Gàidhlig / English
Seanfhaclan na Fèinne (Pàirt 1)

Seanfhaclan na Fèinne (Pàirt 1)

Posted by Calum on 22nd July, 2021
We have written many a blog about the Fingalians, or “An Fhinn,” but we have a tremendous amount of proverbs about the Fingalians in Scotland, Ireland and Man. This is clear in the phrase we have in "Fieldwork," “Mun robh Pàp anns an Ròimh, gun robh Fianntaichean làidir an Cinn-tàile nam bò” (“Before the Pope was in Rome the Fingalians were strong in Kintail of the cows,”) showing just how old the Fingalian folklore is to us. Therefore there must be loads of folklore and proverbs about them.

The phrases “Cho fada sa cheann ’s a bha Fionn na chasan” (“As long in his head as Fionn was in his legs”) said to some one that is either clever or stubborn, agus “Thuit trì le Bran air a h-aon” (“Bran fell three in the stead of one”) for Bran’s, Fionn’s dog, adeptness because he was the best dog the Fingalians ever had.

The proverbs here are connected to the Fingalians, Fenians and the Clans of Scotland (the Children of the Fèinne):
  • “Clanna nan Gàidheal ann guaillinn a chèile.” (“The Gaelic clans at each others shoulders.”)
  • “Cha b’ ionann Ó Briain is na Gàidheil.” (“O’Brian and the Gael were unalike”) – Although the the two used to be the same they are no longer the same anymore: the clans have changed from what they used to be.
  • “Cha d’ fhuair Conan riamh dòrn gun dòrn a thoirt gu cheann.” (“Conan never got cuff without giving cuff back.”)
  • “Càirdeas Chonain ris na Deamhanaibh.” (“Conan’s friendship to the demons”) – The proverb here is connected with the other two following.
  • “Beatha Chonain am measg nan Deamhan, mas olc dha chan fheàirrde dhaibh.” (“Conan’s life amongst the demons. If bad for him no better for them.”) – This is said about the time after the Fenians, where the Fenians were said to be in Hell because they were not Christians and Conan was somewhat more despicable beforehand. Therefore the Demons were no better with Conan in Hell with them!
  • “Is olc do bheatha, Chonain.” (“Bad is thy being, Conan”) – To be amongst the Demons!
  • “Ged faisg clach do làr is fhaisge na sin cobhair Choibhidh.” (“Though close to the earth is is stone, closer than that is Coivi’s aid.”)
  • “Cho teòma ri Coibhi Druidh.” (“As clever as Coivi Druid.”)
  • “Deiseil air gach nì.” (“Ready for anything.”)– The nature and the carrying of the Fenians themselves. The proverb can be used for the practice  that one should do everything clockwise, instead of anti-clockwise.
  • “Cha d’ chuir Fionn riamh blàr gun chumhachd/chumha.” (“Fionn never joined a fight withought might/lamenting.”)
  • “Cha do thrèig Fionn riamh caraid a làimh dheis.” (“Fionn never forsook his right hand.”)
  • “Cho comasach làmh ri Conlach.” (“As powerful-handed as Conloch.”)
  • “Cho làidir ri Cù Chulainn.” (“As strong as Cuchulainn.”)
  • “Cothrom na Fèinne.” (“The Fenian’s oppourtunity.”)– This is the proverb for being fair.
  • “Mur e Bran, is e Bhrathair.” (“If not Bran his brother.”) – At the downfall of the Fingalians, when the Fingalians came to and end, the Fingalians were destroying one another until there wouldn’t be anyone left, therefore if Bran (Fionn’s Dog) wasn’t the one left then his brother would have been left alive.
  • “Mar bha Oisean an dèidh na Fiannaibh.” (“As Oscar was after the Finns.”) – Ossian was entirely destraught after the Fenians. This is said for a person that is a loner, destraught and sad amongst other people in this day and age.
  • “Chan fhiach sgeul gun urrainn.” (“A tale without warrant is worthless.”) – Is there a story that you didn’t want to hear that was any good? I don’t believe so. The proverb here is connected with “Mas breug uam e is breug thugam e” (“If it is a lie to me, then it is a lie from me.”)
  • “An Lon dubh, an lon dubh spàgach! Thug mise dha 'choille fhasgadh fheurach; ’s thug esan domhsa am monadh, dubh fasaich.” (“The black elk, the shambling, black elk, I gave him the sheltered, grassy wood, and he gave me the black, desert mountain.”) – This proverb is somewhat peculiar, apparently, this phrase was said about the Vikings and the Romans and the Gaels themselves in this day and age, cleared from the “old country.”
  • “Is fhad an èigh gu Loch Obha, is cobhair o Chlann Ò Duibhne.” (“It is a far cry to Lochawe, and aid from the clan of O’Duibhne.”) – This is the battle-cry or slogan of Clan Campbell. It is said that Clan Campbell came from Diarmad Ó Duibhne. Therefore, in the modern day, this proverb is said about the Fingalians and the Clans that are far away, lost and foreign from their culture, heritage and their land.
We shall continue next month with more proverbs. Do you recognise any of the proverbs above? Let us know on facebooktwitter and our own website!
Your comment has been submitted for moderation
There are no comments for this post