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”

A Royal Pedigree to Half the Population of the Country

Detail of The Downsitting of Parliament, from Chatelain's "Atlas Historique" of 1720, showing a graphic scheme of the opening of the Estates of Parliament of Scotland about 1680 - 1685.
Detail of The Downsitting of Parliament, from Chatelain’s “Atlas Historique” of 1720, showing a graphic scheme of the opening of the Estates of Parliament of Scotland about 1680 – 1685.

That so many families claiming royal lineage should be found among our lowest classes is not astonishing. History tells us of change after change in the ruling dynasties of these islands, and of the advent of races the most varied in time and origin. During the last two thousand years enough kings and nobles have sunk from power to furnish a royal pedigree to half the population of the country. It is true that the present Royal Family, and the present aristocracy, inherit, to some extent, the blood of extinct dynasties. But only to some extent. The Prince of Wales has lawfully succeeded to various dignities; but these are of such opposite origin that they cannot possibly be typified in the person of one man. He cannot be, at the same time, a typical Prince of Wales and a typical Prince of Scotland; a genuine Duke of Cornwall and as genuine a Duke of Rothesay; a perfect specimen of the Lords of the Isles and an equally perfect Earl of Chester; he cannot be a thoroughbred Plantagenet, Stewart, Tudor, and Guelph — though a certain proportion of the blood of each may run in his veins. The circumstances that developed such titles have been matters of history for many generations; the titles themselves are now merely so many graceful honours, attaching by right of birth to the Heir Apparent.

David MacRitchie, Ancient and Modern Britons (London: 1884).

How the Galley for Lorne Came to the Campbells

Arms of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell; Quarterly, 1st & 4th: Gyronny of eight or and sable (Campbell); 2nd & 3rd: Argent, a lymphad or ancient galley sails furled flags and pennants flying gules and oars in action sable (Lorne).
Arms of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell; Quarterly, 1st & 4th: Gyronny of eight or and sable (Campbell); 2nd & 3rd: Argent, a lymphad or ancient galley sails furled flags and pennants flying gules and oars in action sable (Lorne).

(These notes on the Galley for Lorne are based upon letters which appeared in the ‘Scotsman,’ signed “Ergadiensis,” “T.H.I.S.,” and “Mr H.D. Smith,” all of whom wrote in answer to letters from me in the  ‘Scotsman’ or ‘Glasgow Herald.’ — Ed.)

THE charter […] 1470 was no confirmation of the heiresses’ claim to Lorne, for none of the respective husbands ever made any claim through them; it was the sequel of a long tragedy. In 1463, John Stewart, Lord Lorne, was murdered at Dunstaffnage by a MacDougall, to prevent him legitimising his son Dugald; but he lived a sufficiently long time to marry Dugald’s mother.

For six long years there was a bloody struggle for the possession of Lorne, between Dugald and the Lorne Stewarts on the one side, and the MacDougalls, secretly helped by Argyll and Dugald’s, uncle Walter Stewart, on the other. In the year 1469, Dugald Stewart and the MacDougalls, being both exhausted, Mac Cailein Mòr got from Walter Stewart a resignation in his own favour of the claims of Walter, which he alleged he had in Lorne, and interfered actively in the quarrel. Neither Dugald nor his adversaries were able, after six long years of contention, to resist this powerful opponent, and he had to compromise his right to the whole of his father’s lands for Appin, and became the ancestor of the Stewarts of Appin.

After this compromise only, in 1469, Walter took seisin of Lorne, and granted it in pretended exchange for others to Cailein Mòr; and in 1470 this exchange was confirmed by the minor James III., at whose Court Argyll was supreme.

About the year 1388, the Galley, the family cognisance of the MacDougalls — the “Lords of Lorne of Auld,” as Sir David Lyndsay, Lord Lyon King-at-Arms calls them — a branch of the family of the Lords of the Isles, was quartered by Sir John Stewart on his marriage with a daughter and co-heiress of John MacDougall, Lord of Lorne; and three generations later it was assumed by Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy, and Sir Colin Campbell of Lochow, afterwards first Earl of Argyll, some time after their marriage with two of the daughters of Sir John Stewart, Lord of Lorne. Glenorchy, who married the eldest, also assumed the fess “checquy” of the Stewarts.

John of Lorne, having no lawful son (Stewart of Appin being a natural son), some years before his death executed a deed of settlement in favour of his own brothers, the Stewarts of Innermeath, as next heirs male.

The deed was confirmed by charter under the Great Seal, 1452; and on the death of the old chief in 1463, his eldest surviving brother, Walter, claimed and succeeded to the estate and dignity.

Argyll’s seal, appended to a charter dated 17th December 1470, granting to his uncle, Sir Colin of Glenorchy, a part of his recent acquisition of Lorne, in exchange for Glenorchy’s share of the Clackmannan lands, is not charged with the Galley (Laing’s ‘Ancient Scottish Seals’).

The three daughters1 were co-heiresses of the lands of Dollar and Gloom, but not of Sir John Stewart’s great baronies of Redcastle, Innermeath, and Lorne. The actual transaction by which these were transferred to Argyll was this: In 1469 the new chief granted an indenture binding himself to resign the lordship of Lorne in favour of Colin, Earl of Argyll, in exchange for the lands of Kildoning, Baldoning, and Innerdoning, in Perthshire; the lands of Culrain, in Fife; and Cutkerry, in Kinross: the Earl on his part binding himself to use his influence (which was very great) to procure for him another title — namely that of Lord Innermeath — which was done, and within a year the patent passed the Great Seal.

It is scarcely correct to say that the co-heiresses of the Clackmannan lands, one-third of which estates were appointed to each of the three heiresses, inherited only these lands; for the eldest, marrying Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy, 1448, carried to her husband a small grant of lands adjoining Glenorchy, extending to somewhat less than six2 merks out of the Lorne estates (Orig. Par. Sc.)

Such is the story of the “blazoning” of the Galley “For Lorne” on the shields of the Campbells of Argyle and Breadalbane.

1 The eldest married Glenorchy; the second, Sir Colin Campbell, first Earl of Argyll; the third, Arthur Campbell of Ottar.

2 Or as another authority says, an eighteen-merk land.

— Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).

A Story of Taymouth or Balloch

The village of Kenmore, Perth and Kinross, located on Loch Tay and by the emergence of the River Tay, taken from the Black Rock viewpoint.
The village of Kenmore, Perth and Kinross, located on Loch Tay and by the emergence of the River Tay, taken from the Black Rock viewpoint.

IN the reign of James I., an island at the east end of Loch Tay (Loch Tatha) was chosen for the site of a nunnery. The nuns vowed in presence of a priest that they had not and would not have anything to do with a man. It was one of the Stewarts of Atholl who had the superintendence of the island. He was very severe on people, and had the power of sentencing to death any one who should anger him.

There was a hollow called Lag-na-casgairt (Slaughter Hollow), where he was wont to hang or behead those whom he sentenced to death; and there was a pool called the Black Pool, in the river Tay, where he was in the habit of drowning some. It seemed to him that the island of the nuns was too near the land, and that the water between the island and land was so shallow that men might at times walk from land to it. He therefore resolved to build a wall across the river Tay to deepen Loch Tay, and he imposed a tax on the tenantry of the country that every one of them should individually have to come for a certain number of days in the year and carry stones to put a wall across the river; and were a traveller passing the way, Stewart imposed on him a tax to carry a stone to help the erection of the wall.

It happened that a son of the laird of Glenurchy, whose name was Dugald, was passing the way, and he had a servant along with him. Both he and his servant were riding. Dugald was informed that he should have to carry a stone and put it in the wall. Dugald was haughty, and he refused. He was put off his horse; still he refused to carry the stone to the wall. He was consequently taken to Slaughter Hollow, and there beheaded.

The servant returned home after this catastrophe, and told what had been done to Dugald. In about a year thereafter, another son of the knight of Glenurchy, named Duncan, went the way of Taymouth. When he had reached the same place, he was told that he should have to carry a stone and put it in the wall. Duncan stopped and inquired what was the reason that such a tax was imposed on passers-by.

He was told. He said he would put a stone in it; and when he had put the stone in the wall, he said that if Stewart wished he would stay for a space to work at the wall — that it was a very fine thing.

Immediate consent was granted him to stay, and thanks given him. So Black Duncan and his gillie stayed to work at the wall. Duncan was exceedingly good at choosing his speech, and he and the other men who were working at the wall became very much attached to one another. He understood that they were tired of Stewart, on account of his severity. One day a man was to be hanged at Taymouth for no other reason than that Stewart had got angry with him; and the workmen were sorry for this man. Black Duncan said to them, “It is your own fault when you would permit this.”

One of the workmen replied, “What can we do?  It is he who has the power in the country and we cannot stand against him.”

Duncan said, “Are there not so many of you? and were you to be faithful to one another, could you not do to him as he does to those with whom he becomes angry?”

The workmen then asked Duncan, “Would you do that yourself?”

“Yes I would,” answered Black Duncan, “were you to stand true to me.”

They said, “We will stand true to you;” and they made a covenant with each other.

When Stewart had commanded the other men to go with the condemned man to hang him, Duncan Campbell said, “Why should we hang a guiltless man? Let us catch Stewart himself and hang him.”

So Black Duncan Campbell went first and seized Stewart. The rest followed his example, and so Stewart himself was hung; and it was a source of consolation to the people of the country that they had got quit of the bad man.

Black Duncan himself took possession of the land which Stewart had, and he let land to the men. He was not hard on them with the rents. They were therefore true to him, and he was allowed to keep possession of the land. They named the place where Dugald had crossed the river to be hanged, “Dugald’s Crossing.”

The nuns who abode in the island of the Garden (Eilean a’ ghàraidh), which is near Taymouth, got to land once a-year on the 26th of July; and there was a fair, called the “Fair of the Holy Women,” held opposite to the island, and the holy women had permission to go to the fair to sell any work which they had to sell. But it happened at a certain time that a man called Mac-an-Rùsgaich (Mackinrooskich), son of the stripper, got into the island by a boat, and was clad in woman’s clothes. He stayed in the island till he saw his own time for going. The abbot who had the care of the nuns was subsequently harder on them than formerly, and none of them could get to land off the island to attend the fair. They made up with one another (settled or conspired) that they would flee; so they fled.

It was to the upland of Acharn that they fled. When they were at the top precipice, they sat for a while to take the last view of the island in which they had been, and that place was thenceforth named the “Woman’s Watch.” They separated then from one another, and every one went to her own home. So a ditty was composed to them beginning with the words:–

Red-haired Duncan’s a holy women,
They ascended up the hillside.

No nuns were thereafter kept in the island of the Garden. After the nuns had left the island the Campbells made a dwelling-place for themselves in the island.

Killin and Loch Tay, with Ben Lawers on the left, taken from a short distance up Sron a Chlachain.
Killin and Loch Tay, with Ben Lawers on the left, taken from a short distance up Sron a Chlachain.

It was at Kenmore (An Ceannamhor) at Taymouth, that it was customary to hold the Court of the country; but after the Campbells had obtained possession of the land of Taymouth, it was held at Killin (Cillfhinn), which was a more suitable place for the purpose. A great number of gentlemen were wont to come to the Court, and they were short of stables at the inn for their horses.

The land about Killin belonged to MacNab of Kinell (Cinneala) — and also the land at that end of Loch Tay — at that time.

One day that the knight of Glenurchy was at Court at Killin he said to MacNab, “I wish you would sell me a bit of land at Finlarig, that I might have a place where to tie my horse when I come to the Court of Killin.”

MacNab refused at first; but after the knight had for a short time pressed his request, MacNab asked him, “How much land do you seek?”

“Were I to get the length and breadth of a thong,” rejoined the knight, “that would suffice.”

It seemed to MacNab that so much would be but a small bit, and he named the price for which he would sell such a bit of land; and the knight took MacNab at his word. He got a hide as large as could be found in the country. He got a good shoemaker, and made him begin at the border of the hide and cut it in one thong about the thickness of a latchet. He went to Finlarig, got MacNab himself to be present, and he measured the length of the thong in one direction, across which he measured its length again (sic). So he got a large piece of land for a small price. This was the commencement of the Campbells getting into the land of MacNab; but by little and little they got the whole thereof.

— From the Dewar MSS. Given to the Editor by Lord Lorne, for whom and the Duke of Argyll the tales were collected in 1870-1871. Translated by Mr. Hector MacLean, Islay; Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).