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Metadata for text 4
No. words in text25306
Title Bàrdachd Dhòmhnaill Alasdair
Author Dòmhnallach, Dòmhnall Alasdair
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1999
Date Of Language 1950-1999
Publisher Acair
Place Published Stornoway
Volume N/A
Location National, academic and local libraries
Geographical Origins Lewis
Register Literature, Verse
Alternative Author Name MacDonald, Donald Alasdair
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 20.6cm x 13.4cm
Short Title Bàrdachd
Reference Details EUL: PB1648.D473 Dom
Number Of Pages 127
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context Dòmhnall Alasdair Dòmhnallach was born in 1919 in Garrabost, in the district of Point in Lewis. Second oldest in a family of four children, he grew up listening to his father telling stories and to his mother singing. They lived in a ‘blackhouse’ and he gained his pre-school ‘education’ next door in the taigh-cèilidh. He spoke no English before he went to school but quickly learned the language. He developed an interest in Gaelic poetry from one of his secondary-school teachers, the Gaelic scholar and poet, Seumas MacThòmais, although he received no education in the language and left school unable to read or write in Gaelic. He left school early, due to the expense involved in attending the secondary-school in Stornoway, and took up croft-work and peat-cutting to earn some money to pay for a distance learning course, through which he spent three years studying English, history, geography, mathematics, physics, and chemistry. He also developed an interest in English poetry, after his brother gave him a copy of the book The English Parnassus, which comprised poetry from Chaucer to Fitzgerald. He then began writing verses in English, receiving encouragement from a national paper to which he had submitted his first poem.

Shortly before the Second World War Dòmhnall Alasdair joined the RAF and spent the duration of the war in bomber aircraft where he quickly rose to the rank of officer. After the war, he remained with the RAF for fifteen years, teaching and rising to the rank of Flight-Lieutenant, after which he retired with a pension. He loved being in the air and much preferred this to his later duties as a Flight-Lieutenant, where he spent much of his time in an office. When he left the RAF he returned to Lewis, built a house in Garrabost, and began studying for a qualification in teaching the blind. He worked with the blind in the Western Isles for 27 years. During this time he travelled widely in the islands, and became acquainted with the Gaelic poets Murchadh MacPhàrlain in Lewis and Dòmhnall Ruadh Choruna in North Uist. Rather than talking poetry, however, they discussed the First and Second World Wars. It wasn’t until he was in his sixties that he began learning to read and write in Gaelic, and shortly afterwards he began writing Gaelic poetry, some of which was published in the Stornoway Gazette. After writing an article in Gaelic for Gairm about his experiences in the RAF, he was encouraged by its publisher, Derick Thomson, to write short stories for the journal. A collection of the author’s short stories, Sgeulachdan Dhòmhnaill Alasdair, was published in 2001. Dòmhnall Alasdair Dòmhnallach died in 2003.
Contents This volume begins with a Facal-toisich by Joan Dhòmhnallach, the poet’s daughter, and a Ro-Ràdh by the poet. There follows 70 poems in Gaelic without English translations. The poems in this volume range cover a wide range of topics, including:

– Childhood reminiscences, e.g. M’ Athair (pp. 15-16) and An Taigh-Cèilidh (pp. 24-25).
– Current events, local and national, e.g. An t-Ospadal Ùr (pp. 73-74) and Sgrìobhadh Bhriain Mhic Uilleim (pp. 17-18).
– The Second World War, in which he served as a fighter pilot, e.g. Am Bomair (p. 26) and A’ Cuimhneachadh 1945 (pp. 86-87).
– Politics, e.g. O, Nam Faicinn Alba Saor (pp. 67-68) and Tuiream Iain Mhic a’ Ghobhainn QC MP (pp. 79-80).
– The Gaelic language, where he often reproaches those who are not supportive of it, e.g. in Nàimhdean ar Cànain (p. 91) and Tòmas Morton (p. 98).
– Death and old age, e.g. Am Bàs (p. 95) and O Thàinig an Aois (p. 126).
Sources
Language The poems are written in Lewis Gaelic, representative of the mid-to-late twentieth century. Typical of Lewis Gaelic, the poet uses amhrain rather than òrain (e.g. p. 24). Spoken Gaelic forms like sna in place of anns an do (e.g. p. 101) are commonly found.

The poems cover a wide range of topics, including war, politics, local events, and childhood reminiscences, and this volume contains a wide range of vocabulary, including:
– some boating terminology, e.g. in Mo dhùrachd (p. 59) and Am Bàta Briste (p. 22-23), where we find words such as crann and stiùir;
– some vocabulary from World War 2, e.g. in Amhran a Phìleit (pp. 120-21) and An Uair Ud (pp. 104-05), where we find words such as na solais-lorg, fùdar, and targaid;
– some nature vocabulary, particularly in the poem, Briseadh Latha (pp. 116-17) where the author describes seeing, for example, biast-dhubh, ròn, traon, and guilbhneach.

One of the poet’s noteworthy features is the variety of subjects covered in his poems, ranging from the traditional to the modern. However, despite the variety of vocabulary employed in these poems, none of the subjects involve technical detail. Much of the vocabulary used is in no way unique and can be found in many other sources. The vocabulary of most interest in this volume, as is the case with the same author’s Sgeulachdan (Text 002), is the terminology used to represent non-traditional items, such as solais-lorg, and the adaptation of Gaelic orthography for English borrowings, e.g. meileòdian ‘melodeon’, and fiùs ‘fuse’.
Orthography The orthography is that of the late 20th century.
Edition Some of the poems in this volume were published previously in the Stornoway Gazette. The edition is well laid-out and there appear to be few if any typing errors.
Other Sources
Further Reading Dòmhnallach, Dòmhnall Alasdair, Sgeulachdan Dhòmhnaill Alasdair, 2001.
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