Reference Number197
TitleSaoghal Bana-mharaiche: Cunntas Beul-aithris mu Bheatha Muinntir an Iasgaich ann am Machair Rois
AuthorN/A (Edited work)
EditorWatson, Seòsamh
Date Of Edition2007
Date Of Languagemid 20c
Date Of Language Ed1950-1999
DateMacroMid 20th c.
Date Of Language Notes
PublisherClann Tuirc
Place PublishedBrig o’ Turk, Perthshire
LocationNational and academic libraries
Geographical OriginsEaster Ross (Seaboard Villages: Shandwick, Balintore, and Hilton)
Geographical Origins EdEaster Ross
GeoMacroE Ross, E Sutherland and Caithness
Geographical Origins Notes
RegisterProse (Folk-life)
Register EdLiterature, Prose
151 short stories and 136 proverbs and sayings, gathered from six informants in the Seaboard Villages of Easter Ross between 1967 and 1983.
This text is a good example of recorded oral history about way of life in the Easter Ross fishing villages between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries.
This text is a good source of dialect words and phrases from Easter Ross. There is a glossary at the end of the volume.
The spelling of dialect forms has been modified to a certain extent. An extensive Ro-ràdh explains dialectal features and editorial principles.
Alternative Author NameJoseph Watson
Manuscript Or EditionEd.
Size And Condition21cm x 14cm
Short TitleSaoghal Bana-mharaiche
Reference DetailsNational, academic and local libraries
Number Of Pagesxlv, 226
Gaelic Text ByN/A
Social ContextThe editor, who went on to become a Professor of Modern Irish at University College Dublin, came into contact with Easter Ross Gaelic as a fieldworker for Edinburgh University’s Linguistic Survey of Scotland in the late 1960s.

This volume contains a collection of oral accounts from six informants whom he describes as follows:
Isbeil Anna (bean Uilleim MhicAonghais), born in Hilton in 1889
Anndra ’n Chart (a Bhanns), born in Shandwick in 1885
Isbeil Johndan (a’ Bh.-ph. a Bhanns), born in Shandwick in 1882
Uilleam Bithean (Sginnearach), born in Shandwick c1890
Ùistean Bil-dan (Ros), born in Shandwick c1905
Anndra a Bhanns, born in Shandwick c1920.

Most of the material published in this volume was collected from Isbeil Anna.
ContentsThe volume opens with a Table of Contents (Clàr-Innse: pp. vii-xvi), a Foreword (Facal-Toisich: pp. xvii-xx) contributed by Professor Séamus Ó Catháin, an author’s Preface (Ro-Bhriathar: pp. xxi-xxiv) and a list of Abbreviations (Giorrachaidhean is Samhlaidhean: pp. xxv-xxvi).

These are followed by a substantial Introduction (Ro-Ràdh: pp. xxvii-xlv) introducing the Seaboard Villages and the informants. It also includes discussion of the local dialect and the editorial principles employed in this edition, examining in turn features such as consonants, vowels, initial mutations, regular and irregular verbs, adjectives, etc.

The stories (naidheachean) are divided into eight chapters as follows: Na Bana-Mharaichean (pp. 1-21), An t-Iasgach (pp. 21-29), An Seòladh (pp. 29-32), Air Mhuinntireas (pp. 33-37), Am Fearann (pp. 37-42), Saoghal nan Daoine (pp. 42-95), Fearas-chuideachd (pp. 96-108), agus Eachdraidh na Dùthcha (pp. 108-20). There are 151 stories in total. The larger chapters are divided into smaller sections containing stories on related topics. For example, Saoghal nan Daoine (pp. 42-95) contains stories grouped under the following headings: Na Treabhair: An Tughadh, Na Treabhair: An Teine, Am Biadh, Na Beathaichean, Na Bùthan, An Eaglais, A’ Bhuidseachd, An t-Slàinte, Am Pòsadh, A’ Chlann, Na Seann Daoine, Am Bàs, A’ Ghàidhlig, and Na Ceàirdean.

The stories are followed by Notes (Notaichean air na Naidheachdan: pp. 121-41) explaining the background of some of the stories and indicating where the reader can find more information on particular topics. In addition to the stories, the volume contains a collection of Proverbs (Seanfhaclan: pp. 142-59) and Idioms (Gnàthasan-Cainnt: pp. 159-78). The proverbs are arranged under headings such as An Dàn and Dàimh. Where the meaning of a proverb is not obvious an explanation is given, together with examples of similar proverbs and sayings in English, Irish, and East Sutherland Gaelic.

Only one poem is included in this volume, an elegy that was composed by Arthur Ross on the loss of the Linnet, which sank off the coast near Hilton (see Text 122). Ross’s poem, An Linnet Mhòr, is presented in two forms (pp. 179-206): first, as it was published in the mid-nineteenth century, and then as it was collected orally, in contemporary Gaelic. Watson also provides a wealth of information about the sinking of the ship, and the local families who were affected by the disaster.

The texts are accompanied by footnotes containing alternative readings, corrections and additional information. For example, where the text reads ‘dar bha e an duine òg’ (p. 68), a footnote glosses this as ‘dar bha e na dhuine òg’.

A list of all recordings made by Watson is provided (Liost nan Clàraidhean: pp. 207-08). It indicates which recording each of the stories printed was taken from, and distinguishes Watson’s own recordings from those associated with the Linguistic Survey of Scotland. This is followed by a Bibliography (Clàr nan Leabhraichean: pp. 209-13), and a list of websites (Làthraichean-Lìn: p. 213).

There are four Indexes: Names of Persons (Clàr nan Ainm: pp. 213-16), Place-names (Clàr nan Ainmean-Àite: pp. 216-18), Subjects (Clàr nan Cuspairean: pp. 218-21) and a Glossary (Clàr nam Facal: pp. 221-26), containing words peculiar to the Gaelic dialect of Easter Ross.
SourcesThe stories, proverbs, and idioms presented here were collected by Seosamh Watson from six informants in Hilton and Shandwick, between 1967 and 1983 (see Social Context above). See Text 122 for more information on An Linnet Mhòr.
LanguageThis text is a good source of information relating to way of life in the Seaboard Villages of Easter Ross from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Each story provides a glimpse of some aspect of life in the villages. In Na bana-Mharaichean, Isbeil Anna explains how the fish were prepared by the bana-mharaichean: Ò, dh’fhimireadh tu thoirt na cinn is an guts às an t-iasg is a spealltadh is a ghlanadh is a shailleadh agus, rèist, chur anns am bothan, làn am bothan (p. 2). In Fearas-chuideachd (pp. 96-108), Anndra ’n Chart describes how the men used to make pipes out of crabs’ claws. In Eachdraidh na Dùthcha (pp. 108-20), one gains an insight into life during the Second World War for the women who were working at home.

The stories vary in length, and range from the factual to the humorous. There are a number of humorous stories about drink (An Deoch). The first of these reads as follows: Bha Ùistean dol dachaigh aon oidhche, làn liquor. Shuidh e anns an ditch is bha smeòrach seinn. Bha an smeòrach ràdh is seinn, ‘Òl uile e, òl uile e, òl uile e!’ ‘Chan eil mise amaideach! [thuirt Ùistean.] Tha thusa ag iarraidh mi òl uile e, ach chan òl! Tha mi cumail glainneag airson am madainn.’ (p. 102). Unassimilated English words are italicised in the text.

The sections on Seanfhaclan (pp. 142-59) and Gnàthasan-Cainnt (pp. 159-78) provide us with many insights into the mind-set of the people, e.g.: Dar as fhaisge an fheòil air a’ chnàimh, ’s fhaisge na sin an smior (p. 150); Cha tig an còta fada gu h-uile neach (p. 158); Tha an doras agad ri baile (p. 165). The section on Beannachaidhean gives examples of greetings and exclamations, e.g.: Beannachd Dhè air an fhàrdaich! (p. 165), Dia gun ullaich dhomh! (p. 167), Tì nam ais (p. 168), and Itheadh e mo chac! (p. 170).
OrthographyThis text contains many examples of the Gaelic dialect of the Seaboard Villages. There is an extensive discussion of the dialect in the Ro-Ràdh (pp. xxvii-xlv), which cites such local forms as eise (esan), a-bhàn (sìos), nìos (, future tense of dèan), and airson dhèanamh an job (airson an job a dhèanamh).

Unfortunately, the editorial principles adopted has resulted in a number of dialectal forms being lost. The editor states in the Ro-Ràdh: ’S e prìomh amas a bha agam ... gun ruigeadh an leabhar so leughadaireachd cho fada farsaing is a ghabhadh. Uime sin, cha do ghabhadh ri modh-litreachaidh a thaisbeineadh dualchainnt an àite gu h-iomlan. An àite sin, ’s ann a rinn mi an litreachadh a leasachadh cho fada is a b’ urrainn ach am biodh e ag aontachadh ris na nòsan a tha gan craobh-sgaoileadh an-diugh (p. xxxiii). The types of formal and spelling changes which have been made are specified in the Ro-Ràdh. While dialectal forms such as òcrach (òtrach) and reumh (freumh) have been retained, forms such as creiseag, ciomag, ur’n, and lormach have been changed to greiseag, criomag, urrainn, and lomnochd. At the same time, don an duin’, unnain-as, sinn-as, and beil thu, have been changed to don duine, ionnainnsa (= annainne), sinnsa (= sinne), and a bheil thu.
EditionThe 151 stories in this volume were first published, in Gaelic and English, in two parts, in Béaloideas 71 (2003) and 72 (2004). The orthography was modified (sometimes substantially) for the present edition. Editors should read the Ro-Ràdh carefully and be prepared to compare the Béaloideas texts with those of this edition before quoting forms from this text.
Other Sources
Further ReadingWatson, Seosamh, ‘’N Linnet Mór: a 19th century Gaelic poem: a window on the language of an Easter Ross community’, Scottish Language, 21 (2002), 43-59.
Watson, Seosamh, ‘Saoghal Bana-Mharaiche: Oral Accounts of Life in an Easter Ross Fisher Community (Part 1)’, Béaloideas, 71 (2003), 75-215.
Watson, Seosamh, ‘Saoghal Bana-Mharaiche: Oral Accounts of Life in an Easter Ross Fisher Community (Part 2)’, Béaloideas, 72 (2004), 99-218.
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