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Metadata for text 134
No. words in text53373
Title Orain, Marbhrannan, agus Duanagan, Ghaidhealach
Author Dughalach, Ailein
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1829
Date Of Language 1800-1849
Publisher Alastair Mac-an-Toisich
Place Published Inverness
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 Literature, Verse
Alternative Author Name (1) Allan MacDougall; (2) Ailein Dall
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 18.5cm x 11cm
Short Title Orain
Reference Details EUL, Sp. Coll: JA3629
Number Of Pages xii, 208
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context Allan MacDougall was born in Glencoe around 1750. His parents were poor and when he was a young man, MacDougall was apprenticed to an itinerant tailor: ‘The excursive nature of this occupation, accorded well with Allan’s disposition—the house in which they wrought, was literally crammed every night with young and old, who passed the time in reciting old legends—tales of love, of war, of the chase—intermingled occasionally with songs and recitations of ancient poetry. Thus nurtured, Allan soon became famed for his fund of legendary lore’ (MacKenzie, Sàr Obair, p. 298). After becoming blind – MacKenzie (ibid.) tells a story of how this may have happened – and being no longer able to continue in his trade, MacDougall turned his attention to music. He became a proficient fiddle player and earned some money playing at weddings and other social events. In 1790 MacDougall and his family moved to Inverlochy, where they had been given some land and a small house by a benefactor, Mr Stewart. While his family worked the land, Allan MacDougall earned a living playing the fiddle and singing songs in the area. Most of MacDougall’s songs were composed during this time and he became well known in the area and elsewhere.

Such was the popularity of his songs that MacDougall was pressed to publish them. He enlisted the help of the scholar and librarian Ewen MacLachlan, who wrote down the poet’s works and prepared them for publication. This collection included 25 of his songs, together with poems by MacLachlan himself and several other poets. It was published, under the title Orain Ghaidhealacha le Ailein Dughallach … maille ri Co’-chruinneachadh Oran is Dhan le Ughdairibh eile (Inverness, 1798). [EUL Sp. Coll. JA3625] Soon afterwards, MacDougall was taken under the patronage of Col. Ronaldson MacDonald of Glengarry. He was given a cottage and some land and so became Filidh Mhic-ic-Alastair, Flath Ghlinne-Garradh agus Chnoideart (see the title page of the present volume). MacDougall played the part beautifully, dressing up as befitted a family bard for all special occasions where he accompanied his patron, for example ‘to the gymnastic games at Fort-William’, where ‘his minstrelsy tended to enliven the scene, and to inspire the party with the almost dormant chivalric spirit of their country’ (MacKenzie, p. 299). He composed elaborate panegyrics on Glengarry and songs for various occasions, such as the games at Fort William, but he also continued to compose poetry that was unconnected to his position as a family bard. In 1828, MacDougall travelled throughout Argyllshire, Inverness-shire and Ross-shire, collecting subscriptions for a new edition of his compositions. The book went to press in 1829, with 1000 subscribers. Sadly, MacDougall died that year, before the book was published. He was one of the last of the family bards.
Contents This volume contains 54 songs by Ailein Dall. The first of these, Comhradh an Ughadair ’s a Charaid mu thimchioll an Leabhair So (pp. iii-vi), precedes the List of Contents and acts as a Preface to the collection. There follows An Clar-Innsidh (pp. vii-viii), listing the songs contained in the following pages. Next, after an explanatory note headed Do ’n Leubhadair (pp. ix-xii), come two songs that were received from the author too late to be included in the body of the text. These are Oran do ’n Bhata-thoite, da ’n goirear an Ceann-fine (pp. ix-x) and Oran do Dhuine Uasal Araid, Alastair Mac-Rath, a bha na Dheagh Charaid do ’n Bhard (pp. xi-xii).

After these preliminaries the collection proper begins. It consists of 51 songs by the author (pp. 1-208). The first 24 of these, plus Comhradh an Ughadair, had previously appeared in the 1798 volume referred to above. See below, Edition, for the status of texts of MacDougall’s poems contained in the earlier volume.
Sources
Language MacDougall’s works contain a number of elegies and laments, including Marbhrann do Mhac-ic-Ranuill na Ceapaich (pp. 1-4), Marbhrann do dh’ Fhear Achatriachadain (pp. 84-88), Cumha do dh’ Oighre Mhic-ic-Alastair, a dh’ Eug na Leanamh (pp. 100-05), and Cumha do dh’ Eoghan Camshron, Fear Ghlinn-nibheis (pp. 168-72). Oran do Mhac-ic-Alastair Ghlinne-Garradh, air Dha bhi gu Tinn (pp. 80-84) contains elegiac elements, as Glengarry’s ill health reminds the poet of recent bereavements suffered by Clan Donald: ‘’S so a bhliadh[n]a gun eibhneas, \ Fhuair clann Domhnuill an leireadh mar tha; \ Sgeul duilich ri eisdeachd, \ Chaill iad ceannard nach creubhadh am màl: \ Bàs a Mhor-fhir Shleibhtich, \ ’S leor a luaths doibh an t-eug ’thigh’nn a d’ dhail, \ A cheann-cinnidh nan treun-fhear, \ ’S gun duil ri thu dh’eiridh gu bràth’ (p. 81). The phraseology used in the elegies and laments contains numerous parallels to that of the praise poems.

A number of MacDougall’s songs are in praise of individuals, including Oran do Mac-Pharlain, Piobaire (pp. 39-42), Oran do Thainisteir Ghlinne-garradh (pp. 117-23), Oran do Shiosalach Shrath-ghlaise (pp. 165-68). There are three songs entitled Oran do Mhac-ic-Alastair (pp. 5-8, pp. 9-12, and pp. 13-17). Some of these are written about, or after, specific events, e.g. Oran do dh’Ailein Cam’ron an Earrachd air dha bhi na Mhàidsear (pp. 22-25) and Oran do Thighearna Ghlinne-garradh air dha dol do ’n Ghearmaillte (pp. 96-99).

The praise songs contain traditional panegyric motifs. For example, in Failte an Ughadair do dh’Aonghas òg Ghlinne-garradh (pp. 124-27), Angus is praised for the military prowess of the men he commands: ‘Craobh dhireach gun fhotas, ceann-cinnidh chloinn-Domhnuill, \ Leis an eireadh am mor-shluagh, le ’n roisealaibh àrd; \ ’S na ’n d’ thigeadh iad comhla, gu seasamh do chorach, \ Bhiodh fuil air a dòrtadh le’n comh-stri ’s a bhlàr: \ Le ’m biodagaibh troma, ’s le ’n cloidheanaibh loma, \ A dheanamh am pronnadh, ’s an tolladh le ’m bàr: \ Bho neart nam fear-foinnidh, bhiodh an naimhdean ’s a choinneamh, \ Air a gearradh ’nan sconnabh mar chonnadh air làr’ (pp. 124-25). In a number of the praise songs, the subject’s hunting prowess is praised, in addition to his skills in battle. For example, Oran do Mhac-ic-Alastair, air dha Bheannachd a thoirt do ’n Ughadair (pp. 160-65) includes the lines: ‘Leat is taitneach fo d’ sgeith \ Gunna glaic air dheagh ghleus, \ Ann a’ fireach, ’s am beinn, \ Dol a shireadh an fheidh, \ Coin a’s gillean a d’ dheigh: \ Buidheann ur nan lann geur, \ Leis an ruisgte na bèin, \ ’N àm dubhradh do ’n ghrein nadurra’ (p. 163).

The subject’s generosity with regard to the provision of alcohol is frequently praised. In Oran do Mac-Pharlain, Piobaire (pp. 39-42), the piper is addressed as follows: ‘Sar cheannchadair na dibhe thu, \ Nuair a shuidh tu s’ tigh-òsd; \ Air bord cha stòp a thaitneadh riut, \ Bidh fion ga òl gun airceas leat’ (p. 41). In Cumha do Dhomhnull Camshron, Lichd-ruaidh (pp. 127-31), the following lines occur: ‘Sàr bhiatach na dìbhe \ An àm suidhe ’s tigh-òsd’, \ Ort bu shuarach am botull, \ A bhi ga chosd air a’ bhord’ (p. 129). Kinship and pedigree are frequently referred to, as in several of the passages already quoted. Compare the following lines from Cumha do Mhac Dhughaill, Dhun-Olla (p. 105-11): ‘Bha thu shiol Cholla ’s nan gaisgeach, \ ’Thainig air aiseag bho Eirinn, \ Do ròiseal nan sluagh ’s nam bratach, \ Choisneadh buaidh na’ cath le ’n treundas’ (p. 109).

Two of the praise songs, Oran do ’n Chuideachd ’Thogadh am Brudhach-Mairi, do ’n Goirear “VOLUNTEERS LOCHABER,” ’sa bhliadhna 1795 (pp. 42-46) and Oran do ’n Reisemeid Duibh (pp. 89-96), are about the British army and national wars, e.g. ‘’S leinn is eibhinn a phachdaid \ Thainig dhachaidh bho ’n Eipheid; \ Sgeul fior air na gaisgich \ Nach robh tais ri uchd feuma: \ Luchd nan geur lannan sgaiteach, \ ’S nam breachdan an fheilidh, \ A rinn an onoir a sheasamh \ Do Righ Bhreatann a’s Eirinn’ (p. 89).

MacDougall’s songs also include two entitled Oran do Chomunn nam Fior Ghaidheal (pp. 136-42, 142-47), which praise Gaelic, the Gaels, and specific people who were involved in the Comunn, e.g.: ‘Marcach deas nan each uaibhreach, \ Morair uasal Bhraid-Albunn, \ ’S MacGhriogair a Rùadh-Shruth, \ ’Gam biodh sùicheantas ball-bhreachd: \ Siol nan Ailpeanach dileas. \ A bha na’n Righrean air Albuinn— \ Fior Ghaidheil cho cinnteach, \ ’S iad nach mill, sinn ’nar ’nearbsa’ (p. 146).

There are also a number of praise poems addressed to boats and their crews, particularly amongst the later poems found near the end of the volume, e.g. Oran do Bhirlinn Mhic-ic-Alastair (pp. 190-94), Oran do ’n Bhàta-thoite, Beinn-nibheis (pp. 194-97), Duanag do ’n Mhaighdinn Mhor-bheinnich (pp. 197-99), and Duanag do ’n Bhàta-thoite, Beinn-Loimein (pp. 199-201). The first mentioned, composed in 1824, contains the following verse: ‘Bheannuich sinn air tùs na maidne, \ An iubhrach ùr, a bùird, ’s a h-achdair, \ Eadar chroinn, a’s shiùil, a’s shlatan, \ A h-ailm ’s a stiùir, a buill ’s a h-acfhuinn, \ ’S a raimh chul-dearg ’na bachdaibh \ Aig fir luth-chleasach na ’n glachdaibh, \ Bheireadh tulgan sunntach, sgairteil, \ Gun sgios, gun iomral, gun airteal, \ ’S an cuan ùdlaidh ’bruchdadh as-caoin, \ Mu scairean a sùigh a slachdraich’ (p. 190).

MacDougall’s songs are often richly descriptive, and many of them contain strings of adjectives in the manner of the earlier bards. For example, the following verse occurs in Smeorach Chloinn Dughaill (pp. 67-70): ‘Dughallaich nan geur-lann aisneach, \ Guineach, beimneach, speiceach, sgaiteach, \ Dol ri feum le treundas gaisgidh, \ Garg ’s a streup, ’s bha ’n leus ri fhaicinn’ (p. 69). Similarly, in Oran do ’n Reisemeid Duibh (pp. 89-96), the following verse occurs: ‘Bha ’n seann-fhreiceadan ainmeil \ Ann an Albainn ’s an Eirinn; \ Le ’m breachdanaibh ball-bhreachd, \ Maiseach, dealbhach, an fhéileadh; \ Mea[n]mnach, acfuinneach, armach, \ Geur-chalgach gu reubadh; \ ’S an taobh eile do ’n fhairge, \ ’S tric a dhearbh iad an treunadas’ (p. 93).

There are a few love-songs in this volume, e.g. Oran Gaoil (pp. 51-54), Oran do Cheilidh Nuadh Posda (pp. 55-56), and Oran do Dhughall Og Mac-Lachuinn, which MacDougall composed as though it were spoken by a lover (pp. 56-58). Amongst MacDougall’s more light-hearted songs, however, we find a number which touch on love and marriage, such as Oran do ’n t-Shuirdhidh (pp. 58-62), Oran anns am bheil an t-Shuirdhidh air a Samhlachadh ri Sgibeireachd (pp. 63-66), Gearan na Mnatha an Aghaidh a Fir (pp. 148-53), and Oran mar gun Deanadh Duine Og e, ’s e Pòsda ri Caillich (pp. 186-89).

There are three songs about drunkenness: Oran do ’n Mhisg (pp. 47-49), Duanag do ’n Uisge-bheatha (pp. 49-51), and Oran air Trod Mna-an-Tighe ri ’Fear, air son a bhi ’g ol an Drama (pp. 77-80), and two songs about tobacco and snuff-taking: Duanag do dh’ Adhairc an Tombaca, air dhi a bhi Falamh (pp. 111-13) and Oran do Thombaca na Sreothadaich (pp. 114-17).

One of MacDougall’s most important songs is Oran do na Ciobairibh Gallda (pp. 29-33), in which he comments on the way people were being cleared to make way for sheep-runs in the Highlands in his day: ‘Cha ’n ’eil àbhachd feadh nam beann, \ Chaidh giomanaich teann fo smachd; \ Tha fear na cròichdeadh air chall, \ Chaidh gach eilid a’s mang as; \ Cha ’n fhaighear ruagh-bhochd nan allt, \ Le cù seang ga chur gu strath: \ An eiric gach cuis a bh’ ann, \ Feadaireachd nan Gall ’s gach glaic’ (p. 30).
Orthography The orthography appears is characteristic of the early to mid-nineteenth century. The grave accent is used occasionally – mostly, it would seem, where the editor sensed there could be ambiguity, e.g. còrr (p. 31). There are a relatively small number of printer’s errors.

MacDougall’s language is essentially literary Gaelic and, as such, is relatively free of dialectalisms. On the other hand, a few North Argyllshire or Lochaber pronunciations are allowed to stand, e.g. the /xk/ pronunciation of -c after a short vowel is indicated by spellings like shachd for shac and bhreachdan for bhreacan (both p. 31).
Edition Second edition. The prefatory poem and the first 24 of MacDougall’s poems in the present volume had already been printed: see Orain Ghaidhealacha (Edinburgh, 1798), pp. 5-108. Comparison of the two editions indicates that the earlier one had already benefited from the care and consistency of its scholarly editor, Ewen MacLachlan. Nevertheless, some additional revision lies behind the 1829 edition, whoever was responsible for it. (MacLachlan had died in 1822.) For example, the poem-title Do na Cib-fhearan Gallta (1798, pp. 3, 36) became Oran do na Ciobairibh Gallda in 1829. In this poem, in addition to some modernisation and standardisation of spellings, a small number of significant editorial changes are to be noted: e.g. fo’ fhliodh in verse 1 had appeared as fo’ shliodh in 1798, and crodh guaillfhionn in verse 4 had been Crodh guailleach in the earlier printing.

Additionally, the 1798 volume contains a few footnotes explaining particular meanings and usages. For example, we are told that tagha nan arm is ‘a poetical name for the sword’ (1798, p. 14), and that Tridhear is another way of saying Trionaid (1798, p. 21).

As a consequence of this variation editors should check the readings of the 1798 volume where applicable, and be prepared to cite them if appropriate.
Other Sources
Further Reading Black, Ronald, An Lasair (Edinburgh, 2001: Birlinn).
MacKenzie, John, ed., Sar-Obair nam Bard Gaelach (Glasgow, 1841: MacGregor, Polson, &Co.).
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