Reference Number133002
TitleAn Teachdaire Gaelach
EditorMacLeod, Rev. Dr Norman
Date Of Edition1829-1831
Date Of Languageearly to mid 19c
Date Of Language Ed1800-1849
DateMacroEarly 19th c.
Date Of Language Notes
PublisherW. R. M‘Phun (Glasgow); W. Blackwood, and MacLachlan & Stewart (Edinburgh)
Place PublishedGlasgow and Edinburgh
VolumeVol. 2 of 2 (Bound together in the NLS copy consulted)
LocationNational Library of Scotland
Geographical OriginsVarious
Geographical Origins EdVarious
Geographical Origins Notes
RegisterLiterature, Prose (mainly) and Verse
Register EdLiterature, Prose and Verse
GenreLiterature and Information
MediumProse & Verse
RatingB/D (see below)
Monthly periodical which ran from May 1829 to May 1831, and which contained a variety of stories, articles, and verse.
This is the most important of the nineteenth century periodicals, and it set the standard for many later publications. It dealt with new and modern topics in Gaelic, introducing new terminology, and widening the range of written Gaelic.
Subject-matter of articles includes contemporary technology, world geography, and Scottish history.
Some articles give advice and information on various subjects including crofting, fishing, and health.
There are some religious articles and articles relating to superstition and to the otherworld.
There are some articles about the Gaelic language.
There are a number of stories, some of which have strong religious overtones.
Contains some poems and hymns.
Alternative Author NameAn t-Urr. Tormod MacLeoid
Manuscript Or EditionEd.
Size And Condition21.5cm x 13.5cm
Short TitleAn Teachdaire Gaelach
Reference DetailsNLS: Cam.1.d.17 (Vols. I and II are bound in the same volume)
Number Of Pages288 (Vol. I), 281 (Vol. II). Pages are numbered consecutively within each volume. Note that Vol. I, p. 168, at the end of Aireamh VII, is followed by p. 157 at the beginning of Aireamh VIII. As a result, Vol. I, pp. 157-68, occur twice. Each issue contains around 24 pages.
Gaelic Text ByN/A
Social ContextNorman MacLeod was born on 2nd December 1783 in the Manse at Morven, in Argyllshire. His father ministered to around 2000 people in his parish, which was spread out over around 130 square miles. Although his father’s income was low, the glebe and farm were good and were given at a low rate of rent by the Duke of Argyll. MacLeod’s family was close, and his son records that ‘The family in Morven manse thus breathed an atmosphere of constant affection, and of genial, cheerful piety. While prayer and praise were never forgotten, the dance and the song were not uncommon; for the minister was a fair performer on the violin, and delighted in the innocent amusement of his children’ (p. xii). MacLeod, in turn, created a good home atmosphere for his own family. As a youth, MacLeod was ‘an ardent sportsman and also an enthusiastic boatman’ (p. xiii), and his son reports that when he was old enough to volunteer, ‘he entered the ranks, and rose, I believe, to be a corporal!’ (p. xii). His father was also ‘an admirable classical scholar, and, along with such tutors as he could command, prepared his sons for college’ (p. xiii).

MacLeod studied at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, and in 1806, at the age of 23, ‘he was licensed by the Presbytery of Mull to preach the gospel, and delivered his first sermon in the church of Kilmore, in Mull. In the same year he was appointed assistant in the parish of Kilbrandon’ (p. ix). While serving in Kilbrandon he lodged with his cousin, Dr. Campbell of Kilninver. In 1808, MacLeod was offered the position of minister of Campbeltown in Kintyre. MacLeod refused, not believing himself capable of following in the footsteps of Dr. Smith. His refusal was not accepted, however, and he eventually took up the position. All was well, however, as he himself reported: ‘I knew that I had all the people upon my side, and from none of them did I meet with greater sympathy than from the dissenters, the members of the Relief congregation. With the ministers, elders, and members of this most numerous and respectable body, I lived on terms of the greatest intimacy and friendship until the time of my removal from the parish’ (pp. xvi-xvii). MacLeod remained in Campbeltown for 17 years. In 1811, MacLeod married Agnes Maxwell, the eldest daughter of the chamberlain of the Duke of Argyll. Together they had four daughters and five sons, two of whom became ministers.

In 1824, MacLeod was awarded the degree of D.D. from Edinburgh University, and in 1825 he was offered the position of minister in Campsie, Stirlingshire, where he was very well received. Although sad to leave Campbeltown, his son indicates that ‘a rising family with increasing expenses and a miserable living’ (p. xxvii) encouraged the move. Although Campsie was a Lowland parish, there were a number of Highlanders living there, and MacLeod held Gaelic services for them as often as he could. While in Campsie, however, one of MacLeod’s sons died at the age of seventeen, and MacLeod’s mother also died suddenly at the house. The first cholera outbreak in the area also occurred during this time, which greatly unsettled the people.

Regarding his writing, the memoir continues: ‘It was also during this period of his ministry that he engaged in those literary labours on behalf of his countrymen, some of which are published in this volume. The first which he undertook was the Gaelic “Collection,” for the use of Highland schools. … Then followed the “Mountain Sketch-book,” and those Gaelic monthly periodicals, which mark a new and important era in modern Celtic literature. There was “The Gaelic Messenger” (Teachdaire Gaelach), begun in 1830, which was continued for two years; followed in 1840 by “The Traveller of the Glens” (Cuairtear nan Gleann), which lasted three years. A third, “The Mountain Visitor,” was undertaken in 1848 by his son-in-law, the Rev. Archd. Clerk, now minister of Kilmallie, to which my father contributed several articles’ (p. xxix). These publications included not only original Gaelic writings, but also works translated from English, such as ‘John Gilpin’ and ‘Ode to the Cuckoo’.

MacLeod was assisted by many friends during these ventures, including his own brother, who was the minister of Morven at the time. As to the content of MacLeod’s writings, his son quotes from a letter which reads: ‘The matter given in the ‘Messenger’ may be arranged under three heads viz., the Serious, the Instructive, and the Amusing. Under the head of Amusing, I include those inimitable dialogues on popular subjects, which convulsed with laughter so many fireside circles, and which are so truly characteristic of Highland customs and manners, and through which so much useful information has been conveyed. … Dr. Macleod may also be looked upon as the connecting link between the oral and the written literature of the Celt. … But while Dr. Macleod has used his pen to preserve what was really worth preserving, yet no one has done more by his teaching—witness, for example, his tale of Coire-na-sithe—to explode the belief in witchcraft and ghost stories’ (p. xxxii-xxxiii). In 1831, in collaboration with Rev. Dr Daniel Stewart, MacLeod published a Gaelic dictionary, ‘his object being to afford facilities to the Highland youths when leaving school to acquire a better knowledge of the English language’ (p. xxxiii). MacLeod had a keen interest in education, and while in Campbeltown had secured a sum of £3300 towards the education of Highlanders. He also published a metrical version of the Psalms of David, after a trip to Ireland, for the use of the Irish Established Church.

In 1836, MacLeod was ‘elected to the Gaelic congregation in Glasgow, formerly called the Ingram Street Church, from its place of meeting, and latterly St. Columba’s Church’ (p. x). He had previously assisted the minister there, Mr. Maclaren, at Communions, and on Maclaren’s death, was called upon to take his place. In that same year, he became Moderator of the General Assembly. His time in Glasgow was eventful, as it saw the beginning and end of the Disruption. According to his son, ‘While holding decided and consistent views in State and Church politics, being from his very nature a conservative in both, yet he was essentially “moderate,” in the best sense of the word. He never was bitter in his opposition—never personal in his animosities—never advocated extreme measures, but such as might reconcile rather than divide parties. He was too sympathetic to be a violent partizan’ (p. xxxvi). During this time, MacLeod was also involved in filling the positions in a large number of vacant parishes in the Highlands. Also around this time, he published ‘a most effective dialogue in Gaelic on the Church question, which, to say the least of it, must have convinced even opponents, who were able and willing to read it, that there was another side of the question’ (p. xxxviii). The dialogue (entitled Comhradh mu Chor na h-Eaglaise) is not published in this volume.

When the potato crops failed in the Highlands, in 1836-37 and 1846-47, MacLeod was involved in raising money to aid those in need. In 1847, he and two others were sent to the Islands ‘with regard to the spiritual state of these districts, consequent on the secession of 1843’ (p. xl). A report was prepared, but no action was taken by the Assembly. As minister of St. Columba’s, MacLeod oversaw the erection of a new church, and he obtained ‘a special clause in an Act of Parliament, giving churches in cities, erected for the benefit of Highlanders, legal jurisdiction, not over any district, but over the hearers in every district who demanded the services of the Gaelic minister’ (p. xli). His own congregation stayed with him through the Disruption. Not only did he serve his own congregation, however, but ‘the whole of the Highlands seemed to claim him as their own’ (p. xlii), and he was frequently inundated with requests for help of many different sorts (examples are listed on pp. xlii-xlviii) from Gaels all over the Highlands. In addition, MacLeod was a dean of the Chapel Royal, and he preached before the Queen and her Consort at Blair Athol, acting as one of her chaplains in Scotland.

MacLeod’s fiftieth year in the ministry was marked in Glasgow by a celebratory meeting in the City Hall. After his retirement, MacLeod preached occasionally at St. Columba’s, while his assistant and successor took on the greater part of the work. MacLeod died in Glasgow on 25th November 1862 at the age of 79, having been a minister for 57 years. He was buried in Glasgow and a marble bust of him was erected in the lobby of St. Columba’s Church.

An Teachdaire Gaelach was published between 1829 and 1831. It was the first major Gaelic periodical and its influence was considerable. MacLeod wanted to provide the Highlanders with the same range of subject-matter as was readily available in English, in their own language, and he thus expedited the development of Gaelic register and lexicon into the modern era. A number of other Gaelic periodicals followed during the course of the nineteenth century. Most of them were produced in Scotland, but the Australian An Teachdaire Gàidhealach was published in Tasmania in 1857, running for ten issues; and Mac-Talla (Text 81) was published in Cape Breton between 1892 and 1904.

In the judgement of Rev. Nigel MacNeil (1929, p. 505): ‘The first volume of the Gaelic Messenger for 1830 was condemned by some as too light and racy; the second and last for 1831 received so little support that the magazine was stopped. The late Mr. W. R. MacPhun, the publisher, informed the writer, in 1873, that the parcels of “Messengers” sent to the Highlands and Islands came back at the end of the year, after they had been read, without any accompanying payment, of course. Dr. MacLeod and his enterprising publisher saw then that it was time to give up the business.’

NB The presence of material shared by the present volume and text 108 (Caraid nan Gaidheal), text 130 (Leabhar nan Cnoc), and text 135 (Co’Chruinneachadh) will require editors sometimes to reject material in this volume in favour of versions of the same items contained in one of these other volumes; hence the B/D rating of this volume. See further below.
ContentsThis journal was published monthly from May 1829 to May 1831. Vol. I (‘O Bhealltuinn 1829 gu Bealltuinn 1830’) and Vol. II (‘o Bhealltuinn 1830 gu Bealltuinn 1831’) are bound together in one volume in the NLS copy consulted.

Each issue contains around 24 pages, comprising a variety of articles of different lengths, e.g.: Volume II, ‘XVI. Aireamh. 1830 Ceud Mhios an Fhogharaidh’ contains Latha Chomunaich, a story by ‘Am Morbheinneach’ (Vol. II, pp. 73-78); An t-Sàbaid, a poem (Vol. II, pp. 78-80); Cuairt a Mhinisteir Ghaelaich (Vol. II, pp. 80-83); an article on Iain Knox, continued from the previous issue (Vol. II, pp. 83-86); Còmhradh nan Cnoc (Vol. II, pp. 86-90); Dàn o Anacreon, am Bàrd Gréugach (Vol. II, p. 90); an article on Morta Dhunàbhairt (Vol. II, pp. 90-92); the story of Eòghann a Chinn Bhig (Vol. II, pp. 92-94); Senacherib 2 Righ xix. 35, translated by An t-Eileanach (Vol. II, pp. 94-95); an article Mu’n Chomunn a tha’n Glaschu, chum leas spioradail ar luchd-dùthcha ann an America mu thuath, chur air aghaidh (Vol. II, p. 95); Naigheachdan (Vol. II, p. 95); Leabhar Ur Gaelic – An t-Ailleagan (Vol. II, p. 96); and Focal San Dealachadh (Vol. II, p. 96).

Occasionally there are footnotes to explain unfamiliar words, e.g. Sanndaich is glossed ‘Sandwich’ (Vol. I, p. 87) and arphuntachadh is explained as ‘forfeited’ (Vol. I, p. 21). The name or initials of the author or translator is usually given at the end of the piece. A number of the articles, such as Cuairt a’ Mhinisteir GhalldaEachdraidh mu Bhliadhna Thearluich, and Còmhradh nan Cnoc, are actually series of articles which run throughout the two volumes. There is a table of contents, in English, at the beginning of each volume.
LanguageThis text contains a number of articles relating to contemporary technology, e.g.: Mu Chlo-bhualadh Leabhraichean (Vol. I, pp. 15-17); Cairt no Inneal-Iuil a Mharaiche (Vol. I, pp. 17-18); Mu na h-Innleachdan, Mu’n Ghloin’-amhairc, no Fhad-sheallaich (Vol. I, pp. 34-35); Mun Ghloine-Mheudachaidh, which a footnote explains as a ‘Microscope’ (Vol. I, pp. 35-36); Mu Inneal na Deathacha, which a footnote explains as a ‘Steam Engine’ (Vol. I, pp. 64-66); Mu Charbad na Smuide (Vol. I, pp. 176-77); and Bata nan Speur, which a footnote explains as a ‘Balloon’ (Vol. II, pp. 39-40). The following may serve as an example of the language of these articles: ‘Tha coire anabarrach mòr air a dheanamh do iarunn no dh’umha, air a lionadh le uisge, agus air a thoirt gu goil. Anns an doigh so, tha mòran deathach ag éiridh a tha dol roi fheadan mor farsuing, cosmhuil ri baraille fada iaruinn, a tha g éiridh o mhullach a choire so. Anns an fheadan so, tha slat iaruinn air a cumadh co dlù theann agus nach faigh an deathach suas eadar i agus am feadan, ceart mar chithear slat gunna-sgailc’ (Vol. I, p. 65).

There are also a number of articles relating to world geography and natural history, e.g.: Ma’n Sgadan, about the life-cycle of the herring (Vol. I, pp. 63-64); Mu Aibhnichean Mòr an t-Saoghail (Vol. I, pp. 196-97); Mu thobraichean Goileach Iceland (Vol. I, pp. 197-98); Baile Mòr Rioghachd CHINA (Vol. I, pp. 198-99); Mu Algiers (Vol. II, pp. 55-57); Na h-Arabianaich (Vol. II, pp. 169-72); Mu Iasgach na Muice-Mara (Vol. II, pp. 229-33); Mu Chraobhan Iongantach an t-Saoghail (e.g. Vol. II, pp. 233-35, 254-56); and An Dobhar-chù, no an Leas-leathan (Vol. II, pp. 256-58). There also articles on geophysical subjects, e.g.: Mu na Speuraibh Rionnagach (Vol. I, pp. 175-76); Mu’n Chruinne (e.g. Vol. II, pp. 112-13, 177-79); and Comharraidhean air Caochlaidhean na Sìde (pp. 182-84, 210-11). Here is an example of the language of these articles: ‘Tha ’n dobhar-chu céin-thireach na sheòrsa creutair eadar Iasg an uisge agus beathaichean ceithir-chosach: ’S coingeis leis uisge no tìr, agus tha sinn a’ smuainteachadh nach miste le ’r luchd-dùthcha cùnntas fhaotainn air an dòigh iongantaich leis an àbhaist do na creutairean so an tighean agus am bailtean mòra a thogail’ (Vol. II, p. 256).

There are a number of articles relating to Scottish history, e.g.: Mu’n Mhurt’ear Uilleam Burke (Vol. I, pp. 19-20); Mu Chuid do Shean Eachdruidh na Gaeltachd (Vol. I, pp. 20-22, pp. 45-46); Mu Chath Dhruimclog (Vol. I, pp. 43-45); Eachdraidh mu Bhliadhna Thearluich (e.g. Vol. I, pp. 57-60, 81-84); Mort Ghlinne Comhann (Vol. I, pp. 60-63); Righ Uilleam IV (Vol. II, pp. 54-55); Alastair Mac Cholla (pp. 61-64); Mu Cholla Ciotach (Vol. II, pp. 113-15); and Eachdraidh na h-Alba (e.g. Vol. II, pp. 179-82, 201-02). The following sentences, on the Battle of Drumclog, give the flavour of the language of these articles: ‘’Nuair a thuig Clèabhars am fios a chuireadh air ais, am fuil, a deir esan, biodh air an cinn fein. ’Se focal catha air ar taobh-ne, Bàs gun iochd. Cho-’fhreagair gach saighdear a bha fodha, mar sin bitheadh e’ (Vol. I, p. 45).

A number of the articles give advice and information, e.g.: Mo [sic, for MuCheannachd agus Reic gun Chìs-dhìoladh, which includes the term smugleireachd (Vol. I, pp. 87-88); and Mu Chur a Bhuntata (Vol. 1, pp. 287-88). Some of these relate to medical issues, such as Leigheas arson Losgaidh (Vol. I, p. 167 [first occurrence]); Mu Dhaoine Gheibh Bogadh Bathaidh, Ath-Bheothachadh (Vol. I, p. 286); and Comhairle feumail o Léigh ainmeil, a dh’ fheudas a bhi goireasach dhoibhsan a tha fad o lighichibh (Vol. I, pp. 286-87). On saving a drowning man, we are told, ‘’Nuair a bheirear as an uisge e, cha’n’eil mionaid ri chall; agus cha’n’eil doigh is cunnartaiche na ni a tha ro chumannta, an ceann a chumail fodha, no a chur trast air baraille, no idir an corp a shuathadh le salann no le spiorad laidir. ’Se cheud ni bu chòir a dheanamh, an aire thoirt nach ’eil ni air bith sa bheul no anns an t-sròin a chumas bac air an anail’ (Vol. I, p. 286).

There are a number of articles relating to superstition and the Otherworld, such as Manaidhean (Vol. II, pp. 45-46); Mu Fhiosachd (Vol. II, pp. 141-43), Mu Thaibhsean (Vol. II, pp. 127-29), and Mu Thaibhsean agus Mu Bhuitseachd (Vol. I, pp. 59-61). The article Mu Fhiosachd contains the following pronouncement: ‘Feudaidh sinn a ràdh gun deach làithean na fiosachd seachad: Agus feudaidh sinn a ràdh mu luchd na drùidheachd, mar thuirt an duin’ eile mu na bòchdain, gun do theich iad ’nuair thainig an là. Gun do theich bràithreachas na fiosachd roimh shoilleireachd an t-Soisgeil; oir cha ’n ’eil neach air bith a fhuair làn eòlas air an fhìrinn nach ’eil a’ sealltuinn air luchd-drùidheachd mar chealgairean, agus air drùidheachd mar ni faoin’ (Vol. II, pp. 141-42).

This text also contains a number of stories, e.g.: An Creachadair Suairce. Sgeula Gaelach, which contains the term cìs-mheachainn for ‘blackmail’ (Vol. I, pp. 282-83). Some articles carry a distinct Christian message, e.g. Cuairt a Mhinisteir Ghallda (Vol. I, pp. 25-30, etc.) and Sgeul’ mu Mhàiri nighean Eoghainn bhàin; air aithris leatha fein (Vol. I, pp. 97-102). Other religious articles include Mu Shacramaid na Suipearach (Vol. II, pp. 1-5) and Bron a Chriosduidh (Vol. II, p. 17). There are also some poems and hymns, including Laoidh (Vol. I, pp. 37-38); Dan Do’n Bhogha Fhrois (Vol. I, pp. 42-43); and Oran an Earraich (Vol. II, pp. 14-16).

A few of the articles touch on language, such as Gna-Fhocail Ghae’lach (Vol. I, pp. 39-40), Toimhseagain (Vol. I, pp. 281-82), and Mu na Canmhuinnean a tha ’n Dlù-chairdeas do’n Ghaelic (Vol. II, pp. 57-59). There are also a number of letters to the editor, on a variety of topics.
EditionFurther research is needed to ascertain the publishing history of individual essays and articles which appear in Dr MacLeod’s various publications. In general, editors should prefer the earliest form of a given article, though Dr MacLeod’s involvement in the publication of all the texts printed in the 1820s, 1830s and 1840s may in some specific cases necessitate reference to variant readings or rejection of an earlier reading in favour of a later one.
Other Sources
Further ReadingMacNeill, Nigel, The Literature of the Highlanders (Stirling, 1929: [n. pub.]).
Link LabelDigital version created by National Library of Scotland
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