-slàinte nan Gillean (Ó Lochlainn  1948:42).  Ten verse-couplets and a three-line refrain.

 

iv   Thoir mo shoraidh a Chinn t-sàile’, pp. 183-184.

 

Calum MacLean writes that although this love song is from the Kintail district, he had not heard it sung there.  Ten verse-couplets and a three-line, mainly vocable refrain.

 

v    à, nighean ó, nighean donn’, p. 184.

 

A sailor’s love song.  Eight verse-couplets and a three-line refrain.

 

vi   ‘Is toil liom coisiche na frìthe’, pp. 184-185.

 

Love song addressed by a woman to a hunter.  A fragment, of two verse-couplets and a three-line refrain.

 

vii   Siod mar rachainn fhéin is tu’, p. 185.

 

A fragment of three lines and a three-line refrain.  Derick Thomson has published an English translation of another version of this song from Skye (Thomson 1977:67).  For another, fragmentary version with tune from the Rev. Kenneth MacLeod, see Songs of the Hebrides 2 (Kennedy-Fraser and MacLeod 1917: xiii).

 

viiiTha sgeul ùr air tighinn do’n bhaile’, pp. 185-186.

 

This song, described by Calum MacLean as one of Angus Nicolson’s finest, is a dialogue song between the man and his sweetheart.  It is a continuation song with a vocable refrain.  For an Eigg version, see individual entry for

‘Hi ri’m bo, hi ri hi ù’.

 

ix   Gur e mise tha fo éislean’, pp. 186-187.

 

Another love song.  Seven single-line verses and a mainly vocable refrain,

 

x    ‘Cha bhidh mi buan is tu bhith bhuam’, pp. 187-188.

 

Ten verse-couplets and a three-line refrain.  For a Skye version of this song, see the Catriona Dhùghlas Collection.

 

xi   ‘Chi mi am bàta a’ dol seachad’, p. 188.

 

A woman’s song for her sailor sweetheart.  Eight verse-couplets and a refrain of mixed vocables and text.

 

xii  ‘Dh’ fhalbh mo rùn air an aiseag’, p. 189.

 

Song of a woman abandoned by her sweetheart.  Nine verse-couplets and a refrain.  For a Skye version of this song, see the Johan MacInnes  Collection.

 

xiii ‘O! ‘s toil ‘s gur ro-thoil liom’, pp. 189-190.

 

Song of a woman for an absent lover.  Seven verse-couplets and a refrain. For another version of this song, see individual entry.

 

xiv  ‘Ho chuir mo leannan cùl rium’, pp. 190-191.

 

Calum MacLean comments upon this song as an example of the Gaelic people being not too much affected by Victorianism.  Six verse-couplets and a three-line refrain.

 

xv   Chaidh mo Dhonnchadh ‘n-a bheinn’, p. 191.

 

For two other versions of this song, see individual entry.  Calum MacLean notes that it is sung to a ceòl mór tune.

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Songs collected from Annie Arnott by Calum I. MacLean

 

i     an fhidheall’.  Tocher, 39 (Spring 1985), 154-155

 

Recorded from Annie’s singing and transcribed from School of Scottish Studies recording SA 1953/49 A7.  A port-a-beul, with the refrain sung twice at the beginning and then once after each verse.  Three verse-couplets, with a four-line refrain.  There is a parallel English translation with the tune in staff notation.

 

ii    Dhannsamaid le Ailean’.  Tocher, 1 (Spring 1971), 6.

 

Recorded in Glasgow from Annie’s singing and transcribed from School of  Scottish Studies recording SA 1953/10 A11.  A port-a-beul, with two four-line verses and a refrain. There is a parallel English translation with the tune in staff notation.

 

iii   Gillean mo rùin’.  Tocher, 8 (Winter 1972), 266-267.

 

Recorded from Annie’s singing and transcribed from School of Scottish Studies recording SA 1953/10 A8.  A popular New Year song, of which there are other published versions from different parts of the Gaidhealtachd. 

This version has four verses and the refrain in a strophic metre.  There is a parallel English translation with the tune in staff notation.

 

iv   Oran Leannan-sìdhe’.  Tocher, 26 (1977), 112-113.

 

Recorded from Annie’s singing and transcribed from School of Scottish Studies recording SA 1954/8 B6.  This version appears to be only a fragment, with vocable refrain beginning ‘Huraibb i …’ and text beginning ‘Chuala mi do ghlaodh’.  There is an English translation and the tune in staff notation.  For a longer version of the song from Barra, see Tocher 13:202-205.

 

v    ‘ ‘S ann tha ‘n còmhradh binn aig an fhitheach’.  Tocher, 1 (Spring 1971), 8-9.

 

Recorded from Annie’s singing and transcribed from School of Scottish Studies recording SA 1954/8 B10.  The refrain and five verses of Annie’s version are given, along with two additional verses from a Harris version. The tune is given in staff notation.

 

 

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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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© A. Loughran, 2016