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Metadata for text 129
No. words in text66047
Title An Cath Spioradail
Author (MacEachainn, Eoghan [transl.])
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1835
Date Of Language 1800-1849
Publisher Morisons
Place Published Perth
Volume N/A
Location National and academic libraries
Link Digital version created by National Library of Scotland
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Lochaber
Register Religion, Prose
Alternative Author Name Fr. Ewen MacEachen
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 13cm x 7.5cm
Short Title An Cath Spioradail
Reference Details NLS: H.M.312
Number Of Pages v, 162, 6, 5, 1 pages
Gaelic Text By MacEachainn, Eoghan (MacEachen, Ewen)
Illustrator N/A
Social Context This volume is a translation of Fr. Lorenzo Scupoli’s Il combattimento spirituale. Scupoli was a 16th century Catholic priest. In this volume, he prescribes a regime by which our souls may be guided towards perfection, and practical exercises by which we can combat our vices and learn to embrace the divine. This book was a favourite of the Catholic missionary St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622).

The following information has been taken from the Preface to the 1979 edition of MacEachen’s Gaelic-English Dictionary. Ewen MacEachen was born in Arisaig in 1769. He was educated for the priesthood at Valladolid in Spain and he became a noted scholar there, particularly in logic and in mathematics. After his ordination, MacEachen stayed at Valladolid assisting Rev. Alex Cameron, the Coadjutor Bishop, in his episcopal duties. When he returned to Scotland, he went first to Arisaig and then to Badenoch, where he built a chapel at Laggan. Afterwards, he stayed for a while at the Roman Catholic Seminary on Lismore as a Professor. In 1814, MacEachen moved to Strathglass to take charge of the Aigas Mission. In 1818, he went to Braemar, where he worked as a priest for twenty years. He died in 1849, at Tombae in Glenlivet.

MacEachen translated a number of religious and secular works into Gaelic, including this volume and De Imitatione Christi, which was published in 1836 as Leanmhuinn Chriosta  (for the date, see Maclean, Typographia, p. 2). He also translated the New Testament, though this was not published until 1875, having been edited by Rev. Colin Grant. MacEachen’s Gaelic-English Dictionary was published in Perth in 1842.
Contents This volume begins with Innse-Sgeoil (pp. iii-v) in which the translator declares: ‘Tha an leabhar so a’ fiachuinn ann a’ seòl sònraichte mar is còir dhuinn sinn fhein umhlachadh agus a chlaoidh. Tha e gar cur air rathad dìreach agus cinnteach anns am faod sinn gluasad gu rioghachd fhlathanais air ceuman na naomhachd a’s àirde. … An aon fhacal, tha an leabhar so a’ soilleireachadh ’sa fiachuinn mar a chleachdar ’s a chuirear an gniomh uile chomhairlean an t-soisgeil’ (pp. iii-iv). Regarding his Gaelic translation MacEachen makes the following claim: ‘Tha e nis air a thionndadh gu Gaidhlig. Agus gu Gaidhlig cuideachd ris na ghabhadh rud-eiginn saothrach, gus a fàgail rèidh soilleir dealbhach, saor o fhaclan Beurla, agus o Ghaidhlig leathan thuathach’ (p. v).

An Cath Spioradail (pp. 1-162) contains 66 chapters. The topic to be dealt with in each chapter is given in italics under the chapter number, in the following way: LV. CAIB. \ An dòigh a nitear deas airson comaine gu gaol Dè lasadh ’nar chridheachan (p. 137).

After p. 162 a fresh pagination begins (pp. 1-6), corresponding to an independent section entitled Riaghailtean air Dleasnasan a’ Chriostaidh Do Dhia; Dha Choimhearsnach; is Dha Fhein. It is stated that the precepts which follow have been gathered from the words of St. Francis Sales. The three sets of rules are presented as follows: Do Dhia (pp. 3-4), Gar Coimhearsnach' (pp. 4-5), and Dhuinn Fhein (pp. 5-6).

After p. 6 of the Riaghailtean another fresh pagination begins (pp. 1-5), containing a table of contents, entitled Suim, which gives the chapter numbers and the topics covered. A final page (unpaginated) contains a list of errata under the heading Iomraill.
Sources
Language This text contains long, flowing sentences, reflecting the latinate language of the original. It is written in the form of a direct address to the reader. The first chapter begins: ‘Ma ’s àill leat, o ainim chriostail, ruighinn air a’ cheum a’s àirde do chomhlionachd an t-soisgeil, agus thu fhein a shnaim ri Dia cho teann, is gur ionann spiorad dhutsa agus dhasan, cha ’n fhuilear dhut, gus an gnothach so, a’s uaisle a thèid a luaidh no smaoineachadh, a dhol leat, gu ’m biodh fios agad an toiseach air brìgh agus feartan caithe-beatha spioradail. Saoilidh cuid a dh’ fheadhainn, ’siad a’ toirt breth o leth-amach, gur i brìgh an naomhachd, a bhith dianamh breitheanas-aithrich, a’ caitheamh lèinte-gaoisid, gan claoidh fhein, a’ cur ri caithris ri traisg, is ri ciosnachadh am pearsa fhein’ (p. 1).

The topics covered in this text all relate to the struggle to cope with the temptations of human life. The text is full of practical advice aimed at teaching us how to deal with particular sins, and how to turn them into worship. For example, in Chapter 19, An dòigh air an còir dhuinn gleachd an aghaidh na mi gheanmhnachd, we are told: ‘Feumar gleachd an aghaidh a’ pheacaidh so air chaochla’ dòigh ri peacannan eile, is le barrachd cruadail; gu so a dhianamh, tha tri àmanan sònruichte agad ri thoirt fonear; ’s iad sin, ro ’n bhuaireadh, an àm a’ bhuairidh, agus an dèigh a’ bhuairidh’ (p. 44). The text adds: ‘Rud eile tha ri thoirt fonear, is tha sgiorraidh gach là ga chomhdach, gu bheil an cunnart daonnan nas mua anns na coinneamhan sin far is lagha a tha an t-olc ri lèirsinn, ’s air a bheileas a’ gabhail dànadais fo chleòca dàimh, comaine, dleasnais, no dea-bheusan is dea-ghiùlan na h-urra sin dha bheil ar spèis’ (p. 45). At the end of this section, we receive this advice: ‘Cuir crioch air do chràbhadh leis an achanaich so na leithid eile. O Chruthadair agus mo Shlànair, teasraig mi o m’ naimhdean as leth do mhòir mhathais fein agus luaidheachd do bhàis dhòruinnich. Ach thoir an aire nuair a bhios tu cantuinn so, nach smaoinich thu air a’ pheacadh àraidh ris a bheil do sthrì [sic], oir a’ smaoineachadh a’s lagha ni thu air tha e cunnartach dhut’ (p. 49).

The sinful state of the human condition, and our attitudes towards sinning, are central to this text. In chapter 12, for example, we find ‘Tha dà thoil ann am mac-an-duine, a h-aon na h-uachdaran, agus an aon eile na h-iochdaran. Ris an toil a tha na h-uachdaran theirear am bichiontas reuson; ach ris an toil a tha na h-iochdaran, an fheol, a’ cholunn, ana-miannan.’ (p. 27). Later on, the text proceeds to explore the dà thoil in more detail: ‘Gu deimhinn, mar nach iarr an toil aonta na feòla gu sud na so a raghuinneachadh, ’s amhuil sin nach bristear air saorsuinn na toil a dh’ aona bhuaireadh ge an dian an caraid meallta so an fheoil; oir fhuair an toil feartan cho mòr o ’n Tì a ’s àirde, is nach ’eil e an comas uile bhuiridhean na feòla, no ’n droch spioraid, no ’n t-saoghail gu lèir, ged bhitheadh iad uil’ am bonnaibh a chèile, glideachadh air a saorsa …’ (p. 35).

The text contains a certain number of biblical quotations. In chapter 35, for example, we are given appropriate biblical texts to help us fortify our resolve: ‘An fheadhainn a tha strì ri ciuine no faighidin a thoirt a mach, faodaidh iad na puincean so no lethbhreac a chantuinn. Cuir suas gu faighidneach ri feirg Dè, a tha tighinn ort mar dhiùghaltas airson do pheacannan, (Bar. iv., 25).—Faighidin nam bochd cha tèid a mhùthadh, is cha chaill i duais. Is fhearr an duine faighidneach na ’n duine làidir, agus esan a riaghlas inntinn na fear a sgriosas bailtean, (Gna. xvi., 32)’ (p. 95). These texts are to be supplemented by prayer, of which suitable specimens are supplied: ‘O mo Dhia, cuin a bhios airm na faighidin orm mar sgèith air nach drùigh saighdean mo namhud? Cuin a bhios mo ghaol dhut cho teth, is gu ’n gabh mi toil-inntinn as a h-uile trioblaid a dheònaicheas tu leigeadh am rathad? O bheatha m’ anma, nach tòisich mi idir air a bhi beo dhutsa ad aonar, làn striochte ris a h-uile h-anshocair?’ (p. 95).

In many of the later chapters, e.g. in chapter 51, Smaointean air fulangas Chriosta, agus na gluasadan cridhe bu chòir tighinn uapa (pp. 124-29), we find references to Jesus’s crucifixion: ‘Ma ’s math leat bròn trom a ghluasad ann ad chridhe airson do pheacannan, leig do smaointean air so mhàin; ma dh’ fhuilig Iosa Criost’ urad so do dhòruinn, cuimhnich gur h-ann gu fuath fallainn ort fhein a ghluasad unnad a bha e; is gu t’ ana-miannan a ghràineachadh, gu h-àraid an g[n]iomh sin a ’s mua a tha na aobhar peacaidh dhut, agus a ’s mua a toirt do mhasladh do Dhia uilechumhachdach’ (p. 126).

Later in this chapter, the text returns to the subject of human nature and sin: ‘o na bha gaol aig’ an t-Slanair naomh so air clann-daoine fos cionn tomhais, dh’ fheumadh miad agus teas a charrannachd a lionadh le briste-cridhe, a chionn gu ’n sgaradh am peacadh uaith’ iad. Bha fios aige nach b’ urruinn duine tuiteam ann am peacadh bàis, gun a’ charrannachd, agus naomhachd nan gràs a chall, a bha nan ceangal diomhair eadar esan agus na daoine taghte; is bha bristeadh an t-snaim sin na aobhar bròin do Iosa nas mua na bha cur cnàmhan a choluinn’ as na h-uilt: a thaobh is gu ’m beil an t-anam spioradail, ìs mòran nas fìnealta nàdur na cholunn, is nas mua faireachduinn air pian’ (p. 127). At the end of the chapter, we are told the moral of the story: ‘Ma ’s goirt le d’ chridhe a bhi faicinn do Shlànair fo dhòruinn cho trom, lean a chùis nas fhaide, agus chi thu nach ann a mhàin airson nam peacannan a rinn thu, ach airson nam peacannan nach d’ rinn thu, a dh’ fhuilig e cho goirt; oir am boinne mu dheireadh dhe fhuil phrìseil dhoirt e, gus do ghlanadh o ’n chiad chuid, agus do thiarnadh o ’n ath chuid’ (p. 128).

Riaghailtean air Dleasnasan a’ Chriostaidh Do Dhia; Dha Choimhearsnach; is Dha Fhein (pp. 1-6) contains 45 Rules in its three sub-divisions. The Duties to God include: ‘2. Gabh beachd math ar Dia, is ort fhein, is cha ’n fhaic thu Dia gu bràch gun mhathas, no thu fhein gun truaighe’ (p. 1). The Duties to Neighbours include: ‘1. ’Se gaol ar coimhearsnaich craobh an eòlais; cha ’n fhaod sinn binn a thoirt air, a thaobh gur e Dia na aonar an t-aon Fhear-breth’ (p. 2). The Duties to Ourselves include: ‘4. Smoinich gu tric air an t-siorruchd, is cha chuir dridfhortan saoghalta ort bruaidlean’ (p. 5).
Orthography The orthography is fairly typical of the early to mid-nineteenth century, e.g. in its relatively frequent use of accents. Fr. MacEachen had definite views on Gaelic orthography, inclining towards spellings that reflected current pronunciation rather than etymology or past history. He tends to use a rather than u in unstressed syllables, e.g. nàdar (p. 18), although we also find nàdur (p. 127). Note also in this context the spellings bichiontas (e.g. p. 18), ime sin (e.g. p. 19), lionor (p. 79), faighidin (e.g. p. 95), nas mua (e.g. p. 127).

The translator, who was also a dictionary-maker, cast his net widely to find suitable idioms and expressions to translate this often challenging text. He worked independently of the mainstream (Protestant) tradition of religious prose writing in Gaelic, and some of the terminology is his own invention. Although he addresses the reader directly he does not aim to produce a colloquial text. And although some of his own Arisaig Gaelic idioms may have found their way into his discourse, this is not a dialectal but a polished literary product.
Edition First edition. A second edition was published in Perth in 1909. The orthography was modernised for the 1909 edition. In the second edition, the contents are at the beginning of the book, and the section on Riaghailtean air Dleasnasan a’ Chriostaidh has been excluded.
Other Sources
Further Reading MacEachen, Ewan, Gaelic-English Dictionary, 1979.
Roberts, Alasdair, ‘Maighstir Eobhan Mac Eachainn and the orthography of Scots Gaelic’, TGSI 63, 2002-2004, pp. 358-405.
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