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Metadata for text 203
No. words in text44126
Title Tocasaid ’Ain Tuirc
Author MacGilliosa, Donnchadh
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 2004
Date Of Language 2000-
Publisher Clàr
Place Published Inverness
Volume N/A
Location National, academic, and local libraries
Geographical Origins Lewis
Register Literature, Prose and Verse
Alternative Author Name Duncan Gillies
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 20cm x 13.5cm
Short Title Tocasaid 'Ain Tuirc
Reference Details CM, personal copy
Number Of Pages 138
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context Donnchadh MacGilliosa was born in Ness in the north of Lewis in 1941. He studied at Aberdeen University and then moved to London, where he has worked as a teacher and as a gardener. MacGilliosa has also published a short book of translations from Shakespeare, Seachd Luinneagan le Shakespeare (1988). Together with Calum Greum he published a book of short stories translated into Gaelic, Thall ’s A-Bhos (1991). He also wrote a short novel for children, Disathairn’, which was published in 1992. MacGilliosa has two daughters. His second wife, Esther, is American, and they spend much of their holidays in America.
Contents The book begins with a Clàr-Innse (p. 7), giving the titles of the 16 short stories that follow. Many of the stories are named after one of the characters who appears in them. They are: Bàrdachd Mhurchaidh Bhig (pp. 9-16), An Tocasaid (pp. 17-20), Dòmhnall Iain (pp. 21-33), A’ Chliutag (pp. 34-38), Am Bromaire Mòr (pp. 39-43), ‘Sport’ (pp. 44-49), Calum Iain Thormoid (pp. 50-59), Cock of the Walk (pp 60-66), Na Brògan Donna (pp. 67-81), Iain Geur (pp. 82-91), Cailean Mi Fhìn (pp. 92-100), Am Fear Nàimhdeil, Neimheil (pp. 101-05), A’ Tilleadh (pp. 106-08), Turas Thormoid a Sgoil Steòrnabhaigh (pp. 109-16), An Sleapan (pp. 117-31), An Sleapan A-Rithist (pp. 132-38).

Although essentially a collection of short stories, in some places the book reads like a novel, as the same characters appear in a number of stories throughout the book. The characters themselves are very distinctive, and many of the stories are named after them. For example, the second story An Tocasaid tells of how Tormod (a twelve-year-old boy-genius) got this nickname by falling into a barrel of water when he was a young boy. Tormod appears in a number of other stories, including Cock of the Walk, where another young boy, Am Pluicean, with a reputation for being a bit of a bully, aims to challenge him to a fight at a fun-fair. When he sees Tormod successfully fighting off another boy, he changes his mind.

While most of the stories in this volume are written as if set in the real world, a section of stories in the middle of the book, beginning with Na Brògan Donna (pp. 67-81), and finishing with A’ Tilleadh (pp. 106-08), are presented as tales told to young Tormod by his grandmother. The tales focus on a pair of shoes owned by a prince. The shoes persuade the prince to leave his father’s kingdom, and the stories tell of his adventures and of the people he meets as he travels for a year and a day, with his brown shoes to guide him. Am Bromaire Mòr tells of a dream Tormod had, in which he finds himself trying to retrieve a stone with a hole in it which is hanging round the neck of an old man. The two stories about An Sleapan are centred around Clach an Truiseil, a huge standing stone in Baile an Truiseil on the West Side of Lewis. In the second story, An Sleapan meets Tormod for the first time, as Tormod is sitting on top of Clach an Truiseil (which stands nearly 6 metres tall), having scaled it using ropes. The two become good friends.

Most of the stories are humorous in some way, and many are slightly quirky. The text is interspersed with verse (much of which is also humorous), which is presented as having been composed either by the main characters themselves, or by others in the township. Bàrdachd a’ Bhuntàt’, for example, begins ‘O, ’ille chnapaich, nach math mar a tha: \ bho làn peile gheibh sinn poca no dhà, \ ’s tha thu fàs dhuinn bliadhna bho bhliadhna. \\ Tha thu fàs dhuinn bliadhna bho bhliadhna, \ ’s cha bhi ’m baile sa chaoidh gun bhiadh ann \ agus tus’ air do chùmhnadh slàn, fallainn’ (p. 52).
Sources
Language The stories are told in an informal manner, as though by a storyteller, and are often fairly descriptive. Local people and places are mentioned throughout. For example, ‘Sport’ begins ’S ann a’ snaidhm clò a bha Sport. Mar sin, bha a’ bheart na tosd. Cha chuir mise ceart ann an seo dè an seòrsa clò a bha e cur innt’. An e clò plèana glas a bh’ ann, no clò srianagach ceithir-spàil. No an robh aige ri atharrachadh na tappets. Co-dhiù, bha an clò a thainig aist’ aige fhèin ’s aig Tormod air a phasgadh. Bhiodh e shuas air mullach pilear a’ gheat’ sa mhadainn, mus tigeadh làraidh Tod, no làraidh Newall, no làraidh MacKenzie no làraidh Choinnich Rod. Bha Tormod air a tharraing gu bhith ann an cuideachd an Sport le bannan gràidh, ’s carson a bhiodh sinn diùid ga aideachadh (p. 44). The stories that are set as if in the real world are a good source of information about life in Lewis in the twentieth century, as can be seen from the above quotation.

The author has a humorous turn of phrase, and occasionally includes English phrases to good effect, e.g. Against all expectations, bhuannaich am Pluicean coconut. Seo an fhionnaraidh a choisinn Seonaidh Beag a’ Chnuic Àird half tea-set ag amaiseadh air targaid le gunna (p. 66).

The text contains some direct speech, which is mostly informal in tone. E.g. Chan eil fhios a’m (p. 44), Tud, co-dhiù (p. 49), Mo chreach-s’, a bhròinein, dè ’m math dhut a bhith faighneachd dhìoms’ (p. 67), and Siuthad a-nis, a bhalaich (p. 71).
Orthography This text is a good source of Lewis Gaelic. The Lewis dialect is apparent in the use of forms such as bhoill (p. 45), doras a’ bhùird-isein (p. 47), chan urra dhòmhs’ a ràdh (p. 118), cha robh ’n còrr ac’ air fhaicinn (p. 61), cleachdt’ (p. 61), and in names such as A’ Chliutag, Am Bromaire, and An Sleapan.

The orthography has been regularised to conform to GOC 2005.
Edition First edition. Some of the stories were initially published in Gairm.
Other Sources
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