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Metadata for text 121
No. words in text99614
Title Eachdraidh a’ Phrionnsa, no Bliadhna Thearlaich
Author Mac-Choinnich, Iain
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1844
Date Of Language 1800-1849
Publisher Thornton and Collie (Thornton agus Collie)
Place Published Edinburgh
Volume N/A
Location National and academic libraries
Link Digital version created by National Library of Scotland
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Wester Ross
Register Literature, Prose and Verse
Alternative Author Name John MacKenzie
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 16.5cm x 10.5cm
Short Title Eachdraidh a' Phrionnsa
Reference Details EUL: .9(4107)Mack
Number Of Pages 312
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context All the information and quotations in this section are from an article published in The Highland Echo on March 31st, 1877.

John MacKenzie was born in the parish of Gairloch on 17th July 1806. His father, Alexander (known locally as Alastair Og), ‘was tacksman of all the lands on the north side of Lochewe belonging to the lairds of Gairloch’. His mother, Margaret MacKenzie, was ‘daughter of the late Mr Mackenzie of Badachro, and grand-daughter of the late Rev. Mr Robertson, Lochbroom; by a daughter of Mackenzie, the proprietor of Letterewe’. Both of John MacKenzie’s parents were therefore of Gairloch stock. MacKenzie had always been interested in Gaelic and in Gaelic poetry, and while he was still young he developed a talent for making musical instruments. He made a fiddle and a set of bagpipes, both of which he played very well. He played a number of other instruments, including the flute, and he also ‘collected and wrote down several popular Highland airs, as yet unpublished, but of which the manuscript is still extant.’

With regard to Sar-Obair nam Bard Gaelach, MacKenzie’s best known work, the Echo reports that ‘It was while collecting the poems of William Ross that the idea first occurred to him of publishing this grand work, which he determined should contain the best specimens of all the best poetry extant in his native language, from Ossian down to his own time, with biographical notices of the Gaelic bards written in English.’ His first edition of William Ross’s poems was published in 1830 and a second edition was published in 1834. Sar-Obair (= Text 125 below) was around twelve years in the making, during which time MacKenzie travelled throughout the Highlands, collecting material for this volume and collecting subscriptions for this and for other publications. MacKenzie had begun working as a book-keeper in the printing office at Glasgow University in 1836, and he found that he was unable, ‘financially and otherwise’, to publish the collection himself. He eventually ‘disposed of the copyright, for a mere trifle, to Macgregor, Polson & Co., at that time publishers in Glasgow; at the same time he engaged to superintend the work while going through the press. This work required such attention and constant application that his constitution, never very robust, was thereby undermined to an extent from which it never recovered’.

‘The publication of “The Beauties” [i.e. Sar-Obair] and of “The History of Prince Charles” [i.e. Eachdraidh a’ Phrionnsa] secured John Mackenzie considerable fame in literary circles; and he soon after obtained an engagement from Messrs Maclachlan & Stewart, Edinburgh, at what would now be considered, even in a Celtic literary engagement, starvation wages, namely, one pound per week. While thus employed he produced work for which the Celtic admirers of John Bunyan, and other eminent English divines, give John Mackenzie but little credit. But this is probably because the mass of his countrymen are quite ignorant of what they owe to him. He translated into Gaelic, Baxter’s “Call to the Unconverted”; Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”; Bunyan’s “Come and Welcome”; his “World to Come”; his “Grace Abounding” … [Mackenzie’s] “Aosdána,” or a selection of the most popular Gaelic Jacobite songs, appeared in 1844. … Another collection of his is the “Cruiteara,” or Gaelic Melodists, being a collection of the most popular Highland love songs. He is also the author of the English-Gaelic part of the dictionary known as “MacAlpine’s.” He produced an en-larged edition of Duncan Ban Macintyre’s poems, and various other works. In all, he composed, edited, or translated above thirty different publications. His last completed work was “MacAlpine’s Dictionary,” but in 1847 he issued a prospectus for a new and greatly enlarged edition of “The Beauties,” which was to have been published by subscription by Maclachlan & Stewart, Edinburgh, and sold to subscribers at 10s. It was “to comprise the work of forty-six provincial bards, with an Appendix, containing a general collection of songs, original and select, composed by private gentlemen, who invoked the muse only on particular occasions, or under the impulse of strong feeling excited by extraordinary events.”’

More information about MacKenzie’s life and work can be found in two articles, published in An Gaidheal, in December 1934 and August 1948. John MacKenzie returned home in 1848, with his health failing. He died in August of that year, and was buried in the old cemetery at Gairloch (An Gaidheal, 1948).
Contents This volume contains prose and verse relating to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite Rising of 1745-76.

The dedication on p. v reads as follows: Tha’n Leabhar so air a chur a mach fo Thearmann an Uasail Oirdheirc, agus Ionnsaichte, Tearlach Imhear Stiubhart, &c. &c. fo iomadh comain An Ughdair, Iain Mac-Choinnich. There follows An Clar-Innseadh (pp. vii-viii). The main body of the text is presented in two sections as follows:

Eachdraidh a’ Phrionnsa, no Bliadhna Thearlaich (pp. 9-240): containing 32 chapters, beginning with Staid nan Gàël agus na Gaëldachd (pp. 9-17), and ending with Turas Thearlaich do Bhàideanach, &c. (pp. 233-40). The intervening chapters include Ullachadh an airm Dhéirg (pp. 35-36), Turas Iain Chope gu Tuath (pp. 37-39), Blàr Sliabh a’ Chlamhain (pp. 68-76), Glacadh Baile Charlisle (pp. 96-102), Ullachadh Ro’ Bhlàr na h-Eaglaise-Brice (pp. 120-24), Tighinn Dhiuc Uilleam do dh-Alba (pp. 133-37), Ioma-Ruagadh nan Ceann-Feadhna, &c. (pp. 169-74), and Allabhan Thearlaich ’san Eilean-Sgiathanach (pp. 196-213).

Cruinneachadh Taghte de dh-Òranan a rinneadh do’n Phrionnsa agus ’na Aobhar, le Ughdaran Eugsamhail (p. 241-311): comprising 17 songs, including Iain Mac Ailein’s Brosnachadh nam Fineachan Gàëlach (pp. 250-54), Iain Ruadh Stiùbhart’s Latha Chuil-Fhodair (pp. 261-64) and Oran Eile air Latha Chuil-Fhodair (pp. 265-69), An Aghaidh an Eididh Ghallda by Iain Mac Codruim (pp. 301-04), Oran na Briogsa by Donnchadh Bàn Mac an t-Saoir (pp. 305-08), and Marbh-Rann do Phrionnsa Tearlach by Uilleam Ros (pp. 309-11). There are a number of songs by Mac Mhaighstir Alastair, including Oran nam Fineachan Gaelach (pp. 245-50), Morag (pp. 275-80), and Am Breacan Uallach (pp. 295-99). Mackenzie prefaces this section with the following words of introduction: ‘Mheas mi iomchaidh na h-òranan a leannas a chur mar leasachadh ris an leabhar so chum an “Eachdraidh” a dheanamh cho iomlan sa’ b’urrainn mi. Tha iad a’ cur mòran soluis air cŏr agus dùrachd nan Gàël mu’n àm anns an d’éirich iad a mach a’ chur an aghaidhean ri cruadal “Bliadhna Thearlaich.”’ (p. 242).

At the end of this volume is a section of Errata (p. 312), listing 12 corrections.
Sources The prose parts of this text are based on standard historical sources for eighteenth-century Scottish history, with an admixture of information derived from orally-based Highland sources. A number of the poems in this volume had already appeared in 1841 in MacKenzie’s Sar-Obair (Text 125). A number also appeared subsequently in 1933 in J. L. Campbell’s Highland Songs of the Forty Five (Text 182). Many of the poems are also to be found in in earlier MS and printed sources. The earliest extant version of each poem should in general be used for excerpting.
Language This text is a useful source of terms relating to this period in Scottish history. It includes words and expressions descriptive of the politics of the time, the names of people and places that were prominent at the time, the conditions of the Highlanders at the time, and details of the battles that took place. MacKenzie’s writing is fluent, and his style owes a little to traditional Gaelic seanchas, in addition to awareness of English prose-writing norms.

The first chapter sets the scene, examining the state of the Highlands and the way of life of the Highlanders in the mid the 18th century: ‘Mu’n cheart àm anns an tainig am Prionnsa do dh’ Albainn bha na Gàëil gu ìre bhig na’n gnàths mar na prìomh aithrichean; gach fine nan treubhan air leth; agus gach ceann-cinnidh mar rìgh a riaghladh thar a luchd-leanmhuinn féin. Bha iad a’ beathathadh [sic, for beathachadh], mar bu tric, air sealg, agus fiadhach nam beann, tacar na fàirge, bliochd, agus buannachd eile na spréidhe maille ri beagan arain, oir cha robh am buntàta mu’n àm sin air sgaoileadh nam measg’ (p. 9).

This text contains terms and expressions relating to the politics of the time. For example, Chapter 4, Ullachadh an Airm Dheirg (pp. 35-36) begins: ‘Mu’n àm so bha Rìgh Seòras far’ bu chuimhe dha ’bhith, ann a’ Hanobhar tìr dhùchasach a shinnsir féin, agus bha cuid de Shasunnaich a cuir as a leth gu’n robh e n’a bu tlŭsmhoire ris an Rìoghachd sin, na bha e ri Breatuinn. Bha e mar gum biodh e caoin-shuarach ma déibhinn’ (p. 35). Chapter 12, Na Gaeil ann an Duneideann an deigh a’ Bhlair (pp. 77-80), includes the following statement: ‘Bho mhuinntir Ghlasacho, thog e 5500 Pund-Sasunnach—Ghlac e gach ionbhas a bh’ ann an taighean Cuspainn Lìbhte agus Bhorostoness agus gach àit’ eile mu’n cuairt, agus chaidh a reic air son airgeid ris na smugaileirean, bho ’n d’ rinn na gàidsearan agus luchd nan taighean Chuspainn a thabhairt’ (p. 80).

This text contains verbally rich descriptions of the battles, and of preparations for the battles, that took place in Bliadhna Thearlaich. For example, in Chapter 5, Turas Iain Chope gu Tuath (pp. 37-39), we are told: ‘Dh’fhalbh Iain Cope air a thuras do’n Taobh-tuath air an fhicheadamh latha de mhìos dheireannach an t-Sàmhraidh le ceithir cheud-diag fear-feachda, a fàgail an dà réiseamaid thrùpairean ann an Dunéideann, a thaobh is nach b’urrainn na h-eich triall thar mhonaidhean a’s bhealaichean. Thug a [sic] leis ceithir ghunnaidhean [sic] mòra, agus mìle mosg air son nan Gàël a bha e’n dùil a dh’éireadh leis mar bhiodh e dol air aghaidh.’ (p. 37). In Chapter 11, we find a vivid description of Blar Sliabh a Chlamhain: ‘’Nuair a thàinig iad an imisg dusan slat do’n arm-dhearg, leag gach fear urchair á ghunna agus thilg e bhuaidh i mar shlacan-ònaid gun mhath. Air ball bha ’claidheamh ann an deas-lamh gach laoich, targaid air a ghàirdean chlì agus biodag san dòrn. Mar so air àrmadh, thuit gach duin’ air a ghlùn toisgeal agus ’nuair ’ thainig na dearganaich orra le’n cuid béigeileidean … ghlac gach fearr [sic, for fear] a rinn air a thargaid agus ’le aon bhuille dheth na chlaidheamh-mhòr “bha 'n dearganach gu'n anail.” …’ (p. 71). In Chapter 21, Marsail nan Gael do’n Taobh-Tuath (pp. 138-43), we are told: ‘Fa-dheoigh, thàinig toiseach armailt a’ Mhorair ann an ionad urchair dhaibh, agus loisg an gobha an làn a bha na sheanna mhosg ghlagaich féin nan còdhail; agus air m’ aluinn [sic, for air m’anam?], ged a b’e urchair-theab a bha sin, cha b’ann ann ’san fhraoch a chaidh am peileir!’ (pp. 141-42).

In Chapter 14, Turas nan Gael do Shasuinn (pp. 88-95), MacKenzie gives us elaborate descriptions of the Highlanders’ outfits: ‘Bha na daoin’-uaisl’ air toiseach na Réiseamaidean, air an éideadh na’n làn-dheiseachan Gàëlach, sia slatan-diag breacain, eadar bhreacan-guaile ’s éileadh, (sin an t-uidheam ris an abradh na Gàëil bho shean, breacan an éilidh.) Bha bonaid beag gorm, biorach, orra mar cheann-aodach, cha robh ac’ air son phòcaidean ach na sporanan bruic. … an àite nam breacanan éilidh ’se bh’ air cuid aca feile-beag, no preasach, no ma[r] theireir [sic] ann an cuid de dh-àitean féile-cuaich: bha iad so air an armadh le “mosg mhòr a’ pheileir Shasunnaich,” …’ (p. 91).

This text is also a useful source for the names of people and places that played a prominent part in this period in Scottish history. Examples include: Iain Ruadh nan cath (p. 12), glossed as Diùc Earra-Ghàël an latha sin; ‘Bha’m Prionnsa fathast ann am Bòrghadal, agus fa-dheoigh thainig fios da ionnsaidh; nach faigheadh e, aon chuid, comhnadh bho Shir Alasdair Mac-Dhòmhnuill Sh[l]éibhte, no bho Mhac-Leòid Dhun-Bheagain, thiunndaidh a chùis a mach, dìreach mar thuirt Fear Bhaósdail ris air tùs a thachradh’ (p. 30); ‘Air an dara latha fichead rainig e Amul-Rìgh, agus Drochaid-Thatha air an treas latha fichead rainig e Tranphuir (i.e. Trinafour, Trian a’ Phùir), agus air a chùigeamh latha fichead Dail-na-Ceardaich’ (p.38); ‘Stad a’ mhòr-fheachd ma thra-nòine ann an Bog-an-t-sealgair, gleannan domhain fasgathach a tha eadar Cathair-Airt a’s Creaganan Shalus-bòrgh. An sin mharcaich am Prionns’ air aghaidh, le Diùc Pheairt air a dheis, agus Morair Elecho air a thoisgeal’ (p. 59), Beruig a Tuath (p. 63); Bĕr-Uig (p. 89); Marasgal Bhade (p. 89); Reiseamaid Mhainchester (p. 104); na Welsich (p. 110); Pröaist a’ bhaile (p. 119).

On p. 90, MacKenzie lists [na] Fineachan Gàëlach a dh’eirich a mach gu cogadh an aghaidh rìgh Seòras “Bliadhna Thearlaich”. They include Dòmhnullaich Mhùideart, led byTighearna Chinn-Loch Mùideart and Clann-Mhuirich Bhàideanach, led by Cluainidh Mac-a-Phearson. With regard to the Prince’s escape, in Chapter 27, Allabhan Thearlaich ’san Eilean-Fhada (pp. 175-88), we are told ‘Feadh sa’ dh-fhan Tearlach ann an Uidhist, bha baintighearna Shir Alasdair Mhic-Dhòmhnuill Shléibhte ’cuir phăipeirean-naigheachd da ionnsaidh anns am faigheadh e naigheachd na rìoghachd, ged’ a b’ ann air taobh an Diŭc’ a bha Sir Alasdair féin. Fa-dheoigh thainig an t-am anns an d’fhuair an t-arm-dearg brăth gu’n robh Tearlach anns an Eilean-fhada agus rùinich iad pairtidhean lionmhor sluaigh a chuir air tìr ann an iomadaich ăite de’n eilean, agus “gach cùil a’s ciall” a mhion rannsachadh a chum am fògarach rìoghail fhaotainn an làimh’ (p. 183).

There are informative glosses and footnotes throughout the text, together with anecdotes, verse quotations and sayings. For example, in the first chapter we are told ‘Ann sa bhliadhna 1645 chuir iad latha Chill-Saoidh an aghaidh Rìgh Shasuinn, ann an aobhar Sheumais an III. Rìgh Alba. Agus mu thuaiream leth-chiad bliadhn’ an deigh sin dh’ éirich iad le “Cleubhars uaibhreach nan each,” no mar their cuid eile “Tighearna Bhaile-nan-Seamrag,” ann an aobhar a mhic do’n ghoireadh iad féin am Prionns’ òg’ (p. 11). On p. 32, a footnote explains the meaning of Fionain in Gleann-Fionain: ‘B’ann ris au [sic] iolaire theireadh na seana Ghàeil am “Fionan” [fion-eun, no’n t-ian uasal] chaidh am facal a nis atharrachadh gu fìr-eun, is e uasal is ciall do ’n fhacal fion …’.

MacKenzie also quotes a number of first-hand accounts. For example, in Chapter 8, Dol a steach a’ Phrionnsa do Dhuneideann (pp. 58-6), we are given a wonderful description of the Prince, which begins: ‘Tha fear dheth na chunnaic Tearlach air an latha ud a’ toirt a’ chunntais so air a choltas:—“bha e fo ùr-bhlà òige, ard, foghainteach, ro chumadail, dealbhach, agus aogais mìleanta, farra-ghruag bhàn air a cheann air a cìreadh gu clannach, caisreagach, sìos gu shlinean …”’ (p. 59).

The poetry printed in the latter part of this volume covers the same period and themes as does the prose. A number of the poems appear in other texts, e.g. Text 110 and Text 125. Editors are advised to use the most authoritative, generally the earliest editions of these poems, as appropriate.
Orthography The orthography is basically that of the mid-nineteenth century, but this is sometimes obscured by Mackenzie’s use of older, literary forms (e.g. togbhail, p. 30) and his intermittent attempts to indicate pronunciation by using non-standard diacritics (e.g. Gàëil, p. 91; Bĕr-uig, p. 89). In the same way, Mackenzie’s Gaelic prose shows examples of both literary Gaelic prose-writing (e.g. mar dhèanadh siad iad fhéin a ghnàthachadh, p. 46) and a sprinkling of more colloquial forms deriving presumably from his own Wester Ross Gaelic usage (a chiad, iompaidh, tarruinn, ruidhinn (for ruighinn), all p. 31).
Edition First edition. A second edition was published in 1845, by the same publishers, which did not include any of the songs. A third edition was published in 1906, by A. Gardner, Paisley. As noted above, some of the poems in this volume had already been published in earlier sources.
Further Reading The Highland Echo. March 31st, 1877, p. 6. [A copy of this article has been pasted inside one of the copies of Sar-Obair in the Celtic Library at Edinburgh University.]
MacLeoid, Iain N., ‘Iain Mac Coinnich’, An Gaidheal, 30 (An Dùdlachd, 1934), 36-37.
‘Iain MacCoinnich, Clach air a Chàrn’, An Gaidheal, 43 (An Lùnasdal, 1948), 126-28.
Gillies, William, ‘“Merely a Bard”? William Ross and Gaelic poetry’, Aiste, 1 (2007), 123-69.
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