Taigh Gàidhealach / House and Furnishings

Informant Origin
Eileanaich [natives of Lewis]
Leodhas, Carlobhadh [Lewis, Carloway]
  • [NOTES: the informants use adjectives ‘beag’, ‘mór’ and ‘math’ to show the gender of the nouns. In this file they have been replaced with ‘masc.’ and ‘fem.’.]
1. An stéidh is am balla
am bala stighthe inner wall.
am bala muighthe outer wall.
an glutadh[masc.] the earthen filling in between the inner and outer walls.
an glutranadh  (Berneray)[See an glutadh]
barr a’ bhala[masc.] the top of the wall(s) on which the beams were set.
an tobhta[fem.] [See barr a’ bhala] ‘Tobhta’ also means a ruin in Lewis.
2. Am mullach ’s an tughadh
an gad-droma[masc.] the top beam to which the joists were fixed.
cas-a-ceanghail[fem.] one of the sloping roof joists.
ceanghal[masc.] a pair of sloping roof joists meeting at the ‘gad-droma’ [q.v.]. The size or length of a house was given by the number of ‘ceanghail’. Thus – Tigh och [sic] ceanghail or Tigh mór nan deich ceanghail.
na taobhain,[sg.] taobhan [masc.] the laths nailed across the ‘casan ceanghail’ [q.v.] to support the thatch.
na sgrathan,[sg.] sgrath [fem.] the large flat slating divots were placed over the ‘taobhain’ [q.v.].
tughadh[masc.] the thatch – could be: Tughadh connlaich no Tughadh fraoich no Tughadh de bhunan eòrna. Bhathar a’ buain no a’ spionadh an eòrna leis a bhun dubh agus ’ga cheanghail. ’Nuair a bha e tioram bhathar a’ sgathadh gach sguaib le coran [sic] mór a dh’aon ghnothaich air son so fhéin – ris an cainte corran sgathaidh. Bha na bunan so air am meas nan tughadh air leth dionach.
sioman[masc.] the binding rope. The thatch was held down with ‘sioman fraoich’ no ‘sioman murain’ or latterly by coir rope still called in Lewis ‘sioman Thearlaich’ after the merchant who introduced it into the island.
spàrrspar or rafter. There was the expression ‘luath mu spàrr’, e.g. Cha chuir e sud luath mu spàrr. – He will not cause any great stir or commotion.
fuaraichdrops of rain dripping through the thatch.
cailleachan suithhanging strands of sooty substance formed high up on the ‘slabhraidh’.
guala smudge on the hands or face (not of coal as coal had never been in use of old in Point, Lewis). Anyone having a smudge on the face and not knowing of it would be told: “Cuir do làmh far am beil an gual ort agus gheibh thu do roghainn”. ‘Gual’ is also the black formed on the outside of pots and pans exposed to an open flame. Still also ‘gual’ was the name for cold peat embers. Sgùradh le gual – before the advent of abrasive cleansers, a damp cloth dipped in a very finely crushed cold peat ember would be used on metal in place of sand paper or emery paper. And ‘gual’ for something burnt to a cinder – “Chaidh e ’na ghual dubh.”
3. Dorsan is uinneagan
an starsach[fem.] the threshold.
an t-ard dhorus[masc.] the door lintel.
an ursainn[fem.] the door post.
a’ chomhla[fem.] the actual door.
na banntaichean,[sg.] bannta [masc.] the hinges.
a’ ghlas[fem.] the lock.
an claimheanthe bolt.
sneica hasp.
an dorus mórthe main door as opposed to the back door which led into the barn and was called ‘dorus an t-sabhail’.
[dorus an t-sabhail]the back door which led into the barn.
dorus an tallainthe door leading into the living room.
dorus a’ chulaistthe door leading from the living room to the sleeping apartment.
uinneag an teinethe living room window.
uinneag a’ chulaistthe bedroom window.
uinneag an t-sobhailthe barn window.
lòsana pane of glass.
4. An broinn an taighe: na sèamraichean
cùl an tallain(behind the partition) The area into which one entered by the front door – the equivalent of the hall in the more modern houses.
aig an teineI think the living room was always referred to like this.
cùlaist[fem.] a bedroom latterly. Earlier it was a closet or windowless room – requiring to be lit.
cùil mhònacha peat-closet.
cùil liona closet for nets.
an airidhI am not sure what or where this was. I heard this expression ‘Shuas air an airidh’. Could have been a boarding or platform among the rafters. [NOTES: the following comment added later at the bottom of the page.] Have discovered that the ‘airidh’ was not part of the dwelling house – it was a broad shelf or suspended loft in the barn.
5. An t-àite-teine
cladach-an-teinenot clear what was meant by this unless it was directly in front of the fire.
cagailt[fem.] the hearth.
branndair[masc.] the bars of the grating on which the fire rested.
slabhraidh[fem.] the hanging chain above the fire on which pots were suspended. I think it was also the name for the elongated iron hook at the end of the chain.
cran[masc.] may have been ‘crann’ but it was always pronounced like an English word. It was an iron bar across the chimney from which hooks (as above [meaning slabhraidh]) were suspended – if there was no ‘slabhraidh’ [q.v.].
clobha[masc.] tongs.
spòg a’ chlobhaa leg of the tongs.
bòcaira pair of bellows.
luath[fem.] ashes.
griosach[fem.] red hot ashes.
gallag[fem.] the bright red core of the fire.
bràthadair[masc.] a roaring fire.
braidseala roaring fire.
bìugan[masc.] a small flickering fire. Also applied to a poor light from the lamp.
6. Airneis an taighe
angar bùrn[masc.] the water cask. Water was always ‘bùrn’ in the Point district of Lewis.
prais[fem.] a three legged pot.
bord praisea wooden lid for the pot.
sieaghag[sic] a wooden spurtle.
liagh[fem.] a ladle.
leabaidh ardbox bed.
bord-slios na leapathe front or side of the bed facing out into the room.
pàma[masc.] the brightly coloured frill or valance round the bed.
séisa long bench along the wall.
being[fem.] a long bench along the wall.
stòl móra long stool that would seat two [?] people.
stòl beaga small stool (a single seater).
cùrtaireanthe window curtains.
ciste mhinemeal chest.
ciste phlaideachanblanket chest.
bord tuarnairthe dining table – joiner-made with turned legs and drawer – as opposed to the home-made work table. I think I also heard ‘leabaidh tuarnair’.
dreasair[masc.] dresser.
bòrd an dreasairthe top or work surface of the dresser.
bonn an dreasairthe bottom or cupboard part of the dresser.
clar-fuinnebaking board.
greidealbaking girdle [sic].
corcaa big knife or bread knife.
sioltachana sieve.
siliogan[masc.] a small cream jug with a spout.
cuach[fem.] a big bowl or tureen.
pùlais[masc.] detachable hanging handle for the ‘prais’ or three legged pot.
cluaisean[masc.] the ‘ear’ on opposite sides of the ‘prais’ [q.v.] into which the ‘pulais’ [q.v.] was fitted.
gucag uigheegg cup.
truinnsear domhain[masc.] a soup plate.
truinnsear staoina meat plate – any shallow plate.
sgian lùthaidha man’s pocket knife.
measair[fem.] a small wooden tub used for animal feeding.
maodar[masc.] [See measair]
seotal[masc.] a small compartment in the ‘ciste’ or chest where money and other valuables were kept.
baustair[masc.] a mattress.
lambaa lamp.
sifeaca wick for the above [i.e. lamba (q.v.)].
lamba bheaga small lamp with a handle for taking from room to room.
fleòdarthis was the old name in Point, Lewis for tin. A tin pail or basin used for milk would be ‘peile fleòdair’ and ‘mios fleòdair’. (Is it conceivable that at one time they had pewter utensils?) I do not hear the word now – if there are any tin pails, etc. – it is ‘peile tiona’, ‘mios tiona’.
imiolaidthis was a special lid for the milking pail when it had to be carried some distance – as from the sheiling. It was of cured hide, ‘made to measure’ or fitted to cover the top of the pail and come a little way down the sides.
7. Sobhal, bàthach, no bothanan sam bith eile
bàthachbyre. [NOTES: it is not clear if the adjective ‘mhór’ added in brackets between ‘bàthach’ and ‘boghal’ refers to the former or the latter.]
boghalthe cow’s bed or stall in the byre.
painnsear(in Point, Lewis) manger.
fasglana little ‘bothag’ built on to the front of the house and just missing the front door – possibly a shelter for the front door.
bothag nan cearchen house.
bothag nan uanthe little thatched bothy where the lambs were fed and wintered.
dileadha drain leading out from the byre (I think).
stiallthe short tether by which the cow was secured in the stall.
feistthe long tether outside.
bacanthe tether stake.
scalpanoat chaff. (Point, Lewis)
moll[masc.] barley chaff.
rulladhseparating the barley grain from the chaff – an operation quite different from that of winnowing oats as barley chaff is heavier and does not so readily ‘go with the wind’.
criathar[masc.] the sieve, or riddle, used in the above process [i.e. rulladh (q.v.)] – made of perforated sheep hide stretched over a round wooden frame.
siolmholbarley chaff which was not free of grain and could be used for cattle feeding.
dias[fem.] as well as meaning an ear of corn, this also meant a fleck of barley chaff. Most irritating to the skin if a ‘dias’ adhered to one’s clothing. ‘Tha dias air mo dhruim’ could be awful. ‘Tha dias ’nam amhaich’ – worse!
suathadh an eòrnagetting the barley grain off the stem by working the tops of the sheaves between the feet – wearing special boots the while.
calg[fem.] the same as ‘dias’ (above) [q.v.] in its irritating prickly sense.
a’ deanamh sobhailthis meant the winter’s work in the barn – preparing the barley and oats for milling.
spoth an t-sìlshaking out from among the straw refuse any good grain that had become mixed up in it.

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