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Metadata for text 68
No. words in text77790
Title An t-Ogha Mor, No Am Fear-Sgeoil Air Uilinn
Author Mac Dhonnachaidh, Aonghas
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1913
Date Of Language 1900-1949
Publisher Alexander MacLaren & Sons
Place Published Glasgow
Volume N/A
Location National, academic, and local libraries
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Skye
Register Literature, Prose
Alternative Author Name Angus Robertson
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 19cm x 13cm
Short Title An t-Ogha Mor
Reference Details EUL, Celtic Library: LIG MACDH
Number Of Pages 226
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator Uisdean Mac an Rothaich
Social Context Angus Robertson was born in Breakish, Skye in either 1871 (Black 2002: 723) or 1873 (Thomson 1994: 250). He was the third of five children and left home very young to earn a living in Glasgow. Although he returned to Skye for a few years to go back to school in Breakish, he eventually took up a post in a Glasgow publishing firm in 1890. Robertson lived in Glasgow until 1927. After moving to Glasgow, he started writing. Thomson (1994: 250) describes him as a novelist, poet, and publicist, and he was a good friend of Neil Munro. In 1907, he founded the Glasgow weekly illustrated paper, St. Mungo. Robertson spent the First World War as Controller of Publicity in the Ministry of Information. He was President of An Comunn Gaidhealach between 1922 and 1927. In 1923, he established the Bardic Crown, and in 1924 he travelled to America to promote the establishment of a Gaelic university in Iona.

Robertson married Rachel Cormack Donaldson in 1898. They had seven children: two sons and five daughters, two of whom died in infancy. One of his sons, Weston, joined the RAF and was shot down over France and later died. The poem Robertson wrote after this event, An Sgaradh was published in An Gaidheal. Robertson worked in London between 1927 and 1945. In 1933 he published a collection of essays under the title Children of the Fore-World, and in 1938 he published nine of his songs in Orain na Céilidh. His last publication was Cnoc an Fhradhairc (1940), which contained one 47-page poem, along with 28 shorter poems and songs, some works in English, and an introduction by the author. Much of his work has been reviewed in An Gaidheal. Robertson died in Bearsden in 1948.

Robertson adapted the story of Black Appin, which was published in St Mungo, and published his new version in three instalments in An Sgeulaiche (1909-10). An t-Ogha Mór is an extended version of these shorter instalments. It is a historical novel set in Skye and in London between the Jacobite Risings of 1715 and 1745. It begins in Skye with the marriage of Una Tolmie to Godfrey Rankin of Castle Moil. Una had intended to marry Iarlom MacKenzie of Kintail, and when she is forced to marry Rankin, Iarlom’s clan takes revenge. Una and Rankin’s baby is rescued after Una’s death and switched with the newly born baby girl of Eilean Donan. The baby girl is brought up in Edinburgh, and later London, as Margaret Kennedy, daughter of an esteemed Doctor. The story follows her life and the lives of her associates and suitors in the build up to the second Jacobite rebellion.
Contents The title adds the information that the illustrations (Fosgrachadh) in the book were by Uisdean Mac an Rothaich. This volume begins with a short note from the author to the reader entitled Ceann-Cuimhne, Spiorad Mo Chuideachaidh (p. iii). It is signed ‘Aonghas Mac Dhonnachaidh, Glascho, Earrach, 1913’. There follows a list of five corrections in Mearachdan Clo (p. iv); a Leisgial (p. v) by the author, in which he describes his orthographic principles, explaining that he has preferred to use the forms of words that he grew up with, rather than those that were most commonly recommended (see the Language section below); and Cuspaireachd (p. vii) – a table of Contents.

The story is divided into 15 chapters as follows: An t-Ogha Mor (pp. 1-22), Mac Fhraing Mu Dheireadh (pp. 23-35), Beud is Bacadh (pp. 36-46), Rioba nam Ban (pp. 47-64), Cuirtearachd (pp. 65-80), Earraig Cheilidh (pp. 81-103), Iain Ruairidh Mo Cheist! (pp. 114-24), An Dealachadh Beo (pp. 125-35), Turus na Criche (pp. 136-52), Gleusdachd (pp. 153-71), Foill, Is a’ Mhointeach Mhor (pp. 172-91), An Droch Condrachd (pp. 192-204), Ceol nan Claidheamh Dearga (pp. 205-17), and An Tathaich (pp. 218-26). This volume also contains four full-page illustrations.
Sources This volume is an extended version of a tale published in three instalments in An Sgeulaiche (1909-10).
Language The author’s style of writing is extremely rich. For example, in the first chapter we find ‘Suainidh an ceò ’na ghlaic, mar bhréid-bainnse, na sgùrran anns an dean iolaire nead, is i fad os-cionn ruigheachd an t-sealgair. No ma thig thu air coire fo spréidh, chi thu òighean ann am biorgadh an dreacha; is an sùilean aitidh, mar dhearcan fo chiucharan bhraon a’ soillseadh’ (p. 2). The eighteen-line sentence describing Broadford Fair begins ‘Bha ’n crodh is aonach orra leis an teas; coin ’gam blianadh ri taobh nan sruthan, ’s iad a’ ceapadh nan creithleag, a bha’g iarraidh do’n teangaidh ’s i mach; bodaich, ’sam buinn an sàs, a’ cumail lothan air taoid; bó-laoigh a’teicheadh bho h-aineol is casa-luatha gabhail bealaich oirre’ (p. 6).

The text contains numerous sayings and proverbs, distributed liberally throughout the text, and Robertson’s deployment of these gives an archaic ring to his narrative. For example, we find ‘Their cuid, gur math an airidh: seachainn thus an t-olc, is seachnaidh an t-olc thu. Glé cheart! Ach dé tha facal nan seanar ag ràdh? ‘Trì nithean a thig gun iarraidh: eagal, is iadach, is gaol’’ (p. 7), ‘Cha b’ ann gun aobhar a thuirt an t-Abrach: ‘Cum a-mach an Sasunnach, is thoir a-stigh an cù’’ (p. 67), ‘Cha’n e fuaidreag na liudha bheir bradan a àllt. Cha b’i thigeadh air a’ chliabh-mhòine. Mnathan a’ bhaile-mhóir, cha’n’eil de dh’fhuil annta na chuireas clann mu theine dhut’ (p. 102), ‘Bha, mar gu’m b-eadh, an àibheis ann an glaic nam beò’ (p. 6), and ‘’S fior do ràdh’ (p. 28).

The text also contains plenty of direct speech. Some of it is deliberately old-fashioned, in keeping with the subject matter and the period in which the story is set. For example, we find Iarlom MacKenzie addressing his men: ‘“Cha bu mhisd ’ur togradh, cuimir nan sreath ’s a’ chruadal.” “No cuireid nan ìnnleachd baoth,” thill fear. “No clach-fhiosachd Choinnich Odhair,” thuirt fear eile’ (pp. 3-4). We also find ‘Ach nach beag ar còir le chéile, araon air saorsa nan àllt, no air siubhal monaidh? Cha b’ann idir air ar soinne chruthaich Dia an talamh ’sa thoradh’ (p. 84), ‘Tionndaidh t’aghaidh mhosaich an rathad so. Oir cha toigh lium brodadh na muic’ a dheanamh ort’ (p. 101), and ‘Le’r cead’ (p. 164).

At other times the conversation is more natural, containing good examples of exclamations and addresses. For example, we find ‘Ealasaid, cè do làmh’ (p. 31), ‘“M’ anam! cha deachaidh,” fhreagair an té eile. “Ach c’arson a tha thu foighneachd?”’ (p. 33) and ‘An ainm an àidh! dé tha ceàrr?’ (p. 33), ‘Bha, laochain’ (p. 102), ‘A mhic an Fhir-mhóir!’ (p. 101), ‘Ubh! Ubh! Iain.’ (p. 123), ‘Eudail!’ (p. 131), ‘’Ille!’ (p. 136), ‘Ta!’ (p. 136), ‘Nirre!’ (p. 163), ‘Nach seanagarra ’m balach thu’ (p. 164), ‘Mac-na-croiche’ (p. 165), and ‘An Sealbh ’ga d’ ghleidheadh!’ (p. 194).
Orthography Although the text abounds with expressions and usages whose origins are to be sought in other directions, some forms and terms may reflect the author’s dialect. Examples include air tota na stiùire (p. 3), which the English language version (p. 5) translates as ‘on the rudder-thwart’, seachnaib mo chuideachta with final -aib and -a (p. 3), A’ bheil thu ’gam leanalt? (p. 71), cia luath ’s a (p. 76), là-na-mhàireach (p. 102), and the slenderisation of air a soin-se but not air mo shon (p. 102). On a number of occasions, footnotes tell us, in Gaelic, the meanings of particular words or phrases. For example, we learn that failmse means tuiteamas (p. 2), and that leispreidh means cion-aire (p. 82).

In general, the orthography is that of the early twentieth century, but this is partially obscured by a very considerable number of unorthodox spelling traits. Referring to some of these in the Leisgial, Robertson states that writes ia in preference to eu, and that he prefers the forms a-mhàin, a-ghnàth, a-muigh, a-màireach, etc. Other noteworthy preferences include ti’n in place of tighinn, mun do rather than mun a, and gamhrachadh rather than ganruchadh. He explains that he uses the word gheallaras to mean an geall air fios, and that he uses Pearda for ‘Page’. He prefers mu chuach rather than mu chua(i)ch, air cluas rather than air clua(i)s, and a’ togail fàireadh an fhir eile rather than a’ togail fàir(i)dh. He also uses foirefhios rather than forfhais. In addition to the vowel changes mentioned in the Leisgial, we may add that Robertson prefers lium to leam (p. 101), and aobhar to adhbhar (p. 67). The epenthetic a vowel is written in Bha’n t-anamoch (p. 131) and in an t-seana-bhean (p. 133).
Edition First edition. The date of this edition is taken from the Preface. The Scottish Gaelic Union Catalogue states that the book was published both around 1913 and again in 1919. I have been unable to locate a copy of the 1919 edition. An English language version of the book, The Ogha Mor, or The Tale-Man On His Elbow, was published in 1924 by Gowans & Gray in Glasgow. The translation was by the author, although he based it on a translation by Rev. Alexander MacKinnon. It contains an introduction by Neil Munro and, at the back, four pages in small print of ‘Press Notices of the Gaelic Edition’. Interestingly, the English language edition contains a dedication by ‘A. R.’ which reads ‘This I do in remembrance’, and which is dated Spring 1913 (p. ix). The dedication does not appear in the Gaelic text of 1913. The Gaelic language version was published again in 1980, by Volturna & Marsland, Peterhead, copyright Donalda NicLeòid. It is a direct impression of the 1913 version, although with smaller text. This publication states that the book was originally published in 1919. At the back of this book is a short essay entitled ‘Aonghas MacDhonnchaidh (1873-1948)’, written by Derick Thomson.
Other Sources
Further Reading Black, Ronald, An Tuil (Edinburgh, 1999: Polygon).
MacDhonnchaidh, Aonghas, An t-Ogha Mor (Peterhead, 1980: Volturna & Marsland).
Robertson, Angus, The Ogha Mor (Glasgow and London, 1924: [n. pub.]).
Thomson, Derick S., ed., The Companion to Gaelic Scotland (Glasgow, 1994: Gairm).
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