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Metadata for text 27
No. words in textN/A
Title Suileabhan, Sgeulachdan à Eachdraidh-Beatha Iain MhicLeòid (1889-1956)
Author MacFhearghuis, Calum
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1983
Date Of Language 1950-1999
Publisher Gairm
Place Published Glasgow
Volume N/A
Location National, academic and local libraries
Geographical Origins Lewis
Register Literature, Prose
Alternative Author Name Calum Ferguson
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 20.7cm x 14.5cm
Short Title Suileabhan
Reference Details EUL: CT828.M2Macf
Number Of Pages 144
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context In this volume, MacFhearghuis has brought together stories about the life of Iain MacLeòid (1889-1954), otherwise known as Suileabhan, from Port Mholair, in Point, Lewis. Suileabhan was a well known character who had travelled the world and lived and worked in many countries. In his later years, he returned home and became well known as a storyteller. From 1950 to 1954, MacFhearghuis used to visit regularly with Suileabhan and heard from him, first hand, the tales of his travels and exploits. MacFhearghuis began writing down some of the stories around 1971 and this volume was published in 1983. The stories are written as if told by Suileabhan himself.
Contents This volume begins with a Clar-Innse (p. 5) and a Roimh-ràdh by the editor (pp. 7-9). There follows a chronological list of Suileabhan’s travels and jobs (p. 10). The main body of the text is presented in thirty-five chapters, each containing one of Suileabhan’s stories about his life (pp. 11-132). We also find a chapter by MacFhearghuis entitled Man a Chunnacas Suileabhan (p. 133), and two further chapters, both entitled Annas Naidheachd (pp. 137-141). The first of these is a story about Suileabhan, told by Eòghainn Mhurchaidh Eòghainn, and the second is a short account by MacFhearghuis relating to one of the stories mentioned in the volume. Pages 142 and 143 contain pictures of Suileabhan, and other photographs and drawings are spread throughout the text. The line drawings are by MacFhearghuis. An English language book celebrating the life of Suileabhan has recently been published by the same author (A Life of Soolivan, 2004).

The stories range from tales about Suileabhan’s early school days, e.g. Blàr anns an Sgoil (pp. 11-14), to his ‘retirement’ in Port Mholair, e.g. An Ceige (pp. 128-130). The stories include tales about his adventures in Canada, e.g. Lannan Eisg ann am Manitoba (pp. 51-53), in Australia, e.g. Ann am Fàsach Astràilia (pp. 88-91), in America, e.g. Nuair a bha mi an Kalamazoo (pp. 105-107) and Strùp na Creich (pp. 117-19), and in Mexico, where he spent some months in jail before being deported, e.g. Leann-dubh ann am Meacsaco (pp. 125-27).
Sources MacFhearghuis recounts, in the words of Suileabhan (as far as is possible), stories that he heard from the man himself : ‘Sgeulachdan à eachdraidh-beatha Iain MhicLeòid (1889-1956) air an innse ’na chainnt fhèin cho fad ’s a ghabhas dèanamh, agus cumadh air a chur orra le Calum MacFhearghuis’ (p. 3).
Language The stories in this volume are told in the first person, as if the speaker was recounting his tales to an audience sitting with him round the fire. As such, the Gaelic used is informal and colloquial, and spattered with the odd word and phrase in English, for example ‘O bha iad cinnteach, ’ille. No doubt about that!’ (p. 17).

Terminology of interest includes terms of address, expletives, and similar phrases, which often occurr as a result of the informal style of writing. Examples include gabh dha! (p. 12), A Dhia (p. 17), geall gu bheil sinn … (p. 17), ma thogair (p. 17), fhios agad (p. 37), ’S a bhalaich ort (p. 37), fèir mus robh (p. 39), thurchair gun tàinig (p. 41), Gu sealladh Dia orm (p. 45), Nise, man a thurchair (p. 49), am bufalair! (p. 71), O b’ e an duine! (p. 71), A bhugair (p. 72), ’S an cac (p. 72), Mhic na croich! (p. 76), Mo chreach! (p. 76), Ach bun a bha seo, … (p. 88), A bhalachaibh (p. 89), A Shuileabhain na croich (p. 104), Gu sealladh sealbh orm (p. 118-19), a bhròinein (p. 119), A Thighearna (p. 122), and mo chreach mhòr (p. 126).

The Gaelic is often very descriptive, e.g. latha mòr cànranach (p. 15), man cat air lìon-beag (p. 17), cha robh taing an taigh a sheanar! (p. 17), air mo lanaigeadh ann an lannan agus roilean an èisg (p. 37), sùilean beaga, prabach, geur (p. 37), cho Gaidhealach ri fraoch na mòintich (p. 51), ’s mòr an t-eallach an t-aineolas (p. 67), cùl-na-còig ann an clàr an aodann (p. 67), air mo bhonnan man tòtaman (p. 69), dìol-dèirig gun dhachaidh, gun obair, a’ falbh na fàsaich gun chonn, gun cheann-uidhe – dìreach beò an dùil, man a bha cù a’ cheàird (p. 88), bha a’ ghrian ’na craos theine (p. 89).

The text also includes a few descriptions of the weather, such as gaoth bho thuath ann agus mill shneachd aice (p. 11), sgromag deighe air na lòin (p. 11), cuithe sneachd (p. 17), and aidhreag mhath gaoith (p. 15).

There are a number of Gaelic words that have been borrowed from English, for example fanndaigeadh (p. 12), baighseagail (p. 15), shoighnig mi air (p. 37), rèiseamaid (p. 37), seobhalaigeadh guail (p. 38), a mhàirdsigeadh (p. 39), fortan (p. 41), an gafar (p. 45), an seusan (p. 51), sòbarr (p. 72), caragu (p. 88), and ’nar prime (p. 104).

Other terms of interest include dìol-dèirce (p. 7) and dìol-dèirig (p. 88), dubh-ghràin agam oirre (p. 11), a’ chuip (p. 11), ’na mo bhrogach (p. 11), an top nan dos (p. 11), barr na h-amhach (p. 15), snagardaich air fhiaclan (p. 17), air an dèirig a thoirt dha (p. 17), an droch ghrèidheadh (p. 17), chaidh … ’na spealgan (p. 17), ’nan smùragan (p. 17), cìocras (p. 37), cho luath ’s a dh’fhidir mi (p. 37), Dia gum biodh air do chrann (p. 41), mus robh a’ bhliadhna ’na cèis (p. 51), dh’èarlaisich e sinn (p. 52), gach darnacha latha (p. 88), a h-uile bonn-a-sia a bh’ agam (p. 88), a h-uile stiall a bh’ agam (p. 89), and coinnle-brianain (p. 90).
Orthography The Point or at least Lewis dialect may be reflected by forms such as gach darnacha oidhche (p. 8), feagal (p. 11), man rather than mar, and cionnas (p. 61). The orthography is generally that of the late twentieth century.
Edition First edition. The English language version, A Life of Soolivan, includes extra text and explanatory material, as well as a glossary of Gaelic terms used in the book.
Other Sources
Further Reading Ferguson, Calum, A Life of Soolivan (Edinburgh, 2004: Birlinn).
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