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Metadata for text 170
No. words in text100584
Title Comh-chruinneachidh Orannaigh Gaidhealach
Author Various (The Eigg Collection)
Editor MacDomhnuill, Raonuill (Raghnall Dubh)
Date Of Edition 1776
Date Of Language Various
Publisher Walter Ruddiman
Place Published Duneidiunn
Volume Vol. I (There were no further volumes.)
Location National and academic libraries
Link Digital version created by National Library of Scotland
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Various
Register Literature, Verse
Alternative Author Name MacDonald, Ronald
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 17.5cm x 11cm
Short Title Comh-chruinneachidh Orannaigh Gaidhealach
Reference Details NLS: ABS.1.86.153
Number Of Pages xviii, 373
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context Ronald MacDonald was the son of Alexander MacDonald, better known as Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair. He was born around 1728. For a time, in 1744, MacDonald substituted for his father as the school-master in Ardnamurchan. The Eigg Collection was so named because at that time, MacDonald was living on the farm of Laig on the Island of Eigg. His was the first collection of older Gaelic poetry to appear after the publication of the poems of Ossian in the 1760s, and it set the tone for later collections, such as those by A. & D. Stewart, John Gillies, and Patrick Turner. This collection was presumably based on collections of poetry made by his father, and Ronald may also have drawn on the manuscript collection of Hector Maclean of Grulin (see Sources below). Although this edition is entitled Vol. I, and although MacDonald alludes to a second volume in his Preface, noting that it ‘will consist of poems of a much older date’, no second volume was forthcoming.
Contents This volume begins with a dedication by the editor to ‘James Grant, younger, of Coriemony, Esq; Advocate’ (pp. iii-iv). There follows a Preface (pp. v-xii), which begins with a short history of the decline of the Gaelic language. The editor then notes that the publication of the English translations of the poems of Ossian revived the nation’s love of Gaelic. He continues, ‘The Editor, moved by these considerations, and desirous to preserve his mother tongue, has bestowed much labour and expense, during the course of two years, in collecting the poems now offered to the public. Most of the pieces in the first volume have been composed within the last two hundred years’ (p. vii). He further notes that as the poems in this volume were composed relatively recently, some English words appear in them: ‘Excepting words introduced in this manner, and which could not be altered without doing violence to the meaning of the author, no expression has been admitted into the present collection but what is pure Gaelic, and no pieces have been received but those of approved merit’ (p. ix). He also notes that all of the poems in this volume are ‘set to music’ (p. ix).

We are then given some Instructions for Reading the Gaelic Language (pp. xiii-xiv), and An Clar-Inniseach (pp. xv-xviii), in which the songs are listed by Gaelic title, in the order presented in the book.

Co-chruinneachadh do dh’ Orain Gaedhelich (pp. 1-358) [Note how the title of this section differs from the title of the volume] contains 105 songs by a variety of authors including Màiri Nighean Alasdair Ruaidh (e.g. Fuaim an Taif, pp. 27-31), Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair (e.g. Failt na Mor Thìr, pp.118-21), Iain Lom (e.g. Oran do Shir Seumas, pp. 197-205), Sìleas na Ceapaich (e.g. Oran dh’ Alastair Ghlean-garradh, pp. 286-88), and John MacCodrum (e.g. Com-radh, mar go b ann eidir Caraid agus Namhaid an Uisgebheatha, pp. 213-19). The first song is Miann a Bhaird a fhuair Aois (pp. 1-5), and this is followed by the well known Prosnuchadh-Catha, by Lachlann Mor Mac Mhuirich (pp. 5-6). There follows Oran na Comhachaig (pp. 7-16), and Oran cumhadh Choire-’n Eas-a by am Piobaire Dall (pp. 16-20). The poems after this point do not appear to be in chronological order.

Translations of some of the Foregoing Poems (pp. 359-373) contains translations into English of six of the songs, including Miann a Bhaird a fhuair Aois, which also has a short introduction.
Sources Ó Baoill notes, at the beginning of his article in Scottish Gaelic Studies, that ‘No detailed study has yet been made of the sources used by Raonuill Macdomhnuill (Raghnall Dubh) for his Comh-chruinneachidh Orannaigh Gaidhealach’ (p. 209). However, Ó Baoill (1976) believes that five of the songs in this volume may have been copied from Dr. Hector MacLean’s manuscript, which is now housed in the Public Archives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Evidence for this is provided in the article. The MS was taken to Nova Scotia by John MacLean, the Tiree Bard, and from there fell into the hands of Alexander MacLean Sinclair, whose mother was one of John MacLean’s daughters. Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Glasgow University Libraries hold photocopies of this MS.
Language A majority of the songs in this volume are elegies, all of which contain elements of the panegyric code. There are also a number of eulogies, love songs, and songs in praise of place.

There are a large number of elegies and laments in this volume, all of which contain elements of praise for their subject. Examples include Marbh-rann do Shir Seumas Domhnullach by Gilleaspaig Dubh Mac Mhic Dhònail (pp. 21-23); Marbhrann Domhnuill Ghuirm Oig by Murchadh Mor Mac Mhic Mhurchaidh, fear Eichildi (pp. 23-25); Oran do Shir Lachluin Mac Ghilleoin triath Dhubhairt by Eachann Bacach, a song which is better known today as A’ Chnò Shamhna (pp. 85-89); and Marbhrann do mhac mhic Ailein (pp. 67-69) and Oran do Mhac Shimidh by Iain Dubh mac Iain Mhic Ailein (pp. 49-52). In this last song, we find ‘Tha fuil phriosoil Iarla Sìofort, \ Air a sìoladh ad bhallabh Rioghail; \ Glac nach crìn ma n òr. \ Càirdis fal u ’mhac mhic Ailein \ Dà uair daingeann ri Gleann-garadh, \ Car u mhic Ghilleòin’ (p. 50). Cumha do Mhac Leòid by Ruairidh Mac Mhuirich (pp. 53-57) ends ‘Maide dh’ fhàs na chraoibh thoraidh, \ Fuidh bhlàth onorach àluinn, \ Ann an lios na’n crann èachdach, \ Bha tlachd na’n cèud ann ’s gach ait’air, \ Lean an dutchas ba chathair, \ A mhic an Athair a chràidh sinn, \ Na biodh ad chrìnich gun duillich. \ Ann ’san ionad ’n do thàmh u’ (p. 57). In Cumhadh do Ghileaspaic Caimbeul Iarl’ Earra-ghaidhil … Leis an Aos-dana Mac Ithich, we find ‘Iarla duais-mhor earraghaidhil, \ Garg an Leoghan, \ Ba mhor an croidhe dh’ fhearabh Albann, \ Fhuil a dhortadh. \\ Dhaoine ge do fhuair sibh àite, \ Os ceann Cùirte, \ ’S olc a chuir sibh gliochdas Alba, \ Gu sùrd mhillte’ (p. 139).

There are also a number of love songs, most of which include elements of praise. Examples include Oran by Alastair Mac Choinnich (pp. 45-46), Oran by Iain Beton (pp. 46-48), Sean Oran a roinn Bana-chombhunich do Dhonil gorm Mac Ranuil mhic Ailen a Lennan (pp. 166-67), and Oran by Issachari M‘Aulay (pp. 220-23). In Oran by William Mac Choinnich (p. 42-44), we find ‘Ciochan corrach, lìnnte soluis, \ Air do bhroilleach rèth ghlan; \ Do sheang-shlios fallain mar an eala, \ No mar chanach slèibhe; \ Bas ionmhiuinn chaoin na’n geal mhear caol, \ A’ dealbh na’n craobh air pèurlainn, \ ’S tu fialaigh glic ’s do chiall gun tig, \ Air diamhaireachd na rèultan’ (p. 43).

There are few praise songs in this volume which are not elegies or love songs. Exceptions include Eachann Bacach’s Oran do Lach’unn mor Mac Gill-eòin, triath Dhubhairt (pp. 89-93) and Mairi Nighean Alasdair Ruaidh’s Luinneag Mhic-Leòid (pp. 107-10). We also find three songs in praise of clans: Moladh an Leoghuinn (pp. 78-84) and Smeorich Clann Doibhnil (pp. 257-60) by Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, and Smeoràch Chlann-Raoinuill by John MacCodrum (pp. 246-50). These songs are discussed within their relevent texts (The Songs of John MacCodrum, Text 165, and Ais-eiridh na Sean Chánoin Albannaich, Text 171).

A number of the songs in this volume contain elements of social and political commentary. Examples include Oran do dh’ Eoin breac Mac Leòid no Hearadh by an Clarsair Dall (pp. 103-06), and Oran Rinnruari by Inis M’ Alasdair Ruaidh (pp. 188-93), where we find ‘’S cha n ann leis na claidhin, \ Fhuair ar daoin-ina an leonadh, \ Ach nach d’ fhuair iad riamh fuirich, \ An lathair cumasg ri còmhraig, \ ’S mairg a chunnaic na sùighin, \ An tùs irraghail na doirin, \ Bhi gan spadagh le luaithe, \ ’S gun tilgidh buachaille bho i’ (p. 190). In Oran na Fineacha Gaidhealach by Ioin dubh mac Ioin mhic Aillein (pp. 247-51), we find ‘Thig Gordanich ’s Gremich, \ Grad gleusda as gach tìr, \ An cogadh Riogh Thiarllais, \ Gu’m bfheumail dha sibh; \ Griogaraich nan geur-lann, \ Dream speisoil nam pios, \ H’ar lium gu ’m bi ’n ea-coir, \ Nuar dh’ eighidh sibh sios’ (p. 251).

There are a few nature songs, or songs in praise of place, including Failte na moirthir (pp. 118-21) and Oran a Gheamhraidh (pp. 334-39) by Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, Iumairidh Alaistir as Eignaigh do dh Ioibhir-aoidh (pp. 143-46), and Oran a rinneadh do bhail’ arrait ann an Ardnamorchuan (pp. 205-12). In Oran cumhadh Choire-’n Eas-a by Am Piobaire Dall (pp. 16-20), we find ‘Siumragach, sealbhagach, duilleach, \ Min-leachdach gorm-shlèiteach gleannach, \ Biadhchair, riabhach, riasgach, luideach, \ Le ’n dìlte cuideachd gun cheannach. \\ ’S cruiteoil leam gabhail do bhràighe, \ Biolaire ’t uisge ma t innsibh, \ Mìodar maghach, cnochdach càthair, \ Gu breac blàthoir ann uchd mìn fheoir’ (p. 19).

There are also one or two songs of a more light-hearted nature, including Luinneag by Calum a Ghlinne (pp. 111-12), Com-radh, mar go b’ ann eidir Caraid agus Namhaid an Uisgebheatha by John MacCodrum (pp. 213-19), and Oran ’do throid nu bain Eiggach by Iain Mac Iain Mhic Ailein (pp. 293-95).

There are occasional footnotes throughout the text, explaining terminology. For example, we are told that Clar-sgithe is ‘A name for the Isle of Sky’ (p. 53), and that earrlaid means ‘earsba’ (p. 72).
Orthography The orthography is in general that of the mid-to-late eighteenth century. In some poems there is a high incidence of distinctive aberrant spellings, e.g. the doubled consonants in eggull, cheddachadh, and merricaishach (p. 176). There are also a number of orthographic inconsistencies, e.g. Domhnuill (p. 343) and Doibhnil (p. 257). It is possible that MacDonald did not standardise the orthography he found in different manuscript sources (see Ó Baoill’s article).
Edition First edition. According to MacLean (1915), the first edition did not sell as well as expected. In order to sell the remaining issues, booksellers reprinted the title page with the new date, 1782, in the hopes that customers would think they were buying a new volume. This new edition was published by John Gillies in Edinburgh. The 1782 edition, therefore, is exactly the same as the first edition, except for the title page. MacLean also refers to the later edition which was published by Patrick Turner in 1809. Editors should be aware that the poems in this volume may represent the earliest publications of some of the poems which appear in later collections.
Other Sources
Further Reading Cheape, Hugh, ‘The Gaelic Book – The Printed Book in Scottish Gaelic’, retrieved from https://www.ilab.org/eng/documentation/172-the_gaelic_book_-_the_printed_book_in_scottish_gaelic.html
MacLean, Donald, Typographia Scoto-Gadelica, 1915.
Ó Baoill, Colm, ‘Raghnall Dubh and Hector MacLean’, SGS 12, 1976, pp. 209-19.
Thomson, Derick S. (ed.), The Companion to Gaelic Scotland, 1994.
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