Song of the Highland Clans

Oran Nam Fineachan Gaidhealach.
Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair

A chomuinn rìoghail rùnaich
Sàr-ùmhlachd thugaibh uaibh,
Biodh ur roisg gun smùirnein,
‘S gach cridh’ gun treas gin lùib ann;
Deoch-slàinte Sheumais Stiùbhairt
Gu mùirneach cuir mu’n cuairt!
Ach ma ta giamh air bith ‘nur stamaig,
A’ chailis naomh na truaill.
Lìon deoch-slàinte Theàrlaich,
A mheirlich! stràic a’ chuach!
B’ì siod an ìocshlàint’ àluinn
Dh’ath-bheòthaicheadh mo chàileachd,
Ged a bhiodh am bàs orm,
Gun neart, gun àgh, gun tuar —
Rìgh nan dùl a chur do chàbhlaich
Oirnn thar sàl ri luas!

O, tog do bhaideil arda,
Chaol, dhìonach, shàr-gheal, nuadh,
Ri d’ chrainnghridh bìgh-dhearg, làidir,
Gu taisdeal nan tonn gàireach;
Tha Æolus ag ràitinn
Gun sèid e ràp-ghaoth chruaidh
O’n àird anear, ‘s tha Neptun dìleas
Gu mìneachadh a’ chuain.
Is bochd atà do chàirdean
Aig ro-mheud t’fhardail uainn,
Mar àlach maoth gun mhàthair,
No beachainn bhreac a’ ghàraidh
Aig sionnach ‘n d’èis am fàsaichth’
Air fàillinn feadh nam bruach;
Aisig cabhagach le do chàbhlach,
Us leighis plàigh do shluaigh.

Tha na dèe ann an deagh-rùn duit,
Greas ort le sùrd neo-mharbh
Thar dhronnag nan tonn dubh-ghorm,
Dhriom-robach, bhàrr-chas, shiùbhlach,
Ghleann-chladhach, cheann-gheal, shùgh-dhlùth,
Nam mòthar cùl-ghlas, garbh;
Na cuan-choirean greannach, stuadh-thorrach,
‘S crom-bhileach, molach, falbh.
Tha muir us tìr cho rèidh dhuit
Mur dean thu fèin an searg’;
Dòirtidh iad ‘nan ceudaibh,
‘Nan laomaibh tiugha, treuna,
A Breatuinn us a h-Eirinn
Mu d’ standard brèid-gheal, dearg;
A’ ghaisreadh sgaiteach, ghuineach, rìoghail,
Chreuchdach, fhìor-luath, gharg.

Thig do chinneadh fèin ort,
Na treun-fhir laomsgair, gharbh,
‘Nam beathraichibh gu reubadh,
‘Nan leòmhannaibh gu creuchdadh,
‘Nan nathraichibh grad-leumnach,
A lotas geur le ‘n calg;
Le ‘n gathaibh faobharach, rinn-bheurra
Nì mòr-euchd le ‘n arm’.
‘Nam brataichibh làn-èidicht’
Le dealas geur gun chealg,
Thig Domhnullaich ‘nan dèidh sin,
Cho dìleas duit ri d’ lèine,
Mar choin air fasdadh èille
Air chath chrith geur gu sealg;
‘S mairg nàimhde do ‘n nochd iad fraoch,
Long, leòmhann, craobh, ‘s làmh dhearg.

Gun neartaich iad do champa
Na Caimbeulaich gu dearbh,
An Diùc Earraghàidhealach mar cheann orr’,
Gu mòralach, mear, prionnsail,
Ge b’è sid an tionnsgnadh searbh,
B’è sid an tionnsgnadh searbh,
Le lannaibh lotach, dubh-ghorm, toirteil,
Sgoltadh chorp gu’m balg.
Gu tairbeartach, glan, caismeachdach,
Fìor-thartarach ‘nan ranc,
Thig Cluainidh le ‘chuid Phearsanach,
Gu cuanna, gleusda, grad-bheirteach,
Le spàinnichibh teann-bheirticht’
‘S cruaidh fead ri sgailceadh cheann;
Bidh fuil da dòrtadh, smùis da spealtadh,
Le sgealpaireachd ur lann.

Druididh suas ri d’ mheirghe,
Nach meirbh an am an àir,
Clann Ghill’ Eathain nach meirgich
Airm ri h-uchd do sheirbhis,
Le ‘m brataichean ‘s snuadh feirg’ orr’,
‘San leirg mar thairbh gun sgàth;
Am foirne fearail, nimheil, arrail,
As builleach, ealamh làmh.
Gun tig na fiùrain Leòdach ort
Mar sheochdain ‘s eòin fo ‘n spàig;
‘Nan tùiribh lann-ghorm, tinnisneach,
Air chorra-ghleus gun tiomachas,
An rèisimeid fhìor-innealta,
‘S fàth giorraig dol ‘na dàil;
Am bi iomadh bòcan fuilteach, foirmeil,
Thèid le stoirm gu bàs.

Thig curaidhnean Chlann-Chamshroin ort,
Thèid meanmnach sìos ‘nad spàirn;
An fhoireann ghuineach, chaithreamach,
‘S neo-fhiamhach an am tarruinge,
An lainn ghlas mar lasair dealanaich
Gu gearradh cheann us làmh;
‘S mar luas na dreige, ‘s cruas na creige,
Chluinnte sgread nan cnàmh.
Thig mìlidhean Chlann-Iain ort,
Thèid fritheilteach gu d’ champ,
Mar fhaloisg ris na sliabh-chnuic
Us gaoth a’ Mhàirt ‘ga biathadh,
No marcaich’ air each srianach
A rachadh sìos gun chàird –
Cho ealamh ris an fhùdar ullamh,
An t-srad ‘n uair bhuineadh dhà.

Gur cinnteach dhuibh d’ur coinneachadh
Mac Coinnich mòr Cheann-t-sàil’,
Fir làidir, dhàna, cho innealta
Do’n fhìor-chruaidh air a foinneachadh,
Nach ghabh fiamh no somaltachd
No sgreamh roimh theine bhlàr;
‘S iad gu nàrach, fuileach, foinnidh,
Air bhoil’ gu dol ‘nad chàs.
Gur foirmeil, pròiseil, ordail,
Thig Tòisichean ‘nan ranc,
A’ màrsal stàtail, comhnard,
Gu pìobach, bratach, sròl-bhuidh’;
Tha rìoghaltachd us mòrchuis
Gun sòradh anns an dream,
Daoine làidir, neartmhor, cròdha,
‘S iad gun ghò, gun mheang.

Thig Granndaich gu ro-thartarach,
Neo-fhad-bheirteach do d’ champ,
Air phriob-losgadh gu cruadal,
Gu snaidh’ cheann us chluas diubh,
Cho nimheil ris na tigiribh,
Le feachdraidh dian-mhear, dàn’,
Chuireas iomadh fear le sgreadail
‘S a’ breabadaich gu làr.
Thig a rìs na Frisealaich
Gu sgibidh le neart garbh,
‘Nan seochdaibh fìor-ghlan, togarrach,
Le fuathas bhlàr nach bogaichear,
An comhlan feardha, cosgarrach,
‘S mairg neach do ‘n nochd iad fearg;
An spuir ghlas aig dlùths an dèirich
Bidh ‘nan èibhlibh dearg.

‘Nan gaisreadh ghaisgeil, losgarra,
Thig Lachlunnaich gun chàird,
‘Nan soighdibh dearga, puinnseanta,
Gu claidhmheach, sgiathach, cuinnsearach,
Gu gunnach, dagach, ionnsaichte,
Gun chunntas ac’ air àr;
Dol ‘nan deannaibh ‘n aodainn pheileir
Tiochd o theine chàich.
Gabhaidh pàirt de t’ iorghaill-sa
Clann-Fhionghain ‘s sìor-bhualadh,
Mar thuinn ri tìr a’ sìor-bhualadh,
No bile lasrach dian-losgadh,
‘Nan treudaibh luatha, sìor-chonfach,
Thoirt grìosaich air an nàmh’;
An dream chathach, Mhuileach, Shrathach,
‘S maith gu sgathadh chnàmh!

‘S mòr a bhios ri corp-rùsgadh
Nan closaichean ‘sa bhlàr,
Fithich ann, a’ rocadaich,
Ag itealaich, ‘s a’ cnocaireachd,
Cìocras air na cosgarraich
Ag òl ‘s ag ith’ an sàth;
Och, ‘s tùrsach, fann, a chluinntear mochthrath,
Ochanaich nan àr.
Bidh fuil us gaorr dam fùidreadh ann
Le lùth-chleasan ur làmh,
Meangar cinn us dùirn diubh,
Gearrar uilt le smùisreadh,
Cìosnaichear ur biùthaidh,
Dan dubh-losgadh, ‘s dan cnàmh’;
Crùnar le poimp Tearlach Stiùbhart,
Us Frederic Prionns’ fo shàil.

Continue reading “Song of the Highland Clans”

The Worthy Gaelic

Tha Laideann coimhliont,
Torrach, teann nas leòr,
Ach ‘s sgalag thràilleil
I don Ghàidhlig chòir.

San Athen mhòir
Bha ‘Ghreugais còrr ‘na tìm,
Ach b’ ion di h-òrdag
Chur fo h-òirchios grinn.

Latin is perfect / fertile, and firm enough / but it is a slavish servant / compared to worthy Gaelic. / In great Athens / Greek was outstanding in its time / but it had to put its thumb / under its neat golden girdle.

Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, Moladh an Ùghdair don t-Seann Chànain Ghàidhlig.

“An Airce” from Adv.MS.72.2.13

An Airce.

Adhra mhìalach nan cat,
Air dhealbh nathrach ‘s a grunnd fuar,
‘Nuair thig Tomas le chuid each,
Bidh là nan creach mu d’ bhruaich.

Thig seann fhàisdinnean, gu teach,
Bheir a chuidheall car mu’n cuairt,
Am fear tha ìosal bidh gu h-àrd,
Fear eile gu làr gu luath.

Thig claidheamh, tein’ agus càs,
Tuil-bheum sgriosach, bhàiteach bhuan,
Air gach seorsa sluaigh is caorach,
Eadar Adhra ‘s Uisge Chluaidh.

Bidh t’ inbhir ‘s do ghlinn an staid chruaidh,
Lasair ruadh a’ gualadh stiall,
Frasan teine tolladh sgamhan,
Pìob is canain feannadh chiad.

Na prionnsach’ cho cruaidh ri creig,
‘G éirigh air an corra-biod,
Ri steiceadh lag toirt orr’ glag,
Aig meud am buig.

Tha dioghaltas le guth àrd,
Mar bha fuil Abeil ‘s an speur,
‘G iolach ‘s ag ùirnigh gu h-àrd
Gort is plàigh theachd air gach cré.

Air gach cré a dhearg an làmh
Anns na rinneadh oirnn de bhruid,
De dh’ uaislibh onarach prìseil
Nan tri rìoghachd bho ghniomh curst’.

Thig plaighean na h-Eiphit gu léir
Bho speuraibh ‘s an talamh g’ur murt,
Cuid eile dhiobh leum bharr chreagaibh,
Mar a thachair do’n treud mhuc.

Ged chaidh mi gu m’ shuain gu h-òrdail,
Mar bu chòir do’n h-uile Criosdaidh,
Chunnacas bruadar de dh’ion bòcain,
Chuir air bhalla-chrith m’fheòil is m’fhiaclan.

An déis dhomh tuiteam ann am chadal,
Chunnacas aisling chuir orm cùram,
Guth ‘g am mhosgladh suas gu sgairteil,
Dol air theachdaireachd ‘nuair dhùisginn;

Dhol chur nan Guibhneach ‘na faicill,
Gu’n robh cruaidh bhreitheanas oillteil
Ri teachd orr’ as leth am peacaidh,
An cuid creach, ‘s an cleachdadh treusoin.

‘S gur beag nach b’ aithreach le Dia
Gu’n do ghin e riamh am pòr,
Dream a thréig an Dia ‘s an rìoghachd,
‘S a rinn ìodhol d’an cuid òir.

Continue reading ““An Airce” from Adv.MS.72.2.13″

Conflation: Gàidhealtachd & Jacobitism

The simple question “who were the Gaidheil (Gaels)”? Might seem like a surprising point of departure. When the Comunn Oiseanach (Ossianic Society) started meeting at the University of Glasgow some eighty years later, from 1831, one of their primary functions was as a debating society. They discussed, in Gaelic, a wide range of topics but one which proved especially popular and to which they returned again and again was the Jacobite rising of 1745-46. Was it right, they asked, again and again, that the ‘Gael’ should have risen in support of Prince Charles Edward Stuart?

The popularity of the topic was shared by Iain MacChoinnich (1806-48), a native of Gairloch, who worked at the printer’s office at the University of Glasgow and was admitted as an honorary member of An Comunn Oiseanach in 1834. Iain gifted An Comunn a copy of An Nuadh Oranaiche Gaelach (or ‘Ais-èiridh na Sean Chánoin Albannaich’), the volume published by Alasdair mac Mhaighistir Alasdair (1751). This Iain MacChoinnich (John Mackenzie) was the editor of the widely known collection of Gaelic poetry, Sàr Obair nam Bàrd Gaidhealach (1841), and also a history of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 entitled Eachdraidh a’ Phrionnsa (1844). The author referred to his honorary membership of An Comunn Oiseanach on the frontspiece of the latter book. This work, Eachdraidh a’ Phrionnsa, refers, as do members of An Comunn Oiseanach in their minute books, to the ‘Gaeil’ as being synonymous with support for the Prince.

The insistence shown by MacChoinnich in labelling Jacobite supporters as Gaels throughout his book seems all the more surprising given his awareness that the leader of the Whig opposition was the chief of a Highland clan. Iain Ruadh nan Cath (John, 2nd Duke of Argyll), the Campbell clan chief, followed by a considerable number of Gaelic speakers, commanded the Hanoverian forces arrayed against the ‘Gaels’ (Jacobites) in 1715. This identification of Jacobitism with Gaels must reflect to some extent, views held not only by An Comunn Oiseanach but also of the way in which contemporary Highland and Scottish society in the nineteenth century perceived events of the previous century.

Later generations can, perhaps, be forgiven for conflating the Gaidhealtachd with Jacobitism given that their predecessors in the 1740s were similarly imprecise. People in the 1740s, particularly people from the Lowlands habitually referred to Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s army as the ‘Highlanders’. Gaelic speakers who supported the Hanoverian regime, on the other hand were often given more specific identities. The Whig supporters tended to be not identified as Gaels or Highlanders, but instead as ‘Argyllshire men’, as ‘Munros’, or ‘Grants.’ Part of the reason for this is that Jacobites, irrespective of whether they were Lowland or Highland, and even the Prince himself, identified themselves as ‘Highlanders’ and adopted tartan dress. The Jacobites were highlanders – in a visual if not always in a linguistic sense.

— excerpted from “Jacobites & Whigs,” The Gaelic Story web site, University of Glasgow.

Beannachadh Luinge

Detail of birlinn from the wall tomb of Alasdair Crotach MacLeod, 8th Chief of Clan MacLeod, St. Clement's Church, Rodel, Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, 1528.
Detail of birlinn from the wall tomb of Alasdair Crotach MacLeod, 8th Chief of Clan MacLeod, St. Clement’s Church, Rodel, Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, 1528.

God bless the good ship of Clan Ranald,
The first day it leaps on the wave,
The ship and the sailors who man it
The first on the roll of the brave!

May the Three and the One be their guidance,
Who tempers the blasts when they bray,
Or tossed mid the war of the billow
Or lulled in the sleep of the bay!

Great Father that gathered the waters,
Whose breath is the strength of the storm,
Bless Thou our frail bark and its men
When the rage of the tempest is warm.

O Son of the Father give blessing
To anchor and rudder and mast,
To sail and to sheet and to tackle,
When they stand the rude strain of the blast.

Bless yard and halyard and stay,
All gear both above and below,
Give soundness to rigging and rope,
That no flaw and no fault they may know.

May the Spirit the Holy protect us,
Whose grace we devoutly implore,
Who hath fathomed all depths of the ocean,
And numbered all bays of the shore!

— Form of prayer for the blessing of a ship on going to sea Beannachadh Luinge, from the Gàidhlig poem, Birlinn Chlann Raghnaill, Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, Englished by Professor John Stuart Blackie.

* * *

Beannachadh Luinge

Maille ri brosnachadh fairge, a rinneadh do sgioba is do bhirlinn tighearna Chlann Raghnaill.

Gum beannaicheadh Dia long Chlann Raghnaill
A’ cheud là do chaidh air sàile,
E fèin ‘s a thrèin-fhir da caitheamh,
Trèin a chuaidh thar maitheas chàich.

Gum beannaich an Coimh-dhia naomh
An iùnnrais, anal nan speur,
Gun sguabte garbhlach na mara,
G’ ar tarraing gu cala rèidh.

Athair, a chruthaich an fhairge
‘S gach gaoth a shèideas às gach àird,
Beannaich ar caol-bhàirc ‘s ar gaisgich,
‘S cum i fhèin ‟s a gasraidh slàn.

A Mhic, beannaich fèin ar n-acair,
Ar siùil, ar beartean, ‘s ar stiùir,
‘S gach droineap tha crochte ri ‘r crannaibh,
‘S thoir gu caladh sinn le d’ iùl.

Beannaich ar racain ‘s ar slats,
Ar crainn ‘s ar teudaibh gu lèir
Ar stagh ‘s ar tarraing cùm fallen
‘S na leig-s’ ann ar cara beud.

An Spiorad Naomh biodh air stiùir,
Seòlaidh e ‘n t-iùl a bhios ceart;
‘S eòl da gach longphort fon ghrèin,
Tilgeamaid sinn fèin fo ‘bheachd.

— Form of prayer for the blessing of a ship on going to sea, Beannachadh Luinge, from the Gàidhlig poem, Birlinn Chlann Raghnaill, Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair.

* * *

A considerably more literal English translation by Gordon Barr (1924):

Blessing of the Ship

Including encouragement of the ocean which was made for the crew and ship of the Lord of Clan Ranald.

May God bless Clan Ranald’s ship the first day it went to sea, itself and the strong men driving it, warriors who went beyond the excellence of the rest.

May the sacred Lord bless the storm, the breath of the stars, and may the stony river bed of the sea not be hit and may he pull us to a smooth harbour.

O Father, you who formed the ocean and every wind that blows from every direction, bless our narrow bark and our champion heros and keep herself and her crew in good health.

O Son, bless even our anchor, our sails, our mast rope-rings, our rudder and all the rigging which is bound to our mast and take us to a harbour with your guidance.

Bless our mast rings, our yard-arms, our masts and all our mooring ropes, and keep safe our stays and our halyards and don’t allow any messing up of our direction.

Let the Holy Spirit be at the helm and he will sail a route which will be correct; let him have discernment about every boat-harbour under the sun and let us move ourselves with care.

Tha sinn ‘san t-sean-nàdur

Tha sinn ‘san t-sean-nàdur
A bhà sinn roimh am an achda,
Am pearsanna ‘s an inntinn,
‘S ‘bar rìoghalachd, cha tèid lagadh.

We’re still of our old nature
As were we ere the Act was passèd,
Alike in mind and persons
And loyalty, we will not weaken.

Am Breachan Uallach, Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair.

Ours the Sword’s Victory, Theirs but the Pen’s!

In an unknown plot in this Arisaig cemetery is buried Alasdair, mac Mhaighstir Alasdair (Alexander MacDonald).

Gura linne ‘bhuaidh lannach, ‘s buaidh pheannach an cuid-s’!

Tearlach Mac Sheumais, Alexander MacDonald.