Gaelic Literature of the Isle of Skye: an annotated bibliography

 

Traditional poets and songmakers: H L

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IAIN DUBH MAC IAIN IC AILEIN (17th / 18th Century)

 

Iain Dubh Mac Iain Ic Ailein, John MacDonald, appears to have belonged to the Morar branch of Clanranald. He lived in Gruilean in Eigg and, according to the Rev. A. MacLean Sinclair, may have been a Roman Catholic.

 

Biographical references:

 

i Revs. A. and A. MacDonald. Clan Donald. Vol. 3 (MacDonald and MacDonald 1904:575

 

ii John MacKenzie. Sr-Obair nam Brd Gaelach (MacKenzie 1872:68)

 

iii Rev. William Matheson. (TGSI, 38:528 ; TGSI, 41:14)

 

iv Rev. A. MacLean Sinclair. Comhchruinneachadh Ghlinn-a-Bhird (Sinclair 1890:42)

 

v J. L. Campbell. Canna (Campbell 1984:201-202.

 

Professor Derick Thomson has described Iain Dubh as a competent poet , one of the aos-dna. Prof. Thomson points out that most of Iain Dubhs extant poems are dated to the years before and after Sheriffmuir (1715) and that two of the poems attributed to Iain Dubh in John MacKenzies Sr-Obair nam Brd Gaelach

are in fact by Iain MacAilein (Thomson 1977:148, 313). The poems in question are Marbhrann do Shir Iain Mac-Illeain and Crosdhanachd Fhir nan Druimnean (MacKenzie 1872: 70-72, 74-75).

 

Poems by Iain Dubh have been included in a number of anthologies and in 1994 an edition of the ten poems attributable to him was published. In 2001 three were included in an anthology of 18th Century Scottish Gaelic verse (see below).

 

Collections:

 

(1) Colm Baoill (fear-deas.). Iain Dubh: Orain a rinn Iain Dubh mac Iain mhic Ailein. Obar-dheathan: An Cl Gaidhealach, 1994. 90 dd.

 

Editions of the ten songs attributable to Iain Dubh, along with notes on their texts, metres and tunes. I have not had sight of this book. Reviewed by Coinneach D. MacDhmhnaill in Gairm (172:378-379).

 

(2) Ronald Black (editor). An Lasair: anthology of 18th Century Scottish Gaelic verse. Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2001.

 

Includes texts of three poems by Iain Dubh, along with parallel English translations and notes by the editor: ran nam Fineachan (pp. 38-47, 379-382), Marbhrann do dhAilean Dearg (pp. 54-59, 387-388), ran do Raghnall Mac Mhic Ailein (pp. 72-77, 393-396). The texts of the poems are from Colm Baoills edition (see above).

 

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IAIN-MOR-BUACHAILL. See MACPHERSON, John

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LACHLANN MAC THEARLAICH OIG (1665-1734)

 

Lachlan MacKinnon, Lachlann Mac Therlaich Oig, was born in Strath, Skye. He was one of the sons of Charles MacKinnon, Terlach Og Mac Therlaich, of the family of MacKinnon of Strath.

 

Lachlan showed a talent for verse from an early age and that, coupled with an amiable disposition, made him very popular at social gatherings. He lost his first wife, to whom he was devoted, when she was young and left Skye with his little daughter to live for a time on the mainland before returning to Skye to live on the farm of Breakish.

 

In spite of an unhappy second marriage, the poet was still renowned for his hospitality and friendship. He was a good huntsman and also an excellent fiddler. His songs and witty sayings remained long within oral tradition.

 

Lachlann Mac Therlaich Oig died in 1734 at the age of sixty-nine and was buried in Kilchrist. His funeral was one of the largest ever seen in Skye.

 

The above information came from two accounts of the life of the poet: one by the Rev. Alexander MacGregor in both Gaelic and English (An Gaidheal, 3:120-121, 145-148; Celtic Magazine, 1:91-94) and one by the Rev. D. Lamont in his account of Strath (Lamont 1913:112-119). While each account contains some material not

found in the other they are fairly compatible. A third account, from John MacKenzie, relates an incident concerning the birth of Lachlans daughter which does not fit in with either of the other two accounts (MacKenzie 1872: 80).

 

(1) Bhiodag thubaisteach

 

i Comhchruinneacha do dh Orain Taghta Ghaidhealach. Deasaichte le Paruig Mac-an-Tuairneir. Duneidionn: T. Stiubhard, 1813, dd. 339-342.

 

ii Sr-Obair nam Brd Gaelach. Edited by John MacKenzie. Edinburgh: MacLachlan and Stewart, 1872 (1st edition 1841), pp. 83-84

 

iii An Lasair: anthology of 18th Century Scottish Gaelic verse. Edited by Ronald Black. Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2001. pp. 12-19, 367-371.

 

The first version appears anonymously, but the second version, entitled Sgian dubh an sprgain chain, is attributed to Lachlann Mac Therlaich Oig. There are sufficient differences between the two versions to allow for the possibility that MacKenzie had a source other than Mac-an-Tuairneirs collection. The third version is entitled Sgian dubh an sprgain chaim and has a parallel English translation by the editor with extensive notes.

 

There are twelve stanzas, beginning Dh innsinn sgeul mu n mhalairt duibh. The metrical pattern is the same as that of the poets Latha siubhal slibhe. It seems likely that these two songs, so different in mood and theme, were composed upon the same tune.

 

(2) Lachunn Mac Therlaich. Cram nam Bantraichean. Sr-Obair nam Brd Gaelach. Edited by John MacKenzie. Edinburgh: MacLachlan and Stewart, 1872 (1st edition 1841), p. 84

 

John MacKenzie notes that this song was composed by the poet upon hearing that a friend of his was about to marry a rich old widow. No doubt his own unfortunate second marriage had something to do with the views expressed in the song.

 

There are eight verse-couplets and a four-line refrain: Hug hoireann ho-ro hura-bho / Bidh cram air na bantraichean.

 

(3) Cumha Mhic Leid

 

i Cochruinneacha Taoghta de Shaothair nam Bard Gaeleach. Edited by Alexander and Donald Stewart. Duneidin: T. Stiuart, 1804, pp. 411-415

 

ii The Gaelic Bards from 1411 to 1715. Edited by the Rev. A. MacLean Sinclair. Charlottetown: Haszard and Moore, 1890, pp. 162-165

 

iii The MacDonald Collection of Gaelic Poetry. Edited by the Revs. A. and A. MacDonald. Inverness: Northern Counties, 1911, pp. 148-149

 

A lament for John MacLeod of Talisker, son of Sir Roderick MacLeod of Talisker, who died in 1700. This John MacLeod is also the subject of a lament by An Clrsair Dall (Matheson 1970:74-79, 146-148).

 

While being within the tradition of Gaelic elegy, this lament is less formal in style than some similar compositions by Lachlans contemporary, Iain Dubh Mac Iain ic Ailein. As with An Clrsair Dalls lament there is a real sense of personal grief.

 

(4) 'Latha Siubhal Slibhe'

 

i Comh-chruinneachidh Orannaigh Gaidhealach. Le Raonuill MacDomhnuill. [Eigg Collection]. Duneidiunn: Walter Ruddiman, 1776, pp.93-96.

 

ii Cochruinneacha Taoghta de Shaothair nam Bard Gaeleach. Edited by Alexander and Donald Stewart. Duneidin: T. Stiuart, 1804, pp. 488-494.

 

iii Sr-Obair nam Brd Gaelach. Edited by John MacKenzie. Edinburgh: MacLachlan and Stewart, 1872 (1st edition 1841), pp. 81-82

 

iv Brdachd Ghidhlig. Edited by William J. Watson. 2nd ed. Stirling: A. Learmonty & Son, 1932 (1st. ed. 1918), pp. 144-149.

 

Perhaps the most celebrated of Lachlann's extant poems, this may owe something to the Irish 'aisling' poems. Here the poet encounter three weeping sisters who speak of great men of the recent past. There is a poignant expression of the sonse of the passing of an old order.

 

 

(5) 'Oran do Nighean Fhir Gheambail'

 

i Comh-chruinneachidh Orannaigh Gaidhealach. Le Raonuill MacDomhnuill. [Eigg Collection]. Duneidiunn: Walter Ruddiman, 1776, pp.239.241.

 

ii Co-chruinneachadh Nuadh do dh' Oranniobh Gaidhealach. Inbhirneis: Eoin Young, 1806, pp. 115-117.

 

iii Co'-chruinneachadh de dh' Oranan Taogbhta. Glasgow: Duncan MacVean, 1836, pp. 30-32.

 

iv Sr-Obair nam Brd Gaelach. Edited by John MacKenzie. Edinburgh: MacLachlan and Stewart, 1872 (1st edition 1841), pp. 82-83.

 

v The Gaelic Melodist. Edited by John MacKenzie. Edinburgh: D. R. Collie, n.d., pp. 12-13.

 

vi Comhchruinneacha do dh'Orain Thaghta Ghaidhealach. Edited by Gilleasbuig Meinne. Glasgow: W. G Blackie, 1870, pp. 169-171.

 

A love song in the spirit of the Irish dnta gr, it dwells on the lady's beauty and avows the poet's suffering, which he is quite sure will not be fatal!

 

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Abbreviations

 

Traditional: known authorship

A-C D-Domhnall Domhnallach-Dz EG HL MMacA MacBMacC MacD MacE-MacK, MacLa-MacLeod MacLeid A-H MacLeid 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 Dhghlas Tormod Domhnallach Marjory Kennedy-Fraser Angus Lamont K. N. MacDonald Johan MacInnes Hugh MacKinnon Calum I. MacLean Sorley MacLean Kenneth MacLeod Niall MacLeid Miri Nighean Alasdair

Cairistiona Mhrtainn 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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