Gaelic Literature of the Isle of Skye: an annotated  bibliography   

 

Traditional poetry and song:  collectors and collections

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KENNEDY-FRASER, Marjory (1857-1930)

 

Born in 1857, the daughter of David Kennedy, a noted Scottish singer.  Mrs. Kennedy-Fraser was already well established as a singer and musician when she went to the island of Eriskay in 1905 on a song-collecting expedition, achieving a long-held ambition to do research into Celtic music.  Over the years several other expeditions were to follow, principally to the Outer Isles, but also to Eigg and Skye.  Her performances of her versions of Hebridean songs, in which she was joined by her sister Margaret and her daughter Patuffa, achieved enormous success.  In 1908 she was joined by the Rev. Kenneth MacLeod as her Gaelic collaborator. 

 

Although Mrs. Kennedy-Fraser’s enthusiasm for Hebridean song was unbounded, it was based upon a romantic and unrealistic perception of Gaelic culture.  Her song versions were fashioned according to this perception and in accordance with her classical European musical training.  A lack of respect for texts as she received them is revealed in a comment she made concerning a song-collecting expedition to Barra: “For we always make a point of getting such words as still cling to the melodies, whether in the end they prove valuable

or not” (Kennedy-Fraser and MacLeod 1925: xxi).  She usually altered the form and style of the melodies too, sometimes very drastically indeed.  In 1967/1968 Alasdair Grant, a student in the Department of Celtic in the University of Aberdeen, made a study of the first volume in the Songs of the Hebrides series.  After comparing the songs in this volume with corresponding original material on tape in the School of Scottish Studies in the University of Edinburgh, he reported that in every instance the songs, after passing through Mrs. Kennedy-Fraser’s hands, were quite changed (Grant 1969).

 

Mrs. Kennedy-Fraser’s own account of her work is to be found in her autobiography A Life of Song (Kennedy-Fraser 1929), as well as in the introductory notes to the volumes in the Songs of the Hebrides series.  A more

objective and critical account is to be found in Chapter 13 of Ethel Bassin’s The Old Songs of Skye (Bassin 1977:127-143).  In his introduction to his edition of Kenneth MacLeod’s prose works, the Rev. T. M. Murchison gives an account of the Songs of the Hebrides which gives valuable and not unsympathetic insight into the philosophy and working methods underpinning the collaboration between Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and Kenneth MacLeod (Murchison  1988: xxxiii-xxxix)

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Listed below by volume are the songs relevant to the area covered by this bibliography, the majority of these being from Eigg.  In these volumes English language versions of the Gaelic texts are usually given and the melodies, with harmonic accompaniment, are given in staff notation, except for those items whose pagination is in Roman numerals.  In these cases the melody only is given and the texts are frequently no more than fragments.

 

Where the title of a song differs from the first line, I have included the latter in most instances as the first item in the annotation.

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Songs of the Hebrides and Other Celtic Songs from the Highlands of Scotland.  Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and Kenneth MacLeod (editors).  London: Boosey and Co., 1909.  xxxix, 164p.

 

i     Clò nan Gillean’, p. xxiv.

 

Text same as that in Frances Tolmie’s collection (Journal of the Folk-Song Society, 16:223), but with a different melody.

 

ii    ‘O bhradaig dhuibh o-hi o-hu’. pp. 4-9.

 

Text a collation of Eriskay, Barra and Eigg versions.

 

iii   ‘Oran Sniomha’, pp. 18-21.

 

Thug mi gaol duit, Thug mi gràdh duit’.  Learnt by Kenneth MacLeod from his aunt, Janet MacLeod of Skye and Eigg.

 

iv    Thainig an Gille Dubh’, p. 65.

 

The refrain and three verses of Lady D’Oyly’s song.

 

v     Ciod è a ghaoil a bhitheadh ort?’, p. 74.

 

A milking croon from Eigg, noted from Frances Tolmie.  See also Frances Tolmie’s collection (Journal of the Folk-Song Society, 16:188-189).

 

vi    Oran an Eich-Uisge’, pp. 94-97.

 

‘A Mhór a ghaoil!  A Mhór a shògh!’.  Words and melody from the Gesto Collection (MacDonald 1895:App. 20).  See also Frances Tolmie’s collection (Journal of the Folk-Song Society, 16:162-163) and individual entry for ‘A Mhór, a Mhór, till ri d’ mhacan’.

 

vii   Dearg mac Deirg gura mi do bhean’, pp. 110-113

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Traditional version of ‘The Lay of Diarmad’ from Janet MacLeod of Eigg, who learnt it in Skye.  See individual entry for ‘Laoidh Dhiarmaid’.

 

viii  Gàir na Mara’, pp. 124-127.

 

Chì mi ‘n t-àit ‘s an robh mi ‘n uiridh’.  From the singing of Frances Tolmie: see also her collection (Journal of the Folk-Song Society, 16:236) and K. N. MacDonald’s Puirt-a-Beul (MacDonald 1901:47).

 

ix   ‘An Fhideag Airgid’, pp. 134-135.

 

Words collected by Mrs. E. C. Watson (Celtic Review 1:147-149), with lines from a Skye version replacing lines eight to twenty-three and twenty-six.

 

x    Ailein duinn, nach till thu ‘n taobh-sa?’, pp. 144-147.

 

Attributed to Flora MacDonald and sung traditionally by Kenneth MacLeod, according to the Songs of the Hebrides ascription.  Alasdair Grant’s study of recorded traditional versions of the song reveals that one singer attributes the song to Flora, but that another attributes it to a friend of Allan MacDonald of Kingsburgh, Flora’s husband (Grant 1969:131-135).

 

xi   Crònan na Maighdinn-Mhara’, pp. 150-153.

 

‘Ho! mo nigh’n dubh / mo nigh’n dubh’.  Traditional words from Eigg.

 

xii  ‘Ho! mo leannan’, pp. 160-161.

 

Air and refrain from Eriskay, remainder of text from Eigg.

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Songs of the Hebrides.   Vol. 2.  Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and Kenneth MacLeod (editors).  London: Boosey and Co., 1917.  xxx, 242, [2] p.

 

i     ‘A bho mhaol donn’, p. xiv.

 

A milking croon from Kirsty MacKinnon of Eigg.

 

ii    Caoineadh-mara’, pp. xv-xvi.

 

‘Cha ‘n eil bàta ho-ri’.  From Widow MacDonald of Eigg.

 

iii   ‘E ho m’ aghan’, p. xviii.

 

A milking croon from Piper Donald MacLeod of Eigg.

 

iv   ‘ ‘S toigh leam Ailean Dubh a Lochaidh’, p. xx.

 

Described as a cradle croon from Eigg.  For a Raasay version of this song, see the Calum I. MacLean Collection.

 

v    Eala fo leòn’, pp. 11-13.

 

Mhùirnein mo ghaoil’.  Learnt by Kenneth MacLeod in Eigg.

 

vi   Shibeag, Shibeag’, pp. 15-18.

 

From Frances Tolmie: see her collection (Journal of the Folk-Song Society 16:264-265).

 

vii  Cuchulann ‘s a Mhac’, pp. 23-26.

 

Och nan och is och eire!’.  Collected by Kenneth MacLeod from Duncan MacLellan of Eigg.

 

viii   ‘ ‘S a’ choillud thall’, pp. 42-44.

 

‘O! ‘s i rùn mo cheill a bhann’.  From Frances Tolmie: see her collection (Journal of the Folk-Song Society 16:267-268).

 

ix   ‘An Long Reubaidh’, pp. 45-50.

 

Moch a theid i reubadh chuanta’.  Collected by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and Kenneth MacLeod from Mrs. MacDonald of Eigg.

 

x    ‘Seathan, Mac Righ Eireann’, pp. 73-79.

 

Collected by Kenneth MacLeod from Janet MacLeod of Skye and Eigg, and Mary Henderson of Morvern.  See individual entry for this song.

 

xi   ‘Cumha Mhic ‘ille Chalum’, pp. 102-107.

 

Lament usually attributed to Iain Garbh Mhic Ghille Chaluim’s sister.  Collected by Kenneth Macleod in Eigg.  See entry for Nighean Mhic Ghille  Chaluim in section for poetry and song of known authorship.

 

xii  ‘Mo nighean donn a Cornaig’, pp. 140-146.

 

Words collected in Eigg by Kenneth MacLeod.

 

xiiiCronan an Dàin’, pp. 154-156.

 

‘Ho-ro-ro-ro-ro leannain thu’.  From Kirsty MacKinnon of Eigg.

 

xiv  Donull nan Donull’, pp. 178-181.

 

Gur a biodh, gur a bòidheach’.  From Kirsty MacKinnon of Eigg.

 

xv  ‘A bhò chridheag’, pp. 190-193.

 

‘He ho-li-gan he ho m’ aighear’. Collected by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and Kenneth MacLeod from Isabel Macleod of Eigg.  A milking song.

 

xvi  Caidealan cuide rium fhìn thu’, pp. 194-198.

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Songs of the Hebrides.   Vol. 3.  Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and Kenneth MacLeod (editors).  London: Boosey and Co., 1921.  xxiv, 185p.

 

i     ‘Ho co-théid cuide rium’, p. xiii.

 

From Eigg.

 

ii    ‘Oran Arabhaig’, p. xiii.

 

See individual entry for this song.

 

iii   ‘Mo nighean dubh, mo nighean dubh’, p. xvi.

 

From Eigg.

 

iv   Inghne bhòidheach, nuair bhithinn brònach’, p. xix.

 

From Eigg.  Described as an earlier and more characteristic form of ‘Mo rùn geal dìleas’ and ‘Gur Milis Mórag’.

 

v    Och nan och, mo léir chràdh’, p. xx.

 

Lament for Iain Garbh of Raasay.  Here attributed to Màiri Nighean Alasdair Ruaidh, but believed by J. C. Watson to have been composed by Iain Garbh’s sister (Watson 1934:100-101).  See entry for Nighean Mhic Ghille  

Chaluim in section for poetry and song of known authorship.

 

vi   ‘Bando Ribinnean’, pp. 23-25.

 

A port-a-beul from Marion MacLeod of Eigg.

 

vii  ‘An talla ‘m bu ghnàth le Mac Leòid’, pp. 31-33.

 

Màiri Nighean Alasdair Ruaidh’s poem.

 

viiiDuan an Rathaid’, pp. 58-59.

 

Hin din dan du-i hao ri o-ro’.  Learnt by Kenneth MacLeod as a boy in Eigg.

 

ix   Hin, Hin, Haradala’, pp. 60-61.

 

Skye tune from K. N. MacDonald’s Puirt-a-Beul (MacDonald 1901:9-10).

 

x    Taladh Chalumchille’, pp. 98-100.

 

Ba mo leanabh, ho hi’.  Learnt by Kenneth MacLeod as a boy in Eigg.

 

xi   Tha smeòrach ‘s a’ mhaduinn chiùin’, pp. 114-116.

 

The editors attribute the words to the first Lord MacDonald of Sleat.  This would be Sir Alexander, who was created a peer in 1776 and died in 1795.  He was an accomplished musician, and composed the tune ‘Lord

MacDonald’s Reel’, to which this song and others are sung.  It is unlikely though, that he composed the words, for he had little interest in Gaelic culture (Nicolson 1930:285-287; MacDonald 1901:16-17).

 

xii  Rann Iasgaich’, pp. 132-133.

 

Dubhan bradach Driamlach robach’.  Learnt by Kenneth MacLeod as a boy in Eigg.

 

xiiiChunna mi ‘n t-Seabhag’, pp. 160-163.

 

Learnt by Kenneth MacLeod as a boy in Eigg.

 

xiv   ‘Ha-rim, Ha-’, pp. 164-165.

 

From Kenneth MacLeod.  About an incident when the Skye witches outwitted Gormshuil of Moy, with the help of a Dunvegan boy.

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From the Hebrides: further gleanings of tale and song.  Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and Kenneth MacLeod (editors).  Glasgow: Paterson’s Publications, [1925].  xxiii, 130p.

 

i    ‘Ho ro hi ri ri hiu o’, p. x.

 

Waulking song from Marion MacLeod of Eigg.

 

ii   ‘Co-dhiù thogainn fonn mo leannain’, p. xi.

 

From A. Campbell of Skeabost.  See individual entry for this song.

 

iii   ‘Hi ri ri ribh o’, p. xi.

 

From Mrs. MacLeod of Skeabost, Skye.

 

iv   ‘Ho ro ho ho gu’, p. xi.

 

From A. Nicolson of the Braes, Skye.  A simpler version of the previous song, according to the editors.

 

v    Ho hu ra bhi o hi’, p. xii.

 

From Mrs. MacLeod of Skeabost.

 

vi   Nighneag a’ chùil duinn’, p. xii.

 

From A. Matheson of Skye.

 

vii  ‘Hi na hi ri ri u’, p. xiv.

 

From Kirsty MacKinnon of Eigg.

 

viii  ‘Ho, Ailleagan’, p. xv.

 

From Marion MacLeod of Eigg.

 

ix   ‘ ‘S truagh leam fhìn’, p. xv.

 

A mother’s croon from Isabel MacLeod of Eigg.

 

x    ‘Ho ro Mhàiri dhubh’, p. xvi.

 

From Mór Ruadh of Eigg.  There does not seem to be a connection with the other song of the same title listed individually.

 

xi   Nis thoir do bhainne’, p. xvi.

 

From Mrs. MacLeod of Skeabost.

 

xii  Tha na féidh am Bràigh Uige’, p. xviii.

 

From Alex. Nicolson of Braes.  See individual entry for this song.

 

xiii  Tha mile long an cuan Eirinn’, p. xviii.

 

From Donald MacLeod, piper, of Eigg.

 

xiv    bu deis air an ùrlar’, p. xx.

 

A port-a-beul from Marion MacLeod of Eigg.

 

xv   ‘Mo leiba chall o’, pp. 6-7.

 

From Frances Tolmie’s collection (Journal of the Folk-Song Society 16:217).

 

xvi   Màigean’, p. 24.

 

‘Cha ‘n fhaigh duine, Màigean’.  From Frances Tolmie, although not attributed to her by the editors.  Originally published in K. N. MacDonald’s Puirt-a-Beul (MacDonald 1901:40; Bassin 1977:82).

 

xvii  ‘Long a’ Leumraich’, pp. 36-39.

 

Gaelic words collected and edited by Kenneth MacLeod from sea poem attributed to Màiri Nighean Alasdair Ruaidh: see her entry in section for poetry and song of known authorship.

 

xviii  ‘Long Mhic Leòid’, pp. 41-45

 

Gaelic words collected and edited by Kenneth MacLeod from sea poem attributed to Màiri Nighean Alasdair Ruaidh: see her entry in section for poetry and song of known authorship.

 

xix  Cuirm-Mhara’, pp. 46-49.

 

Gaelic and English words from Kenneth MacLeod.  Original attributed to Màiri Nighean Alasdair Ruaidh.  See her entry in section for poetry and song of known authorship.

 

xx  Righ Mannain’, pp. 50-54.

 

Gaelic words collected and edited by Kenneth MacLeod from sea poem attributed to Màiri Nighean Alasdair Ruaidh: see her entry in section for poetry and song of known authorship.

 

xxi  Chaidh na Fir a Scathabhaig’, pp. 74-75.

 

From Frances Tolmie.  See her collection (Journal of the Folk-Song Society 16:221-222) and the Gesto Collection (MacDonald 1895:App. 21).

 

xxii  Fhaoileag Tìre-fo-Thuinn’, pp. 106-109.

 

‘Hi  ‘s na hi ri ri iu … / Fhaoileag bhig is Fhaoileag mhara’.  From Marion MacLeod of Eigg.

 

xxiii  Gruagach-Mhara’, pp. 110-113.

 

Mrs. Kennedy-Fraser indicates that part of the air came from Frances Tolmie, but fails to acknowledge that Miss Tolmie was also the source of the words (Bassin 1977:192; MacDonald 1901:45;  Journal of the Folk-Song Society16:219-220).

 

xxiv  Sil a bhò’, pp. 114-116.

 

Tune from Skeabost, Skye.  Old words arranged by Kenneth MacLeod.

 

 

 

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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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