The Old Foundations of Life

Malvine, Dying in the Arms of Fingal, by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson.
Malvine, Dying in the Arms of Fingal, by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson.

Gaelic-speaking Ireland, because its art has been made, not only by the artist choosing his material from wherever he has a mind to, but by adding a little to something which it has taken generations to invent, has always had a popular literature. We cannot say how much that literature has done for the vigour of the race, for we cannot count the hands its praise of kings and high-hearted queens made hot upon the sword-hilt, or the amorous eyes it made lustful for strength and beauty. We remember indeed that when the farming people and the labourers of the towns made their last attempt to cast out England by force of arms they named themselves after the companions of Finn. Even when Gaelic has gone, and the poetry with it, something of the habit remains in ways of speech and thought and ‘come-all-ye’s’ and political sayings; nor is it only among the poor that the old thought has been for strength or weakness. Surely these old stories, whether of Finn or Cuchulain, helped to sing the old Irish and the old Norman-Irish aristocracy to their end. They heard their hereditary poets and story-tellers, and they took to horse and died fighting against Elizabeth or against Cromwell; and when an English-speaking aristocracy had their place, it listened to no poetry indeed, but it felt about it in the popular mind an exacting and ancient tribunal, and began a play that had for spectators men and women that loved the high wasteful virtues. I do not think that their own mixed blood or the habit of their time need take all, or nearly all, credit or discredit for the impulse that made our modern gentlemen fight duels over pocket-handkerchiefs, and set out to play ball against the gates of Jerusalem for a wager, and scatter money before the public eye; and at last, after an epoch of such eloquence the world has hardly seen its like, lose their public spirit and their high heart and grow querulous and selfish as men do who have played life out not heartily but with noise and tumult. Had they understood the people and the game a little better, they might have created an aristocracy in an age that has lost the meaning of the word. When we read of the Fianna, or of Cuchulain, or of some great hero, we remember that the fine life is always a part played finely before fine spectators. There also we notice the hot cup and the cold cup of intoxication; and when the fine spectators have ended, surely the fine players grow weary, and aristocratic life is ended. When O’Connell covered with a dark glove the hand that had killed a man in the duelling field, he played his part; and when Alexander stayed his army marching to the conquest of the world that he might contemplate the beauty of a plane-tree, he played his part. When Osgar complained, as he lay dying, of the keening of the women and the old fighting men, he too played his part: ‘No man ever knew any heart in me,’ he said, ‘but a heart of twisted horn, and it covered with iron; but the howling of the dogs beside me,’ he said, ‘and the keening of the old fighting men and the crying of the women one after another, those are the things that are vexing me’.

If we would create a great community–and what other game is so worth the labour?–we must recreate the old foundations of life, not as they existed in that splendid misunderstanding of the eighteenth century, but as they must always exist when the finest minds and Ned the beggar and Sean the fool think about the same thing, although they may not think the same thought about it.

— W. B. Yeats’s Preface to Lady Gregory’s Gods and Fighting Men, 1904.


John Tenniel's illustration to the poem Jabberwocky, first published in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871).
John Tenniel’s illustration to the poem Jabberwocky, first published in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871).


Briollaic a bhí ann; bhí na tóibhí sleo
ag gírleáil ’s ag gimleáil ar an taof.
B’an-chuama go deo na borragóibh
is bhí na rádaí miseacha ag braíomh.

Fainic an Gheabairleog, a mhic!
na gialla géara, greim na gcrúb!
Fainic an Gumailéan is teith
ó Bhandarsnap na bhfriúch!

Thóg sé bórpalchlaíomh ’na ghlac
is lorg i bhfad an manann-namhaid.
Faoin gcniogaidchrann a dhein sé reast
is mhachnaigh seal san áit.

Is é ’na sheasamh faoi ufmhidheamhain,
bhuifleáil an Gheabairleog an treo,
trín tulach-choill—ba lasta a súil—
is í ag plobaireacht insa ród.

’Aon ’dó, ’aon ’dó, trí fhéith, trí fheoil
do ghearr a bhórpalchlaíomh slis! sleais!
Thit an beithíoch marbh; do thóg sé a cheann,
is go frábhógach rith sé ar ais.

Ar mharaigh tú mar sin an Gheabairleog?
Gabh i leith chúm anall a mhic mo bhéibh!
Nach fraoibiúil an lá! Hurú! Hurá!
a dúirt sé le scliogar a scléip.

Briollaic a bhí ann; bhí na tóibhí sleo
ag gírleáil ’s ag gimleáil ar an taof.
B’an-chuama go deo na borragóibh
is bhí na rádaí miseacha ag braíomh.

— translated by Nicholas Williams.

Empress of Hell

Icon of the enthroned Virgin and Child with SS. George, Theodore and angels, 6th century, Saint Catherine's Monastery.
Icon of the enthroned Virgin and Child with SS. George, Theodore and angels, 6th century, Saint Catherine’s Monastery.

Aue Marie mater Domini nostri Iesus Christi regina celi domina mundi imperatrix inferni misere mei & totius populi Christiani Amen. / Dia do betha a Muiri a mathair ar Tigerna .i. Isa Crist a righan nimi a bantigerna in domuin a banimpir ifirn / dena trocuiri orum agus ar in pobul ar c[h]ena.

Antiphon from the Saltair Mhuire, attributed to Domhnall Albannach Ó Troighthigh, in manuscript dated 1477.

Mael Ísu Ua Brolcháin

Cloncha High Cross, Culdaff (Cúil Dabhcha), Inishowen, Co. Donegal.
Cloncha High Cross, Culdaff (Cúil Dabhcha), Inishowen, Co. Donegal.

Mael Ísu Ua Brolcháin, the sage of Erinn in wisdom and in piety, and in the poetry of either language, suum spiritum emisit. Annals of Loch Cé.

Moyle Issa o’Brothloghann, the ealder and sage of Ireland was soe ingenious and witty, and withall soe well learned that he composed great volumes containing many great Misteryes and new sciences devised by himselfe, died this year. Annals of Clonmacnoise.

The Age of Christ, 1086. […] Maelisa Ua Brolchain, learned senior of Ireland, a paragon of wisdom and piety, as well as in poetry and both languages. His wisdom and learning were so great, that he himself wrote books replete with genius and intellect. He resigned his spirit to heaven on the seventh of the Calends of February, as is stated [in this quatrain]:

On the seventeenth of the Calends of February,
The night of fair Fursa’s festival,
Died Maelisa Ua Brolchain,
But, however, not of a heavy severe fit. Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland (Annals of the Four Masters), likewise in the Annals of Ulster.

The patron saint of the parish of Cloncha, in Inishowen, was always regarded as being the present Maelisa Ua Brolchain. In this parish, there stood an ancient monastery, known as Temple Moyle, or Tapal Moule. An old graveyard, surrounded by a stone wall, with an iron gate entrance, is found at this place. John Canon O’Hanlon, Lives of the Irish Saints.

The following hymn attributed to one Máel-ísu is to be found at fo. 31b. col. 2 of the Liber Hymnorum, Trin. Coll. Dub. E. 4. 2.

mæl ísu dixit

INspirut nóeb immunn
innunn ocus ocunn
inspirut nóeb chucunn
tæt achríst cohopunn

INspirut nóeb daittreb
arcuirp isarnanma
diarsnádud cosolma
argábud argalra

Ardemnaib arpheccdaib
ariffern conilulcc
aísu ronnóeba
ronsóera dospirut.     INspirut.


The Holy Spirit (be) around us, in us, and with us! Let the Holy Spirit come to us, O Christ, forthwith!
The Holy Spirit to possess our body and our soul, to protect us with swiftness against danger, against diseases!
Against demons, against sins, against hell with manifold evil, O Jesus, may thy Spirit sanctify us, save us!


The Máel-ísu by whom this little poem was written, was perhaps Máel-ísu Hua-Brolcháin, who died (according to the Annals of Loch Cé) A.D. 1086. He was the author of two hymns, one in the Lebar Brecc, p. 501, half in Latin and half in Irish, beginning thus:—

Deus meus adiuva me
tucc dam doserc amaic modé1
In meum cor ut sanum sit
tucc arí rán dograd cogribb.2

And another in H. 2. 16, col. 336, to S. Michael the Archangel, beginning—

A aingil
beir a michil morfertaig
gusincoimdid mochaingin.
cuinnig codia ndilgudach
dilgud muilc adbail uile

“O Angel! bear, O great-miracled Michael, my complaint to the Lord.
Hearest thou? Ask of forgiving God forgiveness of all my vast evil.”

1 “Give me thy love, O Son of God!”
2 “Give, O right noble King, thy love quickly!”

— Whitley Stokes, Goidelica, Old and Early-Middle-Irish Glosses, Prose and Verse, 1872.

Pangur Bán

Riechenauer Schulheft (Reichenau Primer), Folio 1 verso / 2 recto, displaying the poem Pangur Bán; St. Paul's Abbey, Lavanttal, Carinthia (Stift St. Paul Cod. 86a/1).
Riechenauer Schulheft (Reichenau Primer), folio 1 verso/2 recto, displaying the poem Pangur Bán; St. Paul’s Abbey, Lavanttal, Carinthia (Stift St. Paul Cod. 86a/1).

Preserved in the Reichenau Primer (Stift St. Paul Cod. 86b/1 fol 1v), and now kept in St. Paul’s Abbey in the Lavanttal, Pangur Bán (Gaelic “white fuller”) is a circa 9th century Old Irish poem composed by an anonymous Irish monk about his pet cat. The poem, which compares the activities of the cat with those of the scribe himself, bears similarities to the poetry of Sedulius Scotus or Scottus (fl. 840-860), an Irish teacher, Latin grammarian, and scriptural commentator.


Messe agus Pangur Bán,
cechtar nathar fria shaindán:
bíth a menmasam fri seilgg,
mu menma céin im shaincheirdd.Caraimse fos, ferr cach clú
oc mu lebrán, léir ingnu;
ní foirmtech frimm Pangur bán
caraid cesin a maccdán

Ó ru biam, scél gan scís
innar tegdais, ar n-óendís,
táithiunn, díchríchide clius
ní fris tarddam ar n-áthius

Gnáth, húaraib, ar gressaib gal
glenaid luch inna línsam;
os mé, du-fuit im lín chéin
dliged ndoraid cu ndronchéill

Fúachaidsem fri frega fál
a rosc, a nglése comlán;
fúachimm chéin fri fégi fis
mu rosc réil, cesu imdis.

Fáelidsem cu ndéne dul
hi nglen luch inna gérchrub;
hi tucu cheist ndoraid ndil
os mé chene am fáelid.

Cia beimmi a-min nach ré
ní derban cách a chéile
maith la cechtar nár a dán;
subaigthius a óenurán

Hé fesin as choimsid dáu;
in muid du-ngní cach óenláu;
du thabairt doraid du glé
for mu muid céin am messe.


I and Pangur Bán, my cat
‘Tis a like task we are at;
Hunting mice is his delight
Hunting words I sit all night.Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill will,
He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry thing to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way:
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Bán, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

— English translation of Pangur Bán by Robin Flower.

In the 2009 animated movie The Secret of Kells, which is heavily inspired by Irish mythology, one of the supporting characters is a white cat named Pangur Bán who arrives at the monastery of Kells in the company of the monk, Aidan of Iona. A verse of the poem is read out during the credit roll.

A Culloden Lament

Inscription on memorial cairn at the field of Culloden.
Inscription on memorial cairn at the field of Culloden.

Fhir a shiùbhlas na frìthe
Tha thu sìor thighinn fainear dhomh
Tha mi ‘g innse le fìrinn
An nì rinn mo sgaradh
Chan e ghearradh a luaidh
A rinn am bualadh fo’m neimheil
Ach an dh’fhuirich dhe’m chàirdean
Anns a’bhlàr a bha ‘s t-earrach

Tha mo chiabhag air glasadh
Tha mo leth-cheann air muthadh
Tha mo shùilean a’sileadh
Tha mo chridhe bochd, brùite
Le’n a dh’fhuirich dhe’m chàirdean
‘S an làr ‘n deach a rùsgadh
‘S e mheudaich mo chràdh
Gun fhios co chàraich an ùr orr’

Chan eil diùc ann an Albainn
No gu dearbh ann a Sasuinn
Nach iarradh an òigear deas òg
Bhi na mhac dha
Ann an toiseach do thìmeghlac
Thu inntinn bha beachdail
Bha thu foghainteach, rìoghail
Bha thu dìleas bha’n aidmheil

Ach sguiridh mise gar’n iomradh
Neo idir gar’n àireamh
Bho’n a chaill mi na gibhtean
Nach tig gu latha bràth
‘S ged a thigeadh Rígh Seamas
‘S a dh’eidir gach sraid e
Ann an deireadh gach cùmailt
Bidh mo chùis-sa mar tha e

— Fhir a Shiùbhlas na Frìthe; traditional; arranged by Arthur Cormack.

Continue reading “A Culloden Lament”

Mac Dathó Was His Name

Facsimile of a portion of page 113b of the Book of Leinster, published by the Royal Irish Academy House, 1880 (Dublin). This portion begins with the fourth sentence of section 15 and ends with the first sentence of section 17.
Facsimile of a portion of page 113b of the Book of Leinster, published by the Royal Irish Academy House, 1880 (Dublin). This portion begins with the fourth sentence of section 15 and ends with the first sentence of section 17.

There was a famous king of Leinster. Mac Dathó was his name. He had a hound; the hound defended the whole of Leinster. The hound’s name was Ailbe, and Ireland was full of its fame. Messengers came from Ailill and Medb asking for the hound. Moreover at the same time there came also messengers from Conchobar Mac Nessa to ask for the same hound. They were all made welcome and brought to him in the hall. That is one of the six halls that were in Ireland at that time, the others being the hall of Da Derga in the territory of Cualu, and the hall of Forgall Manach, and the hall of Mac Dareo in Brefne, and the hall of Da Choca in the west of Meath, and the hall of Blai the landowner in Ulster. There were seven doors in that hall, and seven passages through it, and seven hearths in it, and seven cauldrons, and an ox and a salted pig in each cauldron. Every man who came along the passage used to thrust the flesh-fork into a cauldron, and whatever he brought out at the first catch was his portion. If he did not obtain anything at the first attempt he did not have another.

* * *

Boí rí amra for Laignib, .i. Mac Dathó a ainm. Bui cú oca. No-ditned in cu Lagniu uile. Ailbe ainm in chon, et lán hEriu dia aurdarcus. Tancas o Ailill ocus o Meidb do chungid in chon. I n-oen uair dano tancatar ocus techta Conchobair mic Nessa do chungid in chon chetna. Ro-ferad failte friu uile, et ructha chuci-sium isin mh-bruidin. Is í sein in t-shessed bruiden ro-boi i n-hErind in tan sin: .i. bruden Daderga i crích Cualand, et bruden Fhorgaill Manaich, et bruden Mic Dareo i m-Brefni et bruden Dachoca i n-iarthor Mide et bruden Blai briuga i n-Ultaib. Secht nh-doruis isin bruidin ocus VII sligeda tréthi, et VII tellaige inti, et VII core, ocus dam ocus tinne in cach coire. In fer do-theiged iarsin t-shligi, do-bered in n-ael isin coire, et na tabrad don chét-gabail, issed no-ithed. Mani thucad ní don chét-tadall, ni bered a n-aill.

— Scél Mucci Mic Dathó (Story of Mac Dathó’s Pig), Section I,
N. Kershaw Chadwick, An Early Irish Reader, Cambridge University Press.

Táin Bó Cúailnge

But I who have written this story, or rather this fable, give no credence to the various incidents related in it. For some things in it are the deceptions of demons, other poetic figments; some are probable, others improbable; while still others are intended for the delectation of foolish men.

— Colophon (Latin) at the conclusion of the recension of the Táin Bó Cúailnge as found in the Book of Leinster.

Cover (dust jacket) of Táin Bó Cúailnge, edited by Cecille O'Rahilly, and published by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies in 1970.
Cover (dust jacket) of Táin Bó Cúailnge, edited and translated by Cecille O’Rahilly, and published by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies in 1970 (orig. 1967).
"Here begin the youthful deeds of Cú Chulainn..."
“Here begin the youthful deeds of Cú Chulainn…”

The latest edition to my Gaelic library arrived at the house today, a fairly rare Irish/English copy of the Táin Bó Cúailnge, edited and translated by Cecille O’Rahilly in 1967 — and in pristine condition!

John Campbell of the Bank

John Campbell of the Bank, 1759 (or 1749). All “modern tartans” identified with the Clan Campbell are blue, green, and black. I am not aware of any red tartan which has been associated either historically or by the tartan mills with the Clan Campbell. This portrait just reinforces the truth that Highlanders simply wore what tartans were locally available or to their taste. John Campbell (c.1703-1777) was a Scottish banker and man of business. He worked for The Royal Bank of Scotland from its foundation in 1727, and was its cashier, 1745-77. He served as agent for his kinsmen the 2nd Earl of Breadalbane and Lord Glenorchy, keeping their estate accounts and acting as their representative for all types of business in Edinburgh. Campbell was a Gaelic-speaker with an interest in supporting the survival of the language. He read poetry and his diary suggests that he also wrote it, although no samples are known to survive. It is thought that he was one of the financial supporters of James Macpherson, in his search for the ‘lost’ Ossian cycle of poems.

John Campbell’s diary recounts how the Jacobite army took control of Edinburgh on 17 September 1745. On 1 October, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s secretary informed John Campbell that he had £857 of Royal Bank banknotes and wanted payment for them in gold. Upon failure to comply, the Jacobites would seize property from the Bank and its directors to the value of the notes.

It was not immediately easy for the Bank to comply, because all the Bank’s valuables, including its reserves of gold, had been moved to Edinburgh Castle for safekeeping during this time of turmoil. At first, it had been possible to get access to the Castle when necessary, but by this time the Castle – still in government hands – was locked down, while the rest of the city was under Jacobite control. Just a few days earlier, Campbell and some colleagues had been refused access to the castle, despite waiting at the gates for an hour.

Campbell sought and obtained a special pass from the Jacobite authorities permitting him to pass through the streets safely on his way to the castle. He also wrote ahead to the castle warning its commander that he would be asking for access. The commander implied he would be allowed in, but refused to put anything in writing.

Campbell, accompanied by colleagues and directors from the Bank, made his expedition to the castle on 3 October 1745. He successfully gained access, withdrew the gold to meet the Prince’s demands (which by now had risen to over £3,000), and more to meet any imminent further demands. He also destroyed a large quantity of unissued notes to remove the risk of them entering circulation and becoming an additional liability. While he worked, shooting went on between government forces in the Castle and Jacobites outside.

He paid the money to the Prince’s secretary at his office later that evening. The Jacobite army left Edinburgh on 1 November, marching on into England in a bid to claim the British throne. The army’s progress into England was funded in no small part by the gold it had received from The Royal Bank of Scotland.

Measuring the Boar Against the Bristles

I have already referred to a note by Mrs. MacTavish on this subject, vol. ii. 489. She tells how she learned Dan an Dearg (the Song of the Red) more than sixty years ago, from a ploughman who used to chant it at his work; and she adds–

“The subject of the song is Diarmaid O Duine, or Dearg as he was sometimes called. Diarmaid was, as I daresay you know, the progenitor of the clan Campbell, who are called at times Siol Diarmaid, at other times Clann Duine. I never heard who his wife was, but she was esteemed a virtuous and worthy person; yet she had enemies, who wished to persuade her husband that she did not love him, and who concerted a plot to prove her fidelity. Diarmaid was a great sportsman, as all Fingalians were, and hunted wild boars, which, it would appear, were numerous in the Scottish forests at that period. The sport at times proved fatal to those engaged in it. Pretended friends persuaded Diarmaid to pretend that he was killed by one of those animals. They put him on a bier, and carried him home to his wife, all bloody, as if he had really suffered as they said. She conducted herself with becoming fortitude and composure, ordered refreshments for those assembled to watch the remains of their chief, sat down along with them, and commenced singing the song which follows. It is very touching in the original. Never having been favoured by the muses, I cannot do it the justice which it deserves, or that I could wish. The translation is as literal as I can make it.”


Derg, son of Derg, I am thy wife,
The husband whom I would not hurt,
The husband whom I would not hurt,
There never was a worthy who was not tried;
Wretched am I after thee this night.


Derg, son of Olla of the enlightened mind,
By whom so softly the harp was played,
By whom so softly the harp was played,
Beloved was the hero who kept no wrath,
Though Derg was laid low by a hog.


I see the hawk, I see the hound,
With which my loved one used to hunt,
With which my loved one used to hunt,
And she that loved the three
Let her be laid in the grave with Derg.


Then let us rejoice this night,
As we sit around the corpse of a king,
As we sit around the corpse of a king
Let us be hospitable and liberal,
Thanks be to God for every thing.


Derg mac Derg gur i mi do bhean;
Air an fhear cha deanain lochd.
Cha n’ eil saoi nach d’ fhuair a dheuchain
S’ truagh tha mise ad dheigh an nochd.


Derg mac Olla chridhe ‘n iuil,
Leis an seinte gu ciuin cruit;
B ‘ionmhuin an Laoch air nach do luidhe fearg;
Ged do thorchradh Derg le muic.


Chi mi n’ t seabhag a’s an cu
Leis an deanamh mo run sealg;
S’ an neach leis ail ionmhuin an triuir
Cuirer i ‘s an uir le Derg.


Bi mid gu subhach an nochd
Sin nar suidhe mu chorp Righ
Bi mid gu furanach fialaidh;
Buidheachas do Dhia gach ni.

Diarmaid, who was never conquered in battle, was destroyed by stratagem. Some one of his enemies took a bet with him that he could not measure the length of a boar that he had killed by pacing its back against the bristles with his bare soles, which gave rise to the saying–

Tomhas n’ tuirc n’ aghaidh n’ fhrioghain,
Measuring the boar against the bristles,

when any unlikely thing is proposed. He gained his bet, but it cost him his life; the boar’s bristles being so strong that he bled to death. This legend is said to be the origin of the boar’s head being the crest of the principal families of the Campbells.

Popular Tales of the West Highlands, Vol. III, J.F. Campbell.

Clo Mhic Ille Mhicheil

Jacobite Standard during the 1745 rising.
Lyrics: English Translation:
Oganaich uir a’ chuil teudaich Oh noble youth with long black hair
‘S oil liom eudach a bhith dhith ort I hate it that you are wanting clothing
Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil
Chuir Roinn Eorpa clo am beart dhuit Europe has put cloth in the loom for you
‘S gu tig e as cha bhith sith ann And until it comes out, there will be no peace
Sèist: Chorus:
Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil
O hugaibh, hug a ri hug O hugaibh, hug a ri hug
Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil
Ach, bith bithidh i fighte, cumte, luaidhte But it will be woven, shaped and waulked
Mus tig buain na Feill Mhicheil Before the harvest of Michaelmas comes
Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil
Gun tig gruagaichean Chlann Raghnaill The maidens of Clanranald will come
Comhlain dhaicheil nach dean diobradh Handsome bands which will not desert you
(Sèist) (Chorus)
Gun tig nionagan o’n Cheapaich Girls will come from Keppoch
A bheir caithris air mun sgithich Who will keep a night-watch on it ‘ere they tire
Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil
Is gheibh sinn sgioba eile a Eirinn And you will get another crew from Ireland
O Iarl’Antram nan steud riomhach From the Earl of Antrim with his handsome horses
(Sèist) (Chorus)
Mar sin is Niallaich thar saile Likewise MacNeils from across the sea
Far shruthain laidir an lionaldh Over the strong currents of the flowing tide
Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil
Na b’ionann seo ‘s an luadhadh dosgach Let this not be like the disastrous waulking
Bha’n Cuil-lodair nuair a phill sinn There was at Culloden, when we retreated
(Sèist) (Chorus)
Cuireamaid ‘na eideadh Tearlach Let us dress Prince Charlie in his equipment
Stracamaid an aird ar dichioll Let us aim at the height of our endeavor
Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil
Dh’fhaodadh e bhith’n drasda umad You could have been wearing the cloth now
‘N a thrusgan urramach rioghail As an honored royal vestment
(Sèist) (Chorus)

Book of Deer: Folio 5 Recto

Folio 5 recto from the Book of Deer; the text of the Gospel of St. Matthew from 1:18 through 1:21. Note the Chi Rho monogram in the upper left corner. The margins contain Gaelic text.

The Book of Deer (Leabhar Dhèir in Gaelic) (Cambridge University Library, MS. Ii.6.32) is a 10th-century Latin Gospel Book with early 12th-century additions in Latin, Old Irish and Scottish Gaelic. It is noted for containing the earliest surviving Gaelic writing from Scotland.

The origin of the book is uncertain, however it is reasonable to assume that the manuscript was at Deer, Aberdeenshire, Scotland when the marginalia were written. It may be the oldest surviving manuscript produced in Scotland, and is notable for having possibly originated in what is now considered a Lowland area. The manuscript belongs to a category of what are known today as Irish pocket Gospel Books, which were produced for private rather than for liturgical use. While the manuscripts to which the Book of Deer is closest in character are all Irish, most scholars argue for a Scottish origin. The book has 86 folios and measures 54 mm by 107 mm. It is written on vellum in brown ink and is in a modern binding.