Gaelic Literature of the
Traditional poets and songmakers: MacE - MacK
This page is best viewed on a desktop or laptop PC
MACFARLANE, Malcolm. See MACPHARLAIN, Calum.
MACFHEARGHAIS, Fearghas (19th Century)
A native of Skye who removed to
Fearghas MacFhearghais. ‘An t-Eilean Sgiathanach’. Mac-Talla (20th February 1897), p. 256.
Composed when the poet was living
There are ten eight-line stanzas beginning with ‘Tha m’ inntinn trom ‘s re airsnealach’. The metre is similar, though not identical, to that of Niall MacLeòid’s ‘An gleann ‘san robh mi òg’.
MACFHEARGHAIS, Fionnlagh (20th Century)
A native of Skye
Fionnlagh MacFhearghais (Eilean a’ Cheò). Orain Ghàidhlig. Glascho: Alasdair Mac Labhruinn ‘s a Mhic, [192-]. 7d.
According to a notice in Alex. MacLaren’s 1928 catalogue, the three songs in this booklet were specially composed for Ceilidh nan Gaidheal, Glasgow: a Gaelic cultural association
Underlines the social function of Ceilidh nan Gaidheal as a meeting place for exiled Gaels. There are ten four-line strophic stanzas and a refrain, beginning ‘Is toigh leam còmhlan a’ chéilidh’.
An interesting little piece of social history with the poet expressing strong disapproval of the new women’s fashions. There are twelve quatrains and a refrain, beginning ‘A chaileag ghreanmhor o hì’.
iii ‘Moladh na Gruaige (In praise of the Un-Bobbed)’, pp. 6-7
Here the poet praises those women who do not adopt the new fashions. There are nine four-line stanzas and a refrain, beginning ‘A mhaighdean bhòidheach, mheall-shuileach’.
MACFHIONGHAIN, Aonghas (1885 – 1957)
The Rev. Angus MacKinnon, An t.Urr.
Aonghas MacFhionghain, was born in Galtrigil, Borreraig, Duirinish, in Skye.
His mother Rachel MacPherson was a native of
(Information from An Tuil: Anthology of 20th Century Gaelic Verse (Black 1999: 734-736)
Black (ed.). An Tuil: Anthology of 20th Century Gaelic Verse.
i Aonghas MacFhionghain. ‘Deireadh Òrdugh Ghleann Dail’, pp. 110-113.
A moving poem on the end of the Glendale Communion. Ten four-line stanzas, beginning ‘O tha mi muladach’. There is a parallel English translation.
ii Aonghas MacFhionghain. ‘Am Mac Stròdhail’, pp. 112-115.
As if composed by the Prodigal Son. Five four-line verses beginning ‘Se dhol do thìr na fàdachd …’ There is a parallel English translation.
MACFHIONGHUIN, Domhnall (19th / 20th Century)
Domhnall MacFhionghuin, Domhnall Fidhleir, belonged to Elgol.
Domhnall MacFhionghuin. ‘Is ann a Sgarbhaig, uchd na fairge’. TGSI, 52 (1980-1982), 192-193.
This song occurs in Neil J. MacKinnon’s article ‘Strath, Skye – the End of the Nineteenth Century’, (TGSI, 52:155-197). The song was composed for the poet’s friend Uisdein, recounting some of his adventures as a soldier. There are three eight-line stanzas in an amhran metre.
MAC FHIONGHAIN, Lachlann. See LACHLANN Mac Theàrlaich Oig
MAC FHIONGHAIN, Teàrlach
Of Kilmuir, Skye.
‘Ho-ró cha bhi mulad òirnn’
i TGSI, 49 (1974-1976), 344-345
From Donald Meek’s article ‘Gaelic Poets of the Land Agitation’ (TGSI, 49:309-376)
ii [Fàilte a’ Choimisein]. Tuath is Tighearna : Tenants and Landlords. Edited by Donald E. Meek.
A song of hope that the Napier Commission would right the wrongs suffered by the crofters. This song was recorded by Miss Jo MacDonald in Kilmuir in 1973. There are four stanzas in quatrain form with a refrain.
MAC FHIONGHAIN, Teàrlach Og (17th Century)
Father of the poet Lachlann Mac Theàrlaich Oig. Teàrlach Og may have been the author of a poem beginning ‘Gun tug mi ionnsaidh bhearraideach’ attributed by John Gillies to ‘An Aigeannach Nighean Domhnaill Ghuirm
MACFHIONNLAIGH, Donnchadh (early 20th Century)
Donnchadh MacFhionnlaigh. ‘
Amusing song of six six-line verses, beginning ‘Chualas feadh na duthcha’. Words from Donny MacKinnon of Bernisdale; tune, in staff notation, from K. C. MacKinnon.
MACGHILL’EATHAIN, Domhnall (1883 - ?)
was born in Camus Tianavaig, Skye in 1883. He worked on the land in his youth, then
Domhnall MacGhill’eathain. ‘Do ‘n Chuilitheann’. Bàird a’ Chomuinn. Deasaichte le Lachlann MacFhionghuin. Glaschu: An Comunn Gàidhealach, 1953, dd. 16-17.
This poem won for its composer the Bardic Crown at the National Mod of 1947. A typical example of the exile song genre: gentle, sentimental and with much description of natural beauty.
There are six eight-line stanzas, beginning ‘A Dhùthaich nam bruach ‘s a Chuilitheann àrd chruach’. It could be described as strophic, with four strophes to the stanza.
MACGILLEATHAIN, Iain (d. 1878)
John MacLean, Iain MacGilleathain, was a sailor of Waternish and, according to Magnus MacLean, he composed several songs. Magnus MacLean ascribes the two songs listed below to him, although both are unascribed in An t-Oranaiche.
(Information from p. 687 of Magnus MacLean’s ‘Skye Bards: Part 1’ (Highland Monthly 4:686-700) and pp. 34-36 of ‘Skye Bards: Part 3’ (Highland Monthly, 5:33-45).)
(1) ‘Thug mi gaol do ‘n t-seòladair’
Deasaichte le Gilleasbuig
ii Orain an Eilein. Cairistiona Mhàrtainn. An t-Eilean Sgiatheanach: Taigh nan Teud, 2001, p.64
As if composed by the poet’s
sweetheart. The first version has
eight eight-line verses beginning ‘Air Feasgar Samhraidh Sabaid dhomh’. For the
tune see Celtic Monthly, 1
(1892-1893), 23; and A’ Choisir-Chiùil (
The second version has six eight-line verses and its source is A’ Choisir-Chiùil
(2) ‘A ho ró, mo Mhàiri lurach’
Deasaichte le Gilleasbuig
ii Orain an Eilein. Cairistiona Mhàrtainn. An t-Eilean Sgiatheanach: Taigh nan Teud, 2001, p.64
An answer to the previous song. The first version has nine stanzas and a refrain in a strophic metre. The second version has four stanzas and a refrain. This second version is from Catriona Dhùghlas’s collection with the tune as Annie Arnott sang it. Although this second version has ‘Mhàiri’ in the title and one of the verses it has ‘phàisde’ in the refrain.
MAC GILLE EATHAIN, Iain (20th Century)
A brother of Somhairle MacGill-Eain, q.v.
Iain Mac Gille Eathain. ‘Dàn éibhinn’. An Gaidheal, 59 (1964), 14.
MACGILL-EAIN, Somhairle. See: Somhairle MacGill-Eain
MACGHILL-IOSA, Domhnall (20th Century)
Domhnall MacGhill-Iosa was
born in Snizort, Skye and worked for many years
Domhnall MacGhilliosa. ‘Cuireadh do na Gaidheil’. Bàird a’ Chomuinn. Deasaichte le Lachlann MacFhionghuin. Glaschu: An Comunn Gaidhealach, 1953, dd. 51-55.
An invitation to exiled Gaels to return to the Gaidhealtachd, this poem won for its composer the Bardic Crown at the National Mod of 1932. There are twenty-eight-line stanzas beginning with ‘A Ghàidheal’ caomh ‘s a dhaoine còir’ in an amhran metre.
MACGHILL-IOSA, Gilleasbuig (19th Century)
Gilleasbuig MacGhill-Iosa was an elder of the Free Church in Snizort. As well as the laments noted below, he apparently composed many hymns which were noted down by the Rev. Roderick MacCowan with a view to publication. Unfortunately the Rev. MacCowan died before this could be done (Gairm, 53:39).
(1) ‘Marbhrann do Mhr. Ruaraidh MacLeòid, Ministear an t-soisgeul a bha ann a’ Sniosart’.
i Marbh-Rann do Dhomhnull Munro, le Iain Morastan, maille ri Marbh-Roinn do Mhr. Ruaraidh MacLeoid, agus do Aonghas Munro, le Gilleasbuig Mac-Gill’-Iosa. Glaschu: Gilleasbuig Mac-na-Ceardadh, 1874, dd. 22-32.
Iochdar-Trotternish and District. William
The Rev. Roderick MacLeod, Maighstir Ruaraidh was the most famous of Skye’s Free Church ministers in the nineteenth century. It is interesting to compare this lament for a religious leader with secular elegies for chiefs and leaders. The values expressed are of course different, but there is the same sense of dependence upon a father-figure, and of a people bereft by his death.
The first version has thirty-seven stanzas, beginning ‘Tha Sgìre Shnisort fuidh bhròn’. The second version has eight stanzas, beginning ‘Tha sgir Shniseart an diugh fo bhròn. The metre is cumha.
(2) ‘Marbhrann do Aonghas Munro’
Marbh-Rann do Dhomhnull Munro, le Iain Morastan, maille ri Marbh-Roinn do Mhr. Ruaraidh MacLeoid, agus do Aonghas Munro, le Gilleasbuig Mac-Gill’-Iosa. Glaschu: Gilleasbuig Mac-na-Ceardadh, 1874, dd. 33-39.
After an apparently wild youth Angus Munro became converted and he and Maighstir Ruaraidh were great friends. This lament has twenty-one stanzas, beginning with ‘Anns an ochdamh ceud deug dhuinn / Trì fichead bliadhn’ ‘s a trì’. The metre is cumha.
MACGHILL- IOSA, Iain (19th Century)
On pp. 38-40 of his ‘Skye Bards: Part III’ (Highland Monthly, 5:33-45, 92-101)
Magnus MacLean quotes in full the poem noted below, preceded by a note to the
effect that John Gillies had been a partner in the printing firm of Archibald
Litir bho Iain Mac-Gil’-Ios’ á
The title-poem, beginning ‘ ‘N uair dh’ fhàg mi Albainn thuathach’, offers no clue as to what the poet’s connection with Skye may have been.
MACGUAIRE, Domhnall (17th / 18th Century)
Domhnall MacGuaire, Domhnall Mac Dhomhnaill ‘ic Lachluinn, a famous piper of Eigg, flourished during the latter seventeenth and early eighteenth century.
Domhnall MacGuaire. ‘Chaitriona nach till thu idir’. Sruth (25th July 1968), p. 5
The piper’s wife, a native of the Isle of Muck, frequently returned there to visit her family. Each time she left, her husband would play a lament. Eoghainn MacFhionghuin (Hugh MacKinnon) relates the story in his article on the piper
and gives two stanzas of the song associated with the tune.
MACGUTHAIN, Am Bard. See MACCUITHEIN, Iain
MACGUTHAIN, Domhnall (c. 1830 – c. 1909)
Domhnall MacGuthain of Garos was related to Iain MacCuithein of Kilmuir, q.v. He was known for his quickness of tongue and keen mind.
(Information from the Rev. Tormod Domhnallach’s introductory notes to the songs Listed below. See also An Gaidheal, 62 (1967), 26-27)
(1) Domhnall MacGuthain. ‘Chuir thu na h-eich chaol a tharraing’. Gairm, 51 (An Samhradh 1965), 276-277.
Composed for Lachlann MacCuinn of Valtos, who had given the poet a day’s ploughing. A fine song, simple and expressive. There are six four-line stanzas, in a strophic metre. Both this and the following two songs are from the Rev. Tormod Domhnallach’s ‘Dioghlum bho Achaidhean na Bàrdachd’ (Gairm, 51:270-278, 53:29-42).
(2) Domhnall MacGuthain. ‘ ‘S toigh leam fhìn an duine gasda’. Gairm, 51 (An Samhradh 1965), 277-278.
A praise song for Teàrlach MacArtair of Eilishader, a descendant of the MacArthur family of pipers. There are seven stanzas in a strophic metre.
(3) Domhnall MacGuthain. ‘ ‘Se ‘m fuachd a dh’ fhairich mi ‘n diugh’. Gairm, 53 (An Geamhradh 1965), 41-42.
A gently satirical song about another Garos man who was continually talking about going away to work, but never getting round to it. Six four-line stanzas in a strophic metre.
MACILLEATHAIN, Alasdair (19th Century)
Alasdair MacIlleathain, Alasdair Dhòmhnaill,
(Information from Donald Meek’s Tuath is Tighearna (Meek 1995:315)
Chreag Mhòr’. ‘MacThàbhais
Tuath is Tighearna:
Tenants and Landlords.
About an encounter in 1883 between
the crofters of
MacIlleathain. ‘Duanag don Triùir Ghàidheal a th’ ann am Prìosan Dhun Eideann’. Tuath is Tighearna: Tenants and Landlords.
About John MacPherson,
the ‘Glendale Martyr’, and his companions imprisoned in
MACILLEATHAIN, Am Bard (Early 19th Century)
This song first appeared in print in Mac-Talla in 1898. The composer belonged to Raasay and
A song with a mood of loneliness
and disillusionment. There are ten eight-line
stanzas beginning ‘ ‘S muladach a tha mi / ‘
MACILLEATHAIN, Iain (20th Century?)
Iain (Kaid) MacIlleathain
was born in Portree to parents from
(Information from Orain an Eilein (Mhàrtainn 2001:131)
(1) Iain (Kaid) MacIlleathain. ‘Eilean mo Chrìdh’. Orain an Eilein. Cairistiona Mhàrtainn. An t-Eilean Sgiatheanach: Taigh nan Teud, 2002, p. 33.
A pleasant exile song. Three four-line verses and a refrain beginning ‘ ‘S truagh nach robh mise’. The music is given in staff notation.
(2) Iain (Kaid) MacIlleathain. ‘A’ fàgail a’ bhàt’ aig Port Rìgh’. Orain an Eilein. Cairistiona Mhàrtainn. An t-Eilean Sgiatheanach: Taigh nan Teud, 2002, p. 33.
Another exile song. Six four-line verses beginning ‘ ‘S ann an Eilean a’ Cheò’. The music is given in staff notation.
MACILLEATHAIN, Murchadh (19th Century)
This poet belonged to Waternish in Skye. He might possibly be the same Murdoch MacLean (q.v.) who composed a poem in praise of Fasach.
MacIlleathain. ‘Do Dhòmhnall
MacCaluim’. Tuath is Tighearna:
Tenants and Landlords.
A song in praise of the Rev. Donald MacCallum, a Church of Scotland minister who was a strong supporter of the crofters during the Land Agitation. There are ten four-line verses and a refrain beginning ‘ ‘S e Dòmhnall MacCaluim / An t-urramach còir’.
MACINNES, Donald (Early 19th Century)
This poet belonged to Diuirinish.
Leoid chaidh air thurus uainn’. Men
of Skye. Roderick MacCowan.
The poem is headed ‘Fragments of a Poem by Donald MacInnes, Diuirinish, on Norman MacLeod, ‘Tormod Saighdear’, longing for his return from Uist. Norman MacLeod was a noted nineteenth century evangelist and also a poet.
There are four four-line stanzas in a strophic metre. The four lines of the refrain have irregular rhyme.
MACINNES, Malcolm (1871 – 1951)
Malcolm MacInnes was born in Sleat,
Skye and emigrated to
(Information from Companion to Gaelic Scotland (Thomson 1983:174) )
(1) Maolcalum MacAonghais. ‘Bruadar Oisein’. Celtic Monthly, 1 (1892-1893), 77.
A long ballad of twenty-three quatrains, beginning ‘Chì mi slìochd an dream tha làmh rium’, in which Ossian dreams of the future military exploits of the Gael. It ends by predicting the triumph of the Gaelic language.
(2) Maolcalum MacAonghuis. ‘Duan nan Gillean-Culaig’. An Rosarnach, 4 (1930), 102-104.
A light-hearted New Year’s song. There are seven eight-line stanzas, beginning with ‘Thainig sinne seo s’ chulaig’.
I am not entirely sure that this poem and the previous one were composed by the author of the works listed below, but I think it likely that they were.
(3) Malcolm MacInnes. Songs of the
These six songs are based on the whole upon traditional metrical models. The last one is based on the model of ‘Thoir mo shoraidh do ‘n taobh-tuath’ by Tormod Domhnallach of Dunhallin, q.v.
i ‘Do ghruaidh tha mar na ròsan’, pp. 1-3
ii ‘Tha ‘n t-Eilean fo mhulad’, pp. 4-6
iii ‘Caidil u o’, pp. 7-8
iv ‘So deòch-slàinte Phrionnsa Teàrlach’, pp. 9-13
v ‘Mo mhac a thuit ‘s a bhlàr’, pp. 14-16
vi ‘Soraidh le Eilean a’ Cheò’, pp. 17-18
MacInnes. Iseabail na h-Airigh: Ishebel
of the Sheiling.
I have not seen this publication. It is listed by Donald John MacLeod (MacLeod 1980:104).
‘Iseabail na h-Airigh’ is a musical play, with thirty-three songs and melodies. The words are in both Gaelic and English and the music is in both staff and sol-fa notations. It was originally published in Am Bard (1901-1902).
(5) Malcolm MacInnes. Traditional Airs of Skye and the
West. With Gaelic and English
As far as the words of the songs in this and Malcolm MacInnes’ other collections are concerned, the question of the authorship of the Gaelic words is somewhat ambiguous. Malcolm MacInnes does not specifically claim or disclaim authorship, but I believe that in most cases he is the author or has freely adapted existing material. The lyrics are pleasant but are closer in style and sentiment to a romantic, non-Gaelic idea of what Gaelic song should be, rather than to traditional Gaelic song.
i ‘The Clan Foray: A’ Chreach’, pp. 1-3
ii ‘My Love is True: Tha m’ leannan dileas’, pp. 4-5 (modelled upon ‘Mo rùn geal dileas)
iii ‘Every Day Brings Joy to Me: Ged tha mi gun chrodh gun aighean’, pp. 6-7
iv ‘Long and Dreary: Hilleanu’, pp. 8-9
v ‘The Farewell: Dia biodh maille riut’, pp. 10-11
vi ‘Ho! my blue eyed maiden: Ho mo nigh’n donn bhoidheach’, pp. 12-13
vii ‘O’er the sundering ocean: Nunn thar farsuinneachd chuantan’, pp. 14-15
viii ‘Away in the Isles: An Eilean mu thuath’, pp. 16-17
ix ‘Once I loved a lassie: Uair bha agam leannan’, pp. 18-19
x ‘O sleep you my babe: O caidil gu laghach’, pp. 20-21
xi ‘Sweet the maid of hazel grove: ‘S toigh leam cruinneag dhonn nan bo’, pp. 22-24
xii ‘Quick rise the spring breezes: Bras sgriob air gaoith faiollich’, pp. 25-26
MACINTOSH, Alexander. See MAC AN TOISICH, Alasdair
MACINTOSH, Farquahar. See MAC AN TOISICH, Fearchar
MACINTYRE, Angus. See MAC AN T-SAOIR, Aonghas
MACINTYRE, John (19th Century)
A missionary in Sconser, Skye.
John MacIntyre. ‘Marbhrann’. Life and Work: Na Duilleagan Gàidhlig (1888: Aireamh 3), 11.
An elegy for the Rev. Donald MacKinnon, who died in 1888. The Rev. MacKinnon was the last of a famous hereditary succession of ministers of the parish of Strath, Skye, the first being his grandfather, a grandson of the poet, Lachlann Mac Theàrlaich Oig (Lamont 1913:96; Nicolson 1930:358).
There are seven four-line stanzas, beginning with ‘Tha srath Mhic Fhionghain an diugh fo bhròn’. This elegy was reprinted in Na Duilleagan Gàidhlig of 1938 (1:11-12) along with an anonymous elegy for the Rev. Donald MacKinnon
beginning ‘Fhuair mi naigheachd a chràidh mi’.
MACKAY, Donald. See MACAOIDH, Domhnall
MACKILLOP, Donald. See MACPHILLIP, Domhnall
MACKINLEY, Duncan. See MACFHIONNLAIGH, Donnchadh
MACKINNON, Angus. See MACFHIONGHAIN, Aonghas
MACKINNON, Charles. See MACFHIONGHAIN, Teàrlach
MACKINNON, Donald. See MACFHIONGHUIN, Domhnall
MACKINNON, Hugh (1894 – 1972)
Hugh MacKinnon, Eoghainn MacFhionghuin, belonged to Cleadale in Eigg and was a distinguished tradition bearer.
Hugh MacKinnon. ‘’S ó tha mi ‘n diugh trom fo lionn-dubh’. Tocher, 10 (Summer 1973), 78-80.
This song, composed in the early 1960’s, has a theme frequently found in traditional poetry of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The poet visits a spot which reminds him of the joys of youth and friends long vanished. In this case, the friends who never returned had gone to fight in the First World War.
There are eight stanzas in quatrain form, with a three-line refrain. There is an English translation and the tune is given in staff notation.
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