Patrimonial Possessions of the Ancients

Standard of Ranald Alexander Macdonald of Clanranald, 24th Chief and Captain of Clanranald.
Standard of Ranald Alexander Macdonald of Clanranald, 24th Chief and Captain of Clanranald.

Seventeen hundred years exactly,
And fifteen years directly close,
From the birth of God to the death of Allan,
Whoever should enquire.

Our importuning of the Chief over heaven,
Grant, O Mary, O Son, our request.
That he be in heaven of the angelic orders,
If it be the will of our Lord.

To the abode of the pure angels
Is the journey for his soul;
It is not right to be sorrowful after him,
It is sufficient to remember our first redemption.

Such as have remained with us of his princely blood,
May the king of the elements well direct them,
And bring them to obtain their property by right,
And defend them against the power of the enemy.

Young Ranald, our country’s chief,
May he come with a right royal intention,
To the patrimonial possessions of the ancients
To awaken the spirit of the warriors.

The King who redeemed all people —
We implore Him to send prosperity in our time,
And to send [Ranald] to our presence over the wave,
Since the nobility of our wishes has fallen.

Excerpt of Elegy of Allan of Clanranald from the Book of Clanranald.

There has fallen a pillar of the race of Conn;
‘Tis a misfortune to the good blood of (Clan) Donald,
Their men are confused with anguish,
which has completely broken the warriors of the Gael.

The light of Clan Colla has been lowered,
Which watched the course of their exploits;
‘Tis a cause of melancholy to the people,
The death of the heir of the lords of Clanranald.

The race of Conn are in heart consumption
For the loss of the courteous presence of one man;
There are heroes in sorrow in the towns of Brigia
For the glory of the valour of the Gael.

‘Tis a loss to the nobles of Ben-Brigia
And death to the valour of the Gael —
This death-blow to the descendant of Conn in the fight;
Terrible it is to us and a burning bare.

The death of Allan in the battle he gained
Was a slaughter on the men of Uist;
Through thinking on the pains of his wounds
There is not the strength of a woman in our warriors.

Our Mainland does not treat of its interest
On account of the leader of the army of the race of Fergus;
Every one is in pain lamenting him,
And the call of every woman is confused.

From the Mull of Kintyre to Orkney there is not
A man that is not deprived of power from his pain;
Every fair one enquired after has become gray
Solely on account of the Lord of Uist.

The fall of our chief in the battle
Has deprived the Gael of bravery;
Victory was gained for a time by the other army
On account of his being dead in the field.

‘Tis an impediment to the nobles of Scotland
The death of Macdonald, the goodly and brave;
To the ratification of peace or a cause of war
Was the only leisure time they obtained.

To his own blood it is a matter of pride
To have his heroic deeds spoken of;
Their heroes refused not kindness to the poor,
They were like wells of comfort and humbleness.

Their wisdom went behind [i.e., is lost],
On them fortune has turned her back;
Pure armed heroes of the Clann Colla,
Unlively is the wail of their lament.

The mountains are issuing one by one
Snow, wind, and frozen sleet;
And warmth shall not be in our land henceforth
On account of the death of Allan, the ever honest.

The wind blows fiercely, noisily, steeply,
And the sea responds to it very briskly,
The loud roaring of the waves falling,
And pools are flooded at dry towns.

Since the death of the heir of the sunny land.
Memorable has been our condition in the bad year;
For in it there was no fruit in woods,
But the trees bare up to the very tops.

The salmon were in the pools lying,
In the centre of the frozen flags of ice;
The well-sown seed [grass?] of every land without growing,
And birds did not bring forth young through dismay.

Since our chief has gone to his grave, there exists
Highway violence, the opposition to every good act;
And from the fruits of the bountiful land
Little has been obtained on account of his departure.

By the death of the mild Cormac, son of Art,
Ireland was without consolation,
Constantly lamenting him throughout the territories,
And there was deep anguish throughout Ireland.

Flathri, son of Fitheall, put on record
The dispositions and good acts
Of the grandson of Conn after his death,
As he obtained a share of his Royal Bounty.

By us are due the lawful debts,
Consequent on the death of the Clanranald chief:
We abandon music, we sleep not aright,
And the wound in our heart cannot be comforted.

More lamentable than the departure of their fathers
Is the death of the last heirs;
Hearing the purport of the ancient verses
Hath set the recollections of my heart astray.

The desire of Cormac of the house of Tara
Possessed the descendant of John of good mind;
He is remembered with great pleasure
Exchanging jewels of singular price.

Some of the wishes of the son of Moire were,
When nobles assembled,
That they be well worded, modest, peaceful,
Agreeable, quiet, and well-ordered.

Another desire that should neither be concealed,
Was to be at the head of a glorious host,
To satisfy every chief’s mind,
And his followers to have plenty battles.

Playing music and inditing poems,
Practising the order of every art,
The attentive study of the military books of heroes,
And dogs fully effective for deer.

To us our time is not cheerful,
Mournful is our eyes continually weeping;
The death of Conn’s descendant of the golden armour
Hath separated from us our ruler.

Every one is in the pangs of death
Since the chief of our protection departed;
Our beloved, the condition he is in,
And our slain in Inverpephry.

Many an act of danger and ingenuity,
Of hospitality, nobility, and excellency,
Are entombed in his resting-place.
Our sure ark of the united party.

Since the garment closed round the body of O’ Conn,
Our power has fallen without hope of recovery;
The deep sorrow of the Gael of the deeds of valour,
The like is not related for any one man.

The deeds of Felim’s son (Conn), the great, the active,
We have heard the account as it is written;
If true, they correctly resemble
The victorious deeds of our good chieftain.

At the end of ten years, it is said,
The noble son of Felim marched
To fight against Caithar Mor,
Without using treachery or dissimulation.

Caithar was defeated by Conn
At Magh h-Aga of the heavy wounds,
In which the Leinster men of Buighe fell
Through the evil obstinacy of fighting.

The son of Felim Rectmor gained
Victory in every battle by hard fighting,
From the first year of his life
Through the greatness of his ruling and regal prosperity.

In the reign of Conn, as I have heard,
Ireland of the fair-green land yielded
Full hundred fold produce of its fruits,
Which got him praise for good effects and mercy.

The sons of Milé united
In the race of Conn fighting with sharp blades;
The Clann Colla were in the action with valour,
And our choice of them was the last.

The heir of the race of pure streams,
Who commanded his clan for a time;
Justice was administered by law,
And sensible champions controlling it.

Our Conn without any mistake of fortune was he,
Our calm chief of peace,
And our nobility of race in bravery,
And the ancient organiser of the free clans.

The sons of Milé themselves and they not living,
The race of Conn and Colla are equally lost,
The Clann Donald following after them,
Our sorrow being for the royal blood of Ranald.

The race of the Gael of valourous deeds
Have set our senses into confusion;
They are away from us in strange countries
Without a prospect of seeking their native land.

Such of our princes as have not departed from us
Have long since become exiles,
Without an expectation of possessions in Scotland,
Or to assume their paternal name.

The scarcity of professors among the race of Conn
Has awakened the want of our instruction
Throughout the expanse of the world
And over the blue land of the Gael.

We have been without the pleasures of music or games,
Without any opportunity of learning instruction,
On account of the strife in our beautiful country,
And without treating of the tribes of warriors.

The want of one man above all others
Has lost to us the knowledge of enquiry;
For ever without the language of books
In the usual Gaelic literature.

From contemplating on the elegy
Of the sole protector of the men of arts,
The flow of my eyes bedims my sight;
So our grief is insufferable.

Every man with anguish in his heart,
And there is no tribe of the choice princely line
Living together since his body was interred
And the last of the Fiann are without consolation.

The day of judgment is coming as it has been deserved,
No one has received a foreknowledge when it will.
That people may receive their judgment variously,
May want of severity characterise it for the clans of Scotland.

Death has extinguished our gladness,
Since the day our lord departed,
When he engaged in the adverse encounter,
Which is our grievous, unhealing wound.

He is the death wound of the pure Gael,
To his vindictive foes it is gladness;
The time of incitement to victory for our enemies
Has commenced the presage of our want of joy.

The men of the Gaels from wave to wave [from shore to shore],
Since the death of the Captain of Clanranald,
Have no shepherd as a protection to them
Since their only defending chief departed.

The valorous Pride of the Clann Colla
Is in a coffin at Inverpeffery,
The cause of our free gifts and our lucky journeys
Is laid to rest at the doors of Drummond.

Seventeen hundred years exactly,
And fifteen years directly close,
From the birth of God to the death of Allan,
Whoever should enquire.

Our importuning of the Chief over heaven,
Grant, O Mary, O Son, our request.
That he be in heaven of the angelic orders,
If it be the will of our Lord.

To the abode of the pure angels
Is the journey for his soul;
It is not right to be sorrowful after him,
It is sufficient to remember our first redemption.

Such as have remained with us of his princely blood,
May the king of the elements well direct them,
And bring them to obtain their property by right,
And defend them against the power of the enemy.

Young Ranald, our country’s chief,
May he come with a right royal intention,
To the patrimonial possessions of the ancients
To awaken the spirit of the warriors.

The King who redeemed all people —
We implore Him to send prosperity in our time,
And to send [Ranald] to our presence over the wave,
Since the nobility of our wishes has fallen.

There has fallen a pillar of the race of Conn.

Elegy of Allan of Clanranald, slain at Sheriffmuir 1715, from the Book of Clanranald.

Curator: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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