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Metadata for text 84
No. words in text80720
Title Tuath is Tighearna. Tenants and Landlords
Author N/A (Edited work)
Editor Meek, Donald
Date Of Edition 1995
Date Of Language 1850-1899
Publisher Scottish Academic Press for the Scottish Gaelic Texts Society
Place Published Edinburgh
Volume 18 (Scottish Gaelic Texts Society)
Location National, academic, and local libraries
Geographical Origins Various
Register Literature, Verse
Alternative Author Name N/A
Manuscript Or Edition Ed. (with modernised orthography)
Size And Condition 22.1cm x 14cm
Short Title Tuath is Tighearna
Reference Details EUL, Celtic Library: LIG MEE
Number Of Pages xi, 332
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context This volume is ‘an anthology of Gaelic poetry of social and political protest from the clearances to the land agitation (1800-1890)’. It comprises 44 poems on the social and political upheavals surrounding the Highland Clearances of the early and mid-nineteenth century and the land agitations of the late nineteenth century.
Contents This volume begins with an Index of First Lines, an Index of Gaelic Titles, and an Index of Titles of Translations (pp. viii-xi). There follows a Preface, in which the editor acknowledges the help of a number of people (pp. 1-4), and a Bibliography (pp. 5-9).

There is a lengthy Introduction (pp. 10-40) which includes sections on the ‘Survival of the Texts’ (pp. 11-13), both in print and in the oral tradition; ‘The Great Dispersal’ (pp. 16-24), which considers the poems from the time of the Clearances (1800-1874); ‘The Struggle for Land’ (pp. 24-34), which considers the poems relating to the land agitations of the late nineteenth century and identifies the principal genres used in the poetry of this time, namely Meòrachadh, Deasbad, Brosnachadh, Moladh, Aoir, and Marbhrann or Cumha; and ‘Poets’ Perspectives’ (pp. 34-40) which discusses the common aims and motivations of poets during these troubled times.

There follows a section on Editorial Principles and Perspectives (pp. 41-46). In this section, the editor notes that this anthology ‘derives its material from a restricted data-base which is already unrepresentative of the period’ (p. 41). He notes that the objectives of the book were to ‘represent the range of poetic responses to different events, persons and processes during the nineteenth century’ and ‘to demonstrate, from the surviving material, the different types of song and verse which were deployed in responding to these events’ (p. 41). This section also reviews the distribution of the surviving material and the ways in which the material may have been altered over the years, and explains the selection of texts for this volume, noting that only a few poems have been selected from the repertoires of those poets whose work has been published elsewhere. The method of presenting the texts in this volume is also discussed, including the orthographical principles adopted (see Orthography below).

The main body of this text comprises 44 Poems and Songs, with notes (pp. 47-185). The poems are numbered 1 to 44. Notes at the end of each poem are given under three headings: Source, Tune, and Date and Context. In some cases there are also notes explaining meanings, references, variant readings, and textual emendations. In some cases a poem contains only a few stanzas. Sometimes this is because additional stanzas have been lost. Translations are given for all 44 poems (pp. 186-280).

Towards the end of this volume we find a Glossary (pp. 281-313) of Gaelic words used in the poems, giving their meanings in English, followed by the number of the poem and line in which they appear. This is followed by three indices: Index 1: Biographies of Poets (pp. 314-18), Index 2: Biographies of Political Figures who are mentioned in the poems (pp. 319-26), and Index 3: General which gives poem numbers and line numbers (pp. 327-32).
Sources Many of the poems were originally published in The Oban Times. See Edition below.
Language The songs presented in this volume are a valuable source for the vocabulary of social and political unrest in the nineteenth century in the Highlands and Islands. The poems come from a number of different areas, including Skye, Islay, Tiree, and Lewis.

There are a number of songs about emigration, mainly composed by those people who were left behind. For example, in ‘Venus’ nan Gàidheal (pp. 66-67) we find ‘Sgap mìorun iad thar fairge, \ ’S gun ach ainmhidhean balbh ’nan àit’; (p. 71), and in Manitoba (pp. 80-81) we find ‘Gur muladach mise ’s mi an seo gun duin’ idir \ A thogas, no thuigeas, no sheinneas leam dàn; \ Le dùrachd mo chridhe, soraidh slàn leis na gillean \ A sheòl thar na linne gu Manitobà’ (p. 80).

A number of the songs are about particular people, places, or events that played a part in the land agitations of the nineteenth century. For example Oran Muinntir Bheàrnaraidh (pp. 86-88) and Spiorad a’ Charthannais (pp. 90-97) relate to Donald Munro and the Bernera Riot of 1874. Na Croitearan Sgiathanach (pp. 102-04) and [Dùbhlan Fir a’ Bhràighe] (p. 106) relate to events that took place in Skye. Oran nan Saighdearan (pp. 155-56) relates to an incident in Tiree in July 1886 where police, and then soldiers, were sent to confront a group of crofters who had illegally occupied a tack. Ruaig an Fhèidh (pp. 184-85) commemorates the Park deer forest raid in November 1887.

In a number of cases, poems describe particular encounters. For example, Thàinig Sgeula gu ar Baile by Alasdair MacIlleathain describes an encounter between crofters and policemen in Glendale in Skye (p. 113): ‘Thàinig sgeula gu ar baile \ Gu robh am poilios tighinn gar glacadh, \ Tighinn a-staigh ’n a’ Ghleann le astar, \ ’S chuir siud gaiseadh ’na ar crìdh’ (p. 113). MacThàbhais an t-Sumanaidh (pp. 116-17) describes the events of 16th-19th January 1883, when Sheriff Officer James MacTavish and a band of policemen went to Glendale to serve interdicts to several crofters: MacTavish and his men were attacked by locals at Glendale Bridge.

Unsurprisingly, many of the poems criticise the landowners and factors who carried out the evictions and refused to give the people more land. Much of the poetry reflects the anger and sorrow felt by tenants, at what was happening to them and around them. For example, such lines as ‘Ach, fhir shanntaich rinn an droch-bheairt, \ Liuthad teaghlach bochd a ghluais thu; \ ’S iomadh dìlleachdan tha ’n ganntar \ Agus bantrach a tha truagh leat’ (p. 57); ‘Nuair thèid spaid den ùir ort, \ Bidh an dùthaich ceart, O raithill ò. \ Bidh gach bochd is truaghan \ A’ bualadh bhas, O raithill ò.’ (p. 74); ‘Dòmhnall dona, bronnach, brùideil, \ Dòmhnall gnùgach, ciarghlas, \ De Rothaich ghortach Bhaile Dhubhaich – \ B’ olc an cliù ’s an gnìomh iad;’ (p. 87); and ‘’S cianail fear saoibhir s e baoth, \ Gun fhios de chàradh chloinn daoin’, \ Ged chuireadh e mìltean gu truaighe \ Gu mealtainn aon uair de spòrs chaoich’ (p. 100).

In Bochdan na Rìoghachd (pp. 83-85) we hear that ‘Tha bochdan na rìoghachd \ Fo bhinn a tha cruaidh, \ Aig uachdarain fearainn \ ’S fo chìs aig an tuagh:’ (p. 83) and that ‘Tha riaghladairean na dùthcha \ Mar stiùir aig an nàmh, \ A’ fògradh nan laoch, \ ’S a’ toirt chaorach ’nan àit’;’ (p. 83). Some of these attacks are in the form of satire, such as Oran Cumha an Ibhrich (pp. 167-68), a ‘mock elegy’ (p. 168) to Sheriff William Ivory, leader of a military expedition to Skye in 1886; Bodach Isgein, about Joseph Arthur Platt, who leased Park deer forest in Lewis (pp. 180-83); and Aoir na Bàirlinn (p. 109).

The state of the Highlands and Islands, from the tenants’ point of view is also detailed in the poems. For example ‘Ged a dh’fhalbh ar cinn-fheachda, \ Gur peacach an tùirn \ Ma leigear ar creachadh \ Fo mheachainn a’ Bhrùin, \ Le maighstirean tuatha \ Nach buainticheadh cliù, \ ’S le balach gun chèireadh \ Nach èighear ’na dhiùc’ (p. 59); ‘Chan fhaicear sprèidh air buaile, \ ’S cha chluinnear duan aig banaraich; \ Far an robh na daoine, \ ’S ann tha na caoraich bhuidhe ann’ (p. 61); ‘Tha taighean seilbh na dh’fhàg sinn \ Feadh an fhuinn ’nan càrnan fuar; \ Dh’fhalbh ’s cha till na Gàidheil; \ Stat an t-àiteach, cur is buain’ (p. 71); ‘Càit a bheil na daoine \ Bha taobh nam beann àrd’, \ Le beagan cruidh is chaorach \ Air raon mar a b’ àbhaist’ (p. 83); and ‘Sinn tha neo-shunndach an dùthaich nan Gall, \ Le snigh air mo shùil, ’s beag an t-ioghnadh tha ann, \ ’S gach pàipear san dùthaich toirt cunntais san àm \ Mu chor ar luchd-dùthcha an dùthaich nam beann.’ (p. 130).

The crofters’ willingness to stand up and fight and to defend their rights is also evidenced in the poems. for example, ‘’S mi bha èibhneach nuair a leugh mi \ Mu ur n-èirigh còmhla, \ Ri guaillibh chèile, ’s rinn sin feum dhuibh – \ Ghlèidh sibh ’n grèim bu chòir dhuibh –’ (p. 86); ‘Mur leig e dheth a chleachdadh, \ A’ creachadh sluagh ar n-àite, \ Thèid trì-fichead againn dhachaidh, \ ’S clachaidh sinn gu bàs e.’ (p. 88); and ‘An reachd a bh’ againn cha trèig sinn, \ ’S cha leig sinn eug i dhar dheòin, \ Dh’aindeoin bagradh a shèidear \ No thig ’nar dèidh air ar tòir;’ (p. 121).

A number of the poems show the mood of optimism that eventually filtered through to the Highlands. Some of these relate to the Royal Commission which was established in 1883 to investigate the condition of the crofter and cottar population in the Highlands and Islands. Examples include [Fàilte a’ Choimisein] (p. 124), which begins ‘Ho-rò, cha bhi mulad oirnn, \ Tuilleadh cha bhi èis oirnn, \ Coimisean tighinn dhan dùthaich, \ An dùil gun dèan e feum dhuinn’; Teachdairean na Bànrighinn (pp. 126-27), which begins ‘O, seinnibh cliù nan Teachdairean \ On t-seachdamh là den mhìos sin; \ Ceud soraidh slàn thar chuantan leis \ A’ Chomann uasal rìoghail’; [Moladh Henry Seòras] (p. 128), which was composed after the meeting in Glasgow at which George proclaimed every man’s right to the land; and a number of poems composed around the time of the 1885 election, such as Bratach nan Croitearan (p. 132) Croitearan Leòdhais (pp. 134-37), and Do Dhòmhnall MacPhàrlain (pp. 143-44).

Some of the poems contain a number of references to specific people and places. For example, we find Fear an Earrachd, referring to Alan Cameron of Erracht (p. 50), an Ruidleach referring to Sir James Riddell (p. 59), Fear Nobhàr referring to Munro-Ferguson of Novar (p. 140), Baile nam Bàrd (p. 80) referring to the township of Balephuil in Tiree, and Posta na Seachdain referring to Glasgow Weekly Mail (p. 68).
Orthography The orthography is generally that of the late twentieth century. In Editorial Principles and Perspectives (pp. 41-46), the editor states that the orthography ‘follows that recommended by the S.C.E. Examination Board, with some modifications which I have deemed essential to avoid ambiguity and needlessly ugly neo-spellings’ (p. 46). He draws attention to his use of the apostrophe in the combination of ‘in’ with a possessive pronoun, as in ’na ‘in his/her’, thereby distinguishing it from na ‘the’.
Edition First edition. As explained above, many of the poems were originally published in contemporary newspapers, pre-eminently in The Oban Times. Other poems were only recorded during the second half of the twentieth century, and were often subsequently published or broadcast. Many have been published in other anthologies and collections, such as Oran do na Cìobairibh Gallda by Ailean Dùghallach (pp. 47-50), which was originally published in Ailean’s Orain, Marbhrannan agus Duanagan Gaidhealach (1829). Some of the poems have been published in more than one other volume, such as Dìreadh a-mach ri Beinn Shianta by An Lighiche Iain Mac Lachlainn (pp. 57-58), which was published in The Gaelic Songs of the Late Dr MacLachlan in 1880, and in An t-Oranaiche in 1879. These earlier sources should be used wherever possible, and this volume should only be used where no alternative exists.
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