The Fieldwork Archive tells us that eileabanachd might also mean tormenting or mocking. There are a variety of mocking descriptions of people in the Archive: cho grànnda ris a’ pheacadh, as ugly as sin; plosg de dhuine, or a big wobbly fat man. You might even be rather harsh and say: “chan eil eanchainn circe aige,” “he’s not even got a chicken’s brain to help him out!” Not everyone would be such an easy target however, as described by the following phrase: “tha cuid dhubhailcean ann aig am bheil aogas subhailc!” or, “some vices have the appearances of virtues.”
The Gaels have always been proficient in cursing. The poetry of James Macintyre is the good example of this. In Òran don Ollamh MacIain, the poet curses Dr Samuel Johnson, who toured the Highlands and wrote a disparaging report about the people he met. In the following verse, as translated:
“Amongst the fish you’re the purblind dogfish,
That snuffling monstrosity, the monkfish,
You’re the chicken from amidst the stench,
The badger with his nose three seasons in his arse…”
MacIntyre also refers to cursed trees in describing the man, specifically the elm, the alder and the aspen. In classical Gaelic poetry, people were often described in terms of blessed or cursed trees. This poem is rather brutal and I thoroughly recommend studying it in its entirety. If you plan on cursing someone soon, do make sure you utilise plenty of trees in your verse.
If you know of any ways of making mischief, or phrases connected to mockery, please get in touch below, or on Facebook or Twitter.
Most Recent Posts
13 April 2017
This term in the Fieldwork Archive was recorded from an informant in Harris in 1972.
Monday 10 April 2017
As we’ve seen before, Mac-Talla was very eager to be a proper newspaper that diligently reported on happenings around the world, but they also had a number of difficulties doing this, as we can see in this extract.
Monday 3 April 2017
Although the newspaper Mac-Talla was based in Sydney, Nova Scotia, it would sometimes take its stories from other papers, especially papers in Scotland, in order to report on news about the Highlands back in Britain.