Gaelic Literature of the Isle of Skye: an annotated  bibliography   


Traditional poets and songmakers:  O - Q







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Ó MUIRGHEASÁIN, Donnchadh  (17th Century)


This poet was a member of a Hiberno-Scottish bardic family.  For a discussion of this family, see T.F. O’Rahilly’s ‘A Hiberno-Scottish Family: Ó Muirgheasáin, Morrison’ (Scottish Gaelic Studies, 5:101-105).  Ronald Black gives a useful summary with references of the family-s history in The Companion to Gaelic Scotland (Thomson 1983:219-220).


Marbhruiñ Shior Toirmoid vic Leoid: do reiñe Niall mc  Muirricgh.  Reliquiae Celticae.  Alexander Cameron.  Vol. 2.  Inverness: Northern Counties, 1894, pp. 264-275.


The text, as transcribed from the Book of Clanranald, with a parallel English translation.  Here the elegy is ascribed to Niall MacMhuirich, but Derick Thomson in his article ‘The Poetry of Niall MacMhuirich’ notes that it is ascribed elsewhere to Donnchadh Ó Muirgheasáin (TGSI, 46:300), an ascription with which he is inclined to agree.


There are forty-six stanzas, beginning with ‘Do thuirn aoibhneas iñsi gall’, in deibhidhe metre.


Sir Norman MacLeod of Berneray is the subject of several of the poems of Màiri Nighean Alasdair Ruaidh to be found in J.C. Watson’s edition of her work (Watson 1934).



Ó MUIRGHEASÁIN,  Eóin Óg  (16th / 17th Century)


This poet was the earliest known member of his family known to have been a bard to the Clan MacLeod.


Eóin Óg Ó Muirgheasáin.  Creach Gaoidheal i reilig Rois’.  Scottish Gaelic Studies, 8, Pt. 1 (December 1955), 27-52.


A lament for Ruairidh Mór, seventeenth chief of the Clan MacLeod, who died in 1626.  It has been edited by John MacDonald from a transcription and transliteration, as well as a Photostat copy, of the version in the Royal Irish

Academy’s MS 23, N.12, P.9.  As well as the Gaelic text, there is a parallel English translation.  It has more than fifty stanzas and is described by John MacDonald as a “highly elaborated” bardic composition.



PEUTAN, Aonghas  (19th / 20th Century)


This poet belonged to East Trotternish in Skye and the Rev. Tormod Domhnallach knew him as a young boy.


Aonghas Peutan.  ‘A Mhurchaidh ma chaidh thu ceàrr’.  Gairm, 76 (Am Foghar 1971), 308-309.


A group of local men were fishing on Loch Earlish when a porpoise appeared close to their boat.  One of the company, named Murchadh, made an amusing song about the incident, naming each of the company in turn.  Aonghas Peutan

composed these two quatrains in reply.  From the Rev. Domhnallach’s article ‘Aoirean agus Luinneagan Eibhinn

(Gairm, 76:299-319).



PEUTAN, Iain  (18th Century)


There is confusion as to the identity of the composer of the poem noted below.  Both versions identify the composer as Iain Beton, or Peutan, Fear Dhun an Eirthirich.  The Rev. Thomas Whyte’s account of the Beatons of Skye lists an Angus Bethune of Donnelrich who had four sons: John, Ewan, Ferquhand and Norman.  John, his eldest son, became minister of Glenshiel and Angus was succeeded by his second son, Ewan (Whyte 1893:28-30).  A more recent account of the Skye Beatons has transliterated Whyte’s ‘Donnelrich’ as ‘Dun Eilthirich’ (Clan MacLeod Magazine, 1953:97-100) which could be identified with the Dun an Eirthirich of the poem’s ascription, and with Dunelireach on the Harlosh peninsula.  Angus Bethune’s son John might then seem to be a likely candidate for the authorship of the poem, until we consider the designation ‘Fear Dhun an Eirthirich’.  Even though he was the eldest son, it was his younger brother Ewan who succeeded their father, so the Rev. John could not have been designated as Fear Dhun an Eirthirich.  If one of Angus Bethune’s sons did indeed compose the poem, then Ronald MacDonald and the Rev. A. MacLean Sinclair are in some way mistaken in their ascriptions.


Slàn iomradh do ‘n ùr-mhnaoi


i    Oran a roinneadh le Iain Beton fear Dhuin an Eirthirich, do nighean Thearlaich oig Scalpa ‘n tratha’. 

Comh-chruinneachidh Orannaigh Gaidhealach.  [Eigg Collection].  Le Raonuill MacDomhnuill.  Duneidiunn: Walter Ruddiman, 1776, dd. 46-48.


ii     Oran do nighinn Thearlich Oig an Sgalpa an t-Sratha’.  The Gaelic Bards from 1715 to 1765.  Edited by

the Rev. A. MacLean Sinclair.  Charlottetown, P.E.I.: Haszard and Moore, 1892, pp. 110-112.


A graceful tribute to a young woman, reminiscent of eighteenth-century love poems composed by educated members of the Gaelic gentry in that century (cf. entry for the Rev. Domhnall MacLeòid of Greshornish’sBeannachadh Bàird’).


The subject of this poem, Seònaid, would appear from the ascription to have been a sister of the poet Lachlann Mac Theàrlaich Oig, c.1665-1734.  This could weaken the case for the composer having been one of the sons of Angus Bethune.  When the Rev. Thomas Whyte’s account of the Beatons of Skye was first published in 1776, the Rev. John Bethune was then living in retirement, indicating that he and his brothers were one generation younger than Lachlann, who died in 1734.


The place-name reference to Ugairidh in the second line is puzzling.  A.R. Forbes lists such a place in his Place-Names of Skye (Forbes 1923:440), but without any clear indication as to where it may be found.


There are nine eight-line stanzas in an amhran metre.  The second version shows some variations from the first, but I think it likely that the Eigg Collection was Sinclair’s source.



PEUTAN, Niall  (20th Century)


Son of the poet Aonghas Peutan, q.v.


Tormod Domhnallach.  Aoirean agus Luinneagan Eibhinn’.  Gairm, 76 (Am Foghar 1971), 299-319.


Includes on pages 309-310 the following songs composed by Niall Peutan:


i     ‘Mo chruinneag dhonn ‘s toigh leam thu


ii    Throd mo bhean ‘s gun throd i rium


Titles only are given for this and the previous song.  Rev. Domhnallach

mentions that both are sometimes heard on the radio.


iii   Tha mi trom ‘s mo chrìdh’ fo leòn


Two quatrains of a love song which Niall composed when very young. 

Rev. Domhnallach also gives two quatrains of the older song,

Thogainn fonn air murradh mór’, upon which it is modelled.


iv   ‘Is muladach mi ‘n diugh ‘s mi ‘g éirigh


A song about the misery of spending the summer in a fisherman’s

bothy in Scorrybreck.  There are six four-line stanzas in a strophic

metre and a three-line refrain.



PEUTON, Uilleam  (19th Century)


This poet belonged to Kilmuir in Skye.


Uilleam Peuton.  ‘S muladach mi ‘n-diugh ‘s mi ‘g èirigh’.  Tuath is Tighearna: Tenants and Landlords.  Edited by Donald E. Meek.  Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press for the Scottish Gaelic Texts Society, 1995, 172-174.


Composed when the poet and a number of his companions were serving a prison sentence in Edinburgh for their part in a confrontation with the notorious Sheriff Ivory.  There are ten four-line verses and a refrain.



POL CRUBACH  (17th Century)


Pòl MacLeòid, Pòl Crubach, was the son of Alasdair Bàn Og, one of the MacLeods of Lynedale in Skye.  Said to be tall and handsome, he fell in love with a daughter of MacDonald of Kensaleyre.  Her family and friends

disapproved of the affair and in a fight Pòl’s leg was broken: hence the epithet Crubach.  He was known in Skye tradition as a man of great strength.


(Information from Magnus MacLean’s ‘Skye Bards’ (Highland Monthly, 4:692-693),  and John MacInnes’ entry for Pòl Crubach in The Companion to Gaelic Scotland (Thomson 1983: 236) )


‘ ‘S i so iorram na truaighe


i    Comh-chruinneachidh Orannaigh Gaidhealach.  Le Raonuill MacDomhnuill.  [Eigg Collection]. 

Duneidiunn: Walter Ruddiman, 1776, dd. 34-37


ii    The Gaelic Bards from 1411 to 1715. Edited by the Rev. A. MacLean Sinclair.  Charlottetown:

Haszard and Moore, 1890, pp. 35-39


iii   Bàrdachd Ghàidhlig.  Edited by William J. Watson.  2nd ed.  Stirling: Learmonth and Son, 1932 [1st ed. 1918], pp. 201-205


The first version is headed ‘Le Pòl Crubach do Iain Mac Shir Ruairidh MhicLeòid’ and this information is repeated in slightly different formats in the second and third versions, with the additional information that the subject of the lament

died in 1649.  This chief, the XIVth of Clan MacLeod according to Alexander MacKenzie and the XVIth according to I.F. Grant, was known as Iain Mór, although W.J. Watson refers to him as Iain Breac (MacKenzie 1889: 92-100; Grant 1959: 267-288; Watson 1932: 316).


This is a fine example of a traditional lament for a chief.  There are twelve eight-line stanzas in what W.J. Watson calls a four-stress iorram-cumha (Watson 1932: lviii-lix).  There are changes in the position of the rhyming stresses throughout.  Prof. Colm Ó Baoill has commented to me that this in effect produces three metres, and would pose difficulties for anyone singing the lament.


The second version shows several variations from that in the Eigg Collection.  W.J. Watson cites both versions as his sources for the third, but it is clear that the Eigg Collection is his principle source.























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



Somhairle MacGill-Eain         The New Poetry



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



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