Gaelic Literature of the
Traditional poets and songmakers: R - Z
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R., A. M.
A. M. R. ‘A lament for Donald MacLeod of Kingsburgh’. The Highlander (5th May 1877), p. 3.
There are ten songs listed in Neil J. MacKinnon’s ‘Strath, Skye’ (TGSI 54:208-239). Although listed under the surname Robasdan, they are so akin to the songs by Domhnall Mac-a-Phì (Domhnall Mhurchaidh) listed in Dr. MacKinnon’s ‘Strath, Skye – the End of the Nineteenth Century’ (TGSI, 52:155-197) that I have listed them under the entry for Domhnall Mac-a-Phì.
ROBASDAN, Eoghan (1842-1895)
From Tongue, in Skye.
‘Cùl mo làimh ri bàt’ is lion’. Gairm, 143 (An Samhradh 1988), 211-212
ROBERTSON, Angus (1871-1948)
Angus Robertson was born in Skye and came to
developed as the Gaelic novel An t-Ogha Mór, first appeared. He served for a time as president of An Comunn Gàidhealach. When in
Gaels. This was followed by Orain na Céilidh and Cnoc an Fhradhairc (1940).
(Information from The Companion to Gaelic Scotland (Thomson 1983:250).)
Details of Angus Robertson ‘s novel An t-Ogha Mór will be found in the section for non-traditional creative prose.
Robertson. Orain na Céilidh: Songs of the Ceilidh. Arranged
by Duncan Morrison. Foreword by D. J.
There are nine Gaelic songs in all, with one English language song. The Gaelic texts are followed by the composer’s English language versions, which usually duplicate the metrical patterns of the originals.
Love is his most favoured subject and there is also some nature poetry and a song of encouragement to speakers of Gaelic. His songs are pleasant enough, but not very inspired.
The melodies are given in staff notation. Five are original compositions, with four based upon existing tunes: ‘Aig an Airidh (pp. 6-9), ‘Alasdair an Dùin’ (pp. 10-19), ‘Leannan an t-Saighdeir’ (pp. 17-19) and ‘A’ Bheinn as àird air Chùl’ (pp. 26-29).
(2) Angus Robertson. Cnoc an Fhradhairc.
On pp. 48-94 there are twenty-eight poems and songs, including the eight songs of Orain na Céilidh, along with fourteen English-language versions The first half of the book, pp. 1-47 is taken up with the title poem; a long poem described by Derick Thomson as a philosophical pastoral.
In his foreword to Cnoc an Fhradhairc Alexander Nicolson is fulsome and uncritical in his praise. Derick Thomson gives a more balanced view; pointing out the work’s literary flaws as well as its good points (Thomson 1977:264).
Two poems from Cnoc an Fhradhairc are included with parallel English translations in An Tuil: Anthology of 20th Century Scottish Gaelic Verse (Black 1999:48-51): they are ‘An Dà Latha’ and ‘Maorach is Feannag’.
(3) Aonghas MacDhonnchaidh. ‘Ceann-aghairt a’ Chomunn’. An Gaidheal, 36 (1940-1941), 154.
An anthem to celebrate An Comunn Gaidhealach’s fiftieth anniversary. Two eight-line stanzas and two four-line refrains.
(4) Aonghas MacDhonnchaidh. ‘An Sgaradh’. An Gaidheal, 37 (1941-1942), 116.
A lament for his son, Weston James
Robertson, killed in
(5) Aonghas MacDhonnchaidh. ‘Mòrag a’ Ghlinne’. An Gaidheal, 38 (1942-1943), 11.
A graceful reply in verse to a
letter from a young student, Mòrag Cameron. Four four-line stanzas and a refrain
ROBERTSON, Donald. See ROBASDAN, Domhnall
ROBERTSON, John. See ROBASDAN, Eoghan
ROBERTSON, Neil. See MACDHONNCHAIDH, Niall.
ROS, Alasdair (d. 1949)
A native of
(1949: Aireamh 10), 7-8.
(1) Alasdair Ros. ‘Naidheachd na Sobhraig’. An Gaidheal, 40 (1944-1945), 95
Song of welcome to the primrose,
which the poet sees as a symbol of freedom and victory against
(2) Alasdair Ros. ‘Miann an Fhogarraich do ‘n Eilean Sgiathanach’. An Gaidheal, 41 (1945-1946), 14.
An exile poem of six eight-line stanzas, beginning ‘Ged ‘s tric a bhuaileas siantanna’. The metre is similar to that of
Robert Burns’ ‘My love is like a red, red rose’.
ROS, Coinneach (1914-1990)
A native of
(Biographical information from Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticane, Vol. 10 (MacDonald 1981:363).)
(1) Coinneach Ros. ‘O a Ghaidhealtachd till’. Gairm, 51 (An Samhradh 1965), 268.
A plea to Gaels for renewal and a return to their land and culture. Four quatrains, beginning ‘Am bi daoine a chaoidh ‘na do ghlinn’. Included, with parallel English translation in An Tuil: Anthology of 20th Century Scottish Gaelic Verse (Black 1999:342-345).
(2) Coinneach Ros. ‘Farmad’. Gairm, 56 (Am Foghar 1966), 314.
A most effective modern poem of twelve lines, beginning ‘O sguiribh an t-òran’. The last few lines seem to me to show the influence of ‘Valentín Brún’ by the Irish poet Aodhagan Ó Rathaille. Included, with parallel English translation in An Tuil: Anthology of 20th Century Scottish Gaelic Verse (Black 1999:344-345).
(3) Coinneach Ros. ‘Fògradh-cogaidh sna h-Innsean’. Gairm, 51 (Am Foghar 1966), 314.
An expression of the experience of exile, powerful in its simplicity and brevity. A modern poem, with different traditional metrical influences. Ten lines, beginning with ‘Cha do sheac a’ ghrian ud’. Included, with parallel English translation in An Tuil: Anthology of 20th Century Scottish Gaelic Verse (Black 1999:342-343).
(4) Coinneach Ros. ‘Neamhaid gheal thu air clàr cuain’. Aitealan Dlù is Cian. Glaschu: Gairm, 1972, pp. 34-36.
A satire of twelve quatrains, composed when he was minister of Gigha.
ROS, Ealasaid. See LADY D’OYLY
ROS, Niall (1873-1943)
A native of
A prominent member of An Comunn Gaidhealach, he edited that body’s periodical An Gaidheal from 1923 until 1936. He edited for the SGTS Heroic Poetry from the Book of the Dean of Lismore (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1939).
Upon the occasion of his death in 1943 several tributes to Niall Ros in both English and Gaelic were published in An Gaidheal (39:49-52). His nephew, Coinneach Ros, gives a penetrating analysis of his personality in Aitealan Dlù is Cian (Ros 1972:21-22).
While his poetry does not leave any very deep impression, Niall Ros was possessed of reasonable technical skill, handling competently a variety of metres, traditional Gaelic and others, and dealing with a wide range of subjects.
(1) Neil Ross. ‘An Samhradh ‘an Eilean-c-Cheò’. Celtic Monthly, 1 (1892-1893), 192.
A song with a fine, swinging rhythm. Four eight-line verses.
(2) Neil Ross. ‘Aingeal an Dòchais’. Celtic Monthly, 2 (1893-1894), 24.
This poem is reminiscent of the aisling or vision theme as used by Dùghall Bochanan. It won for its composer first prize at the Oban Mod of 1893. There are ten stanzas. Beginning with ‘A’ Ghrian gu glòrmhor anns an iar’. The metre bears some resemblance to that of the metrical psalms, although the stanzas are of six lines each.
(3) ‘Sgéir-an-Oir’ (Neil Ross,
On the perishability of the beauties of creation in contrast to the enduring beauty of dleasdanas (duty). This poem won second prize at the 1897 Mod. There are eleven stanzas, beginning with ‘Cha ‘n ann a mhàin an gnùis nan òigh’. The metre is similar to that of ‘Aingeal an Dòchais’.
(4) Neil Ross. ‘Tìr nan Og’. Celtic Monthly, 8 (1899-1900), 23
This poem won first prize at the Edinburgh Mod of 1899 and was reprinted in An Deò-Gréine (12:149). There are four eight-line stanzas, beginning with ‘O c’àit ‘eil aoibhneas Tìr nan Og’. It is composed upon the tune of Robert Burns’ ‘My love is like a red, red rose’.
(5) Neil Ross. ‘Maduinn Earraich’. Celtic Monthly, 10 (1901-1902), 3
This poem won first prize in a competition promoted by the Glasgow Sutherlandshire Association. It was reprinted in An Deò-Gréine (12:21). There are twelve six-line stanzas, beginning with ‘Nach aoidheil tiorail fuaim nam fras’. The metre is similar to that of the first two poems listed above.
(6) Neil Ross. ‘A’ Phiob-Mhór. Celtic Monthly, 11 (1902-1903), 39
This poem in praise of the bagpipes won first prize at the Dundee Mod of 1902 and was reprinted in An Deò-Gréine (11:27-28). There are eleven six-line stanzas and a refrain beginning with ‘ ‘S i ‘phiob-chogaidh a bh’ ann’. It is composed upon the tune of Alexander MacKinnon’s ‘An Dubh-ghleannach’.
Ross. ‘Air fal
al al ò’. Songs of the
A conventional sailor’s love song. Three stanzas in an amhran metre with a vocable refrain. The tune is given in both staff and tonic sol-fa notation and there is an English translation by Malcolm MacFarlane.
(8) Niall Ros. ‘Cuairt do ‘n Ghaidhealtachd’. Guth na Bliadhna, 11 (1914), 379-384; 12 (1915), 1-6, 117-122
Account of a trip by sea from the
Clyde, past the Inner and Outer Hebrides, which reaches its climax in the
(9) Niall Ros. ‘An Oidhche’. An Deò-Gréine, 11 (1915-1916), 141
Here night is depicted as both bringing welcome relief from the cares of the day and as a symbol of the darkness always battling against light and goodness. There are forty-eight lines, beginning with ‘Ghluais righ mór an àigh troimh gheatachan dealrach an fheasgair’. The metre is based upon that of Homer’s Iliad.
A rallying song for An Comunn Gaidhealach, composed upon the model of Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair’s ‘O i ri rì tha e ‘tighinn’. There are four four-line stanzas and a refrain, beginning ‘O hi ri rì, fàilt’ is furan’. The metre is almost perfect séadna.
(11) Niall Ros. ‘Ag cuimhneachadh ‘s ag ionndrainn’. An Gaidheal, 39 (1943-1944), 52
Four lines from this poem quoted in an account of his internment.
Ross. Armageddon: a fragment.
Armageddon was intended to be part of a much longer epic, but the poet died before it could be completed and this was published posthumously published by his widow. There is a parallel English translation.
Armageddon has as its theme the Second World War. Its
celebration of the
There are two hundred and eighty-eight four-line stanzas in dactylic hexameters: a metre used in classical Greek literature for epic, didactic, philosophical and pastoral poetry. It has also been used by several classical Latin poets.
ROSS, Alasdair. See ROS, Alasdair
ROSS, Kenneth. See ROS, Coinneach
ROSS, Neil. See ROSS, Niall
SEONAID NIGHEAN MHIC GHILLE CHALUIM. See: NIGHEAN MHIC GHILLE CHALUIM
SGEIR-AN-OIR. See ROS, Niall
AN SGIOBAIR. See MACNEACAIL, Iain
SHAW, Angus. See SHAW, Aonghas
SHAW, Aonghas (18th/19th Century)
Aonghas Shaw, Aonghas mac an Lighiche,
was a native of Lyndale in Skye. He served as a soldier during the
Peninsular War and after leaving the army went to live in
committed to writing but his wife sold the manuscript for five pounds.
(Information from the Rev. A. MacLean Sinclair (Sinclair 1896:111-112) ).
do Bhean Liandail ‘s an Eilein Sgidheanach a dh’ eug ‘s a’ bhliadhna 1818’. The
MacDonald Collection of Gaelic Poetry.
Edited by the Revs. A. and A. MacDonald.
An elegy for Jane Craigdallie, wife of Colonel Alexander MacDonald of Lynedale and Balranald, who died in 1818. There are seven sixteen-line stanzas, beginning with ‘Tha naigheachd chianail / An diugh ‘s na criochan’. The metre is similar to that of Donnchadh Bàn’s ‘Oran Coire a’ Cheathaich’.
From Neil MacLeod’s article, ‘Beagan Dhuilleag bho Sheann Bhàrdachd Eilean-a-Cheò (TGSI, 21:171-186). A light-hearted poem in which the poet, as a young soldier, addresses his gun as a spouse. One of the best-known
examples of this
genre is Donnchadh Bàn’s
There are six eight-line stanzas,
beginning with ‘Tha ‘n oidhche
‘n nochd gle fhuar’. The metre
similar to that of ‘
ii Mac-Talla (8th December 1894), p. 8
iii TGSI, 21 (1896-1897), 182-185
Gaelic Bards from 1775 to 1825. Edited
by the Rev. A. MacLean Sinclair.
Composed at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The poet castigates Napoleon with a vigour somewhat reminiscent of Iain Lom, but politically the two poets are very different. Aonghas Shaw’s song has no real sense of a Scottish or Gaelic identity.
The first version is from Magnus
MacLean’s ‘Skye Bards’ (Highland
Monthly, 4:745-760). Magnus
MacLean notes that it “appeared in one of the
The second version was sent to Mac-Talla by Domhnull
Domhnullach, Domhnull Mac Phadruig ‘ic Alasdair, a native of Uig in
Skye who had emigrated to
The fourth version, has nine
stanzas, beginning with ‘ ‘
The metre is similar to that of the poet’s ‘Marbhrann do Bhean Liandail’.
(4) Mac-a-Lighich. ‘
A love song for Màiri Bhàn NicLeòid which has many echoes of the classical dánta grá tradition. There are seven eight-line stanzas, beginning with ‘Na faighinn gille gun dàil’, in an amhran metre.
A lively song, in which the personification of whisky boasts of his influence over people. In a note (pp. lviii-lix) the editors express some doubt concerning the song’s authorship.
There are seven eight-line stanzas, beginning with ‘Moch ‘s mi ‘g éirigh air bheag éislein’. The first four lines of each stanza have a quatrain structure with the second four lines having a strophic structure. This device of using different metrical forms within one stanza is a common one in European song: see pp. 212 ff. of W. P. Ker’s Form and Style in Poetry (London, 1928).
(6) Aonghas Shaw. ‘Tha ‘m bard Connanach gu tinn’. TGSI, 21 (1896-1897), 181-182
From Neil MacLeod’s article, ‘Beagan Dhuilleag bho Sheann Bhàrdachd Eilean-a-Cheò (TGSI, 21:171-186). A quatrain said to have been composed to a drunken fellow poet in an inn in Dunvegan. Other versions of this quatrain, and the story associated with it, are associated with An Clàrsair Dall (Matheson 1970: liii-lvi).
SILEAS NIGHEAN MHIC GHILLE CHALUIM. See: NIGHEAN MHIC GHILLE CHALUIM.
‘THE SKYE SOLDIER’. See MACLEOID, Murchadh
SHUTHARLAN, Ealasaid (20th Century)
From Portnalong in Skye
‘A’ cuimhneachadh an Eilein Sgiathanaich: tri orain’. Gairm, 150 (An t-Earrach 1990), 121-124.
The three songs are: ‘Is mise nochd a’ mhiannaicheadh’, ‘An raoir a bhruadair mi gur eun mi’ and ‘Chuala sibh mar mheall iad Adhamh’.
TEARLACH A’ PHOSTA. See MACMHATHAIN, Tearlach
TORMOD SAIGHDEAR. See MACLEOD, Norman (1773-1858)
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