Gaelic Literature of the
Traditional poetry and song: collectors and collections
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ANGUS NICOLSON (late 19th / 20th Century)
Angus Nicolson belonged to Clachan Farm, Raasay. In 1946 he recorded fifteen songs for Calum I. MacLean. Angus had learnt all of these songs as a boy from Màiri Iain ‘Ic Chaluim of the Braes of Portree.
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 ‘Hó rà hù 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).
viii ‘Tha 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
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 ró 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.
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
© A. Loughran, 2016