Gaelic Literature of the Isle of Skye: an annotated  bibliography   


Traditional poets and songmakers:  MacD







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MACDHOMHNAILL, ---? of Kensaleyre


No other information about this songmaker than that in Orain an Eilein (see below).


‘Mi ‘m shuidh’ an seo gad chuimhneachadh’.  Orain an Eilein.  Cairistiona Mhàrtainn.  An t-Eilean Sgiatheanach: Taigh nan Teud, 2001, pp. 73..


A sad song of unrequited love.  Six eight-line verses.  A note (p. 126) states that it was composed by a Dòmhnallach of Kensaleyre for Raonaid Ròs of Marishader.  Words and tune are from Eòin Dòmhnallach.









MACDHONNCHAIDH, Niall  (19th Century)


Niall MacDhonnchaidh, Niall Pìobaire, belonged to Breakish in Strath.  Every autumn between 1860 and 1870 he went to the Lothians to work at the harvest.  Besides being a bard, he was a noted piper.


(Information from Tormod Domhnallach’s article ‘Dioghlum bho Achaidhean na Bàrdachd’ (Gairm, 53:29-42) )


Niall MacDhonnchaidh.  ‘Iad a’ falbh leis a’ phort phìoba’.  Gairm, 53 (An Geamhradh 1965), 34-37.


One day, while working at the harvest, the poet watched a company of soldiers marching past on their way to Balmoral with a piper at their head playing ‘Siùbhlaidh mis’ an rathad-mór’, the Stuart kings’ marching song.  That evening, he had composed his song.  The contrast between the refrain, with its pride in the military splendour of the marchers, and the stanzas, with their description of the seasonal worker’s condition, has a simple poignancy.


There are five four-line stanzas, beginning ‘Ta mise so an Lodaidh’,  with a strophic structure.



MACDONALD, ---? of Viewfield.  See NICDHOMHNAILL, ---? of Viewfield.



MACDONALD, Alexander  (obit. 1795)


Sir Alexander MacDonald, seventeenth Chief and first Baron of Sleat, was the brother of Sir James MacDonald, the ‘Scottish Marcellus’.  On the occasion of Dr. Johnson’s visit to him in 1773 he composed an ode of welcome in Latin, which has been presented by Keith Norman MacDonald in MacDonald Bards from Medieval Times (MacDonald 1929: 37).


Lord MacDonald is known to have entertained the celebrated Irish harper Ó Cathain.  He was an accomplished violinist and composed a number of strathspeys and reels, among them ‘Lord MacDonald’s Reel’.


All of the songs listed below are associated with the tune of ‘Lord MacDonald’s Reel’.  I doubt that Lord MacDonald composed the words as well as the tune, although Keith Norman MacDonald seems to have believed that he did, at least in the case of the first one listed.


(Information from Keith Norman MacDonald’s MacDonald Bards from Medieval Times (MacDonald 1929: 36-37) and Alexander Nicolson’s History of Skye (Nicolson 1930: 285-287)).


(1)   ‘A Mhòrag nighean Dhòmhnaill duinn’


i     MacDonald Bards from Medieval Times.  Keith Norman MacDonald.  Glasgow: Alex. MacLaren and Sons, 1929 (first printed 1900), p. 37.


ii    Puirt-a-Beul – Mouth Tunes.  Edited by Keith Norman MacDonald.  Glasgow: Alex. MacLaren and Sons, 1931 (first printed 1901), pp. 16-17.


In MacDonald Bards K. N. MacDonald cites Alexander Carmichael as his source.  In Puirt-a-Beul the tune is given in tonic sol-fa notation.


(2)  ‘Dannsaidh na coilich dhubh’;  ‘Ruidhlidh na coilich dhubha’


i     Puirt-a-Beul – Mouth Tunes.  Edited by Keith Norman MacDonald.  Glasgow: Alex. MacLaren and Sons, 1931 (first printed 1901), p.17, 26, 55.


ii    Puirt mo Sheanmhar.  Edited by T. D. M. [T. D. MacDonald].  Struibhle: Aonghas MacAoidh, 1907, p. 17


(3)  ‘Tha smeòrach ‘s a’ mhaduinn chiùin’


i     Puirt-a-Beul – Mouth Tunes.  Edited by Keith Norman MacDonald.  Glasgow: Alex. MacLaren and Sons, 1931 (first printed 1901), p.17.


ii    Songs of the Hebrides.  Edited by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and Kenneth MacLeod.  3rd vol.  London: Boosey and Co., 1921, pp. 114-116.


The second version has Mrs. Kennedy-Fraser’s arrangement of the tune in staff notation, and is attributed to Lord MacDonald.




MACDONALD, ---? of Kensaleyre.  See MACDHOMHNAILL, ---? of Kensaleyre.






MACDONALD, Calum (of Runrig).  See DOMHNALLACH, Calum and Ruairidh, in section ‘The New Poetry’



MACDONALD, Catherine.  See: NICDHOMHNAILL, Catrìona



MACDONALD, Donald (16th/17th Century).  See DOMHNALL MAC IAIN ‘IC SHEUMAIS.






MACDONALD, Donald  (early 19th Century)


Donald MacDonald lived in very poor circumstances in Earlish.  He worked for a time as a missionary in Peterhead, at the invitation of the fishermen there.


(Information from Roderick MacCowan’s Men of Skye (MacCowan 1902: 172-174).


(1)   Donald MacDonald.  ‘Turus do Shrathnaran’.  Men of Skye.  Roderick MacCowan.  Glasgow: John MacNeilage, 1902, pp. 225-227.


Account of a visit to Strathnaran and the state of religion among the people there.  Sixteen four-line stanzas beginning ‘An turus thug mise Shrathnaran’.   The metre is very irregular.


(2)   Donald MacDonald.  ‘Na h-Oighean’.  Men of Skye.  Roderick MacCowan.  Glasgow: John MacNeilage, 1902, pp. 227-228.


Based upon the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins.  There are five-line stanzas in a strophic metre; and a refrain of two lines: ‘Nach ùr an ceòl an tusair òir / Dheanadh na h-òighean a ghleusadh.


(3)   Donald MacDonald.  ‘Teicheadh gu Criosd’.  Men of Skye.  Roderick MacCowan.  Glasgow: John MacNeilage, 1902, pp. 228-229


Composed at a waulking in the poet’s house when he disapproved of the matter of the women’s song.  As printed here, the four stanzas are in quatrain form.  There is a four-line refrain, beginning ‘O hò teichibh, o hù teichibh’.



MACDONALD, Flora (of Tote).  See: DHOMHNULLACH, Flori



MACDONALD, Rev. Hugh  (1703-1756)


Hugh MacDonald was a grandson of Sir James MacDonald, X of Sleat and a nephew of An Ciaran Mabach.  He became the first minister of Portree when it was instituted as a parish separate from Snizort and Uig.


(Information from Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, 7 (Scott 1928: 173) and Clan Donald (MacDonald and MacDonald 1904:524-525) ).


Rev. Hugh MacDonald.  Oran Sugradh’.  Albyn’s Anthology.  Vol. 2.  Edited by Alexander Campbell.  Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1818, pp. 78-79.


Alexander Campbell noted down this song in 1815 from the singing of Donald Nicolson of Scorrybreck, a friend of the composer.  Keith Norman MacDonald’s discussion of the melody and style in which the song is sung is worth reading

(MacDonald 1904: 47).


In Albyn’s Anthology there is one fourteen-line stanza beginning ‘Nuair a thig an samhra’ bi’dh danns’ again agus ceòl’ with a fourteen-line chorus.  Campbell promised further stanzas in a projected third volume of  Albyn’s Anthology, but this never appeared and we are left with only part of what appears to have been a very entertaining song.



MACDONALD, John (17th / 18th Century.  See IAIN DUBH MAC IAIN ‘IC AILEIN



MACDONALD, John  (19th Century).  See DOMHNALLACH, Iain



MACDONALD, John (20th/21st Century).  See DOMHNALLACH, Eòin












MACDONALD, Rory.  MACDONALD, Calum (of Runrig).  See DOMHNALLACH, Calum and Ruairidh, in section ‘The New Poetry’






















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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