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Title Orain ann sa Ghailig le Donnchadh Mac Coinnich, “Bard Cheann-loch-iugh”; air an sgriobhadh sios o’ aithris beoil a bhaird fein, agus air an cur an ordugh, le roi’-radh ann am Beurla, le Alastair Mac Coinnich… (Songs and Poems in the Gaelic Language…)
Author MacKenzie, Duncan
Editor MacKenzie, Alexander
Date Of Edition 1875
Date Of Language 1850-1899
Publisher Uilleam B. & E. Forsyth for Duncan MacKenzie
Place Published Inverness
Volume N/A
Location National and academic libraries
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Wester Ross
Register Literature, Verse
Alternative Author Name Donnchadh Mac Coinnich
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 17.8cm x 12cm
Short Title Orain ann sa Ghailig
Reference Details NLS: 5.792(66)
Number Of Pages 36
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context The Introduction notes that at the time of publication, Duncan MacKenzie was around forty years old. He had composed many pieces by then, ‘many of which he has now forgotten, but which are known in his native parish’. MacKenzie began composing when he was very young (around eleven or twelve years of age), and it was the first poem presented in this collection, composed when the poet was just fifteen, that brought him to the attention of his friends and neighbours as a promising young poet.

MacKenzie did not go to school, and it was not until he had reached manhood that he learned to read in his native language. MacKenzie was also known as the best weaver in the area, and although he received no training himself in the art, he earned a reputation as an excellent trainer of apprentices. He was also a good shoemaker, mason, and carpenter.
Contents This volume begins with an Introduction (p. 3) by Alexander MacKenzie, Secretary to the Gaelic Society of Inverness.

The main body of the text contains twelve poems as follows: Oran Eadar Am Bard Agus Fionnla Liath (pp. 5-9), Oran Don Ghailig (pp. 9-12), Oran Mairidh Dhubh (pp. 12-15), Aoir Mhicleoid (p. 15-17), Oran Da Shir Coinneach Ghearrloch An Oidhche A Phos E (pp. 18-19), Oran Na Bricè (pp. 19-21), Oran Cailleach Uilleam (pp. 22-24), Di-Moladh Mhic-Il-Aindreas (pp. 25-29), Moladh Cheann-Loch-Iugh (pp. 29-31), Oran Challum Phiobairè (pp. 31-32), Oran Eadar Am Bard Agus Mairidh Nic Bheathain ’S I Air Gradh Ris Gu Robh Na Baird Uile Caillte (pp. 32-34), Oran Da Shaor-Thoil-Shaighdearan Ghearrloch (pp. 34-36). Many of the poems have short introductions.
Sources The title pages (both Gaelic and English) inform us that these poems were ‘written verbatim from the bard’s own recitation, and edited, with an introduction in English, by Alexander MacKenzie, Secretary to the Gaelic Society of Inverness’. Alexander MacKenzie also notes in his Introduction, that they were taken down ‘in the dialect of his native district’ (p. 3).
Language All but one of MacKenzie’s poems fall under the headings of praise, satire, and poems of a more light-hearted nature.

Most of the poems in this volume are of the light-hearted sort, and are centred around local people and events. Oran Eadar Am Bard Agus Fionnla Liath (pp. 5-9), was composed after MacKenzie had a conversation with a woman (Fionnla) who thought that the poet was interested in her daughter Ceat. The poem discusses Ceat’s achievements in school and the lack of ability shown by her brother, Fearchair. However, when it turns out that the poet is not interested in Ceat after all, her mother becomes less and less courteous to the bard.

Oran Eadar Am Bard Agus Mairidh Nic Bhethain [sic] ’S I Air Gradh Ris Gu Robh Na Baird Uile Caillte (pp. 32-34) is also written as a conversation between the poet and a woman, this time on the subject of the Gaelic bards. Again, the conversation becomes less polite towards the end of the poem with the poet and Mairidh taking turns to criticize each other’s temperaments and beliefs.

Oran Mairidh Dhubh (pp. 12-15) tells the story of a woman whose daughter was about to marry. Shortly before the wedding, ‘Thug Mairidh a monadh oirre, ’s cha robh tigh cibair feadh nan gleann nach d-fhalbh i, a deanamh cruinneachdainn air son na bainnse’ (p. 12). By the time she was ready to come home, she could hardly walk with all the food she had collected. When Ruairidh came to help her, he too struggled under the weight: ‘Cha da chuir e dheth an t-eallach \ Gus na stad e aig an tigh, \ ’S mor a feum a bh’ aig air anail, \ Fhuair e tathann leis an teas’ (p. 14).

Oran Cailleach Uilleam (pp. 22-24) was written on the occasion of Coinneach MacCoinnich’s marriage to Cailleach Uilleam’s daughter, Ceat. Coinneach’s friends did not approve of the match, and the Cailleach, Seonaid, was always being teased for being a witch. The song describes the wedding day, and suggests towards the end that Coinneach was pulled in to the marriage by witchcraft: ‘’S e mathair Ceat Uilleam bha lamhach, \ Nuair chaidh i ’n riochd gearr feadh na dùthch’. \ Bha im aic’ a thoradh a Bhraighè, \ ’S bha ’n caisè bho mhnai Leitir-iugh; \ Bha ’m bainne cho tiugh ris a bhar aic’, \ (’Us maoidhè dubh lan ann an cuil), \ Dha bhleothan a duthan na slabhraídh, \ ’Si ’g-aithris na rann a bh-aig Fionn’ (p. 23).

This volume contains two satires, Aoir Mhicleoid (p. 15-17) and Di-Moladh Mhic-Il-Aindreas (pp. 25-29), both of which address the clearances which were taking place in the area at the time. The first is addressed to ‘Droch shiamarlan a bha air oighreachd Ghearrloch mas d-fhuair Sir Coinneach i’ (p. 15). One day, when MacKenzie was out of the house, MacLeod arrived and threatened MacKenzie’s sick and elderly father, telling him that he would be made to leave his home. When MacLeod saw MacKenzie arriving, he ran off. MacKenzie then composed this satire, which was later recited to MacLeod. On hearing the poem, it is said that MacLeod did not live to see the next morning, but was found dead in his bed the next day. In the poem, MacKenzie describes the type of man MacLeod is, before launching into what he himself would like to do to him: ‘’S iomadh banntrach bhochd fhann, rinn thu eigneachadh teann, \ ’S tu g’an damnadh le cainnt uamhasach, \ Agus dilleachdan lom, rinn thu sharachadh trom, \ Cha robh truas na do chom, riamh riu’ (p. 17) and ‘’S na faighinn dhomh fhein athchuimhnich reidh, \ Thigeadh an t-eug iasgaidh ort, \ Dha d’ sgathadh le geur-chlaidheamh nach geill, \ A ghreasadh gu pein siorruidh thu’ (p. 17).

Di-Moladh Mhic-Il-Aindreas is written in a similar vein, but is more specific about the atrocities carried out by the local chamberlain: ‘Gheibh e breitheanas dùbailt, \ Air son na Rósaich a sgiursadh, \ A Gleann-a-Chalbhaidh le dhurachd, \ Na daoine ionraic gun lochd; \ Bha riamh onarach, sumhail’ (p. 27) and ‘Bu truagh, cianail, a dh-fhag e, \ Gleann-a-Chalbhaidh na fhasach, \ An sluagh sgaipte anns gach àite \ Gun cheò, gun larach, gun tigh’ (p. 27). The subject of the satire is called, in turn, am buamasdair grannda (p. 27), an trustar (p 28), and am balgair’ (p. 28).

This volume also contains a number of praise poems. In Oran Da Shir Coinneach Ghearrloch An Oidhche A Phos E (pp. 18-19), MacKenzie praises the newly wed couple: ‘Nighean tighearn Ilè tha cinnteach ro uasal \ Cho fad sa theid firinn a sgriobhadh man cuairt dì, \ Eireachdail, fìnealta, direach, ro-stuama, \ Ailleagan priseil, bho shin i air gluasad’ (p. 18) and ‘Tha cliu air na gaisgich dha’m b-aitreabh an tigh Digè, \ ’S priseil an eachdraidh th’air cleachdadh na sinnsear, \ Bu mhoralach, maiseach, an curaidh Sir Eachainn; \ Bha eis’neachd aig fhacal am Bailè na rioghachd’ (p. 18).

In Moladh Cheann-Loch-Iugh (pp. 29-31), a nature poem, the author sings the praises of the area, including the people that live there: ‘Tir nan ian, na’m fiadh, ’s na frithean, \ ’S na strath iosal, sios dha’n sior chur, \ Cruinn, ’us gearanan, nach diobair, \ Tarruing direach nan sgriob fada’ (pp. 29-30) followed by ‘An tir thioral, ghrianach, ghrideil. \ Lubach, lointeach, mhointeach, fhraochach, \ Luma-lan crodh-dair, ’us caoirich, \ Coin ’us daoin’ air taobh gach bealach’ (p. 30).

The poet praises his brother’s piping skills in the light-hearted song Oran Challum Phiobairè (pp. 31-32), and in Oran Don Ghailig (pp. 9-12) he praises the virtues of the Gaelic language.

Oran Da Shaor-Thoil-Shaighdearan Ghearrloch (pp. 34-36) was written in praise of the Gairloch volunteers: ‘Sud na fir a tha neo-chearbach, \ Le feileadh, ’us seacaidan dearga, \ Cabar-feidh air bucaill airgiod, \ ’S bonaid ghorm Ghlinngarraidh orr’.’ (p. 35). The last five stanzas praise particular people, e.g. ‘Murchadh Friseil a’n Strath Ghearrloch, \ Saor as fhearr a chumas bata \ ’S tapaidh ’n searsan am measg chaich è, \ ’S cairdeach da Mhac-Shimidh è’ (p. 36).

Oran Na Bricè (pp. 19-21) was written after the poet recovered from the small-pox which almost killed him. In the song, he compares the illness to a woman, and describes the various ailments which he suffered: ‘Thug i lamh air ma sgornan, \ Gu ma thachdadh le h-ordaig, \ Dhinn i m-amhaich le crogan, \ ’S thug i scrob air ma cheann, \ Chuir i bothlaich na m’ eanchail’ (p. 20) and ‘Rinn i m-aodan cho greannach, \ Lan thuill, agus lagan, \ ’S thug i ’n lus as mo chasan, \ ’S dh-fhag i lag mi gun treoir’ (p. 21).
Orthography Given the editor’s unequivocal statement that the poems were taken down as recited by the author, in his own dialect, the following linguistic forms are of interest: eanchail (p. 7), dosachdainn (p. 7), C’ait am faicé tu (p. 7), the frequent use of Dar a rather than Nuair a, e.g. (p. 15), the frequent use of fuidh (e.g. p. 24), and na h-orrachan (p. 24).

In general, the orthography is typical of the late 19th century. Both accents are used. One noteworthy departure from normal practices is the extensive use of acute and grave accents on a final e, e.g. An ceann urad na straidè (p. 6) and Bha thu mealladh a phaisdé (p. 8). This is clearly intended to indicate that a final open syllable is to be pronounced, whereas the author’s spoken dialect would usually have elided a final /ǝ/.
Edition First edition. The Introduction notes that ‘A further instalment of the Poems will be published during the winter’. No further instalments were published.
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