Reference Number203
TitleTocasaid ’Ain Tuirc
AuthorMacGilliosa, Donnchadh
Date Of Edition2004
Date Of Languageearly 21c
Date Of Language Ed2000-
DateMacroEarly 21st c.
Date Of Language Notes
Place PublishedInverness
LocationNational, academic, and local libraries
Geographical OriginsLewis (Cnoc Àrd, Ness)
Geographical Origins EdLewis
Geographical Origins Notes
RegisterLiterature, Prose
Register EdLiterature, Prose
A collection of 16 short stories, this is the third book published by Ùr-sgeul.
The stories cover a range of topics. Some are set in real life (in Lewis), while others are fantasy.
This text is a good source of Lewis Gaelic, including informal direct speech.
This text is a good source of information about life in Lewis in the twentieth century.
Alternative Author NameDuncan Gillies
Manuscript Or EditionEd.
Size And Condition20cm x 13.5cm
Short TitleTocasaid ’Ain Tuirc
Reference DetailsNational, academic and local libraries
Number Of Pages138
Gaelic Text ByN/A
Social ContextDonnchadh MacGilliosa was born in Ness in the north of Lewis in 1941. He studied at Aberdeen University and then moved to London, where he has worked as a teacher and as a gardener. MacGilliosa has also published a short book of translations from Shakespeare, Seachd Luinneagan le Shakespeare (1988). Together with Calum Greum he published a book of short stories translated into Gaelic, Thall ’s A-Bhos (1991). He also wrote a short novel for children, Disathairn’, which was published in 1992.
ContentsThe Clàr-Innse (p. 7) lists the titles of the 16 short stories that follow. Many of the stories are named after one of the characters who appears in them. They are: Bàrdachd Mhurchaidh Bhig (pp. 9-16), An Tocasaid (pp. 17-20), Dòmhnall Iain (pp. 21-33), A’ Chliutag (pp. 34-38), Am Bromaire Mòr (pp. 39-43), ‘Sport’ (pp. 44-49), Calum Iain Thormoid (pp. 50-59), Cock of the Walk (pp 60-66), Na Brògan Donna (pp. 67-81), Iain Geur (pp. 82-91), Cailean Mi Fhìn (pp. 92-100), Am Fear Nàimhdeil, Neimheil (pp. 101-05), A’ Tilleadh (pp. 106-08), Turas Thormoid a Sgoil Steòrnabhaigh (pp. 109-16), An Sleapan (pp. 117-31), An Sleapan A-Rithist (pp. 132-38).

Although this is formally a collection of short stories, it sometimes reads like a novel, as the same characters appear in a number of stories. The characters themselves are very distinctive, and many of the stories are named after them. For example, the second story An Tocasaid tells of how Tormod (a twelve-year-old boy-genius) got this nickname by falling into a barrel of water when he was a young boy. Tormod appears in a number of other stories, including Cock of the Walk, where another young boy, Am Pluicean, with a reputation for being a bit of a bully, aims to challenge him to a fight at a fun-fair. When he sees Tormod successfully fighting off another boy, he changes his mind.

While most of the stories in this volume are written as if set in the real world, a section of stories in the middle of the book, beginning with Na Brògan Donna (pp. 67-81), and finishing with A’ Tilleadh (pp. 106-08), are presented as tales told to young Tormod by his grandmother. The tales focus on a pair of shoes owned by a prince. The shoes persuade the prince to leave his father’s kingdom, and the stories tell of his adventures and of the people he meets as he travels for a year and a day, with his brown shoes to guide him. Am Bromaire Mòr tells of a dream Tormod had, in which he finds himself trying to retrieve a stone with a hole in it which is hanging round the neck of an old man. The two stories about An Sleapan are centred around Clach an Truiseil, a huge standing stone in Baile an Truiseil on the West Side of Lewis. In the second story, An Sleapan meets Tormod for the first time, as Tormod is sitting on top of Clach an Truiseil (which stands nearly 6 metres tall), having scaled it using ropes. The two become good friends.

Most of the stories are humorous in some way, and many are slightly quirky. The text is sprinkled with verse (much of it also humorous), which is presented as having been composed either by the main characters themselves, or by others in the township. Bàrdachd a’ Bhuntàt’, for example, begins ‘O, ’ille chnapaich, nach math mar a tha: \ bho làn peile gheibh sinn poca no dhà, \ ’s tha thu fàs dhuinn bliadhna bho bhliadhna. \\ Tha thu fàs dhuinn bliadhna bho bhliadhna, \ ’s cha bhi ’m baile sa chaoidh gun bhiadh ann \ agus tus’ air do chùmhnadh slàn, fallainn’ (p. 52).
LanguageThe language of the stories is informal with hints of a story-teller’s style. They often contain colourful details. Local people and places are mentioned throughout. For example, ‘Sport’ begins: ’S ann a’ snaidhm clò a bha Sport. Mar sin, bha a’ bheart na tosd. Cha chuir mise ceart ann an seo dè an seòrsa clò a bha e cur innt’. An e clò plèana glas a bh’ ann, no clò srianagach ceithir-spàil. No an robh aige ri atharrachadh na tappets. Co-dhiù, bha an clò a thainig aist’ aige fhèin ’s aig Tormod air a phasgadh. Bhiodh e shuas air mullach pilear a’ gheat’ sa mhadainn, mus tigeadh làraidh Tod, no làraidh Newall, no làraidh MacKenzie no làraidh Choinnich Rod. Bha Tormod air a tharraing gu bhith ann an cuideachd Sport le bannan gràidh, ’s carson a bhiodh sinn diùid ga aideachadh (p. 44). The stories that are set as if in the real world are a good source of information about life in Lewis in the twentieth century.

The author has a humorous turn of phrase, and occasionally deploys English phrases to good effect, e.g.: Against all expectations, bhuannaich am Pluicean coconut. Seo an fhionnaraidh a choisinn Seonaidh Beag a’ Chnuic Àird half tea-set ag amaiseadh air targaid le gunna (p. 66).

The text contains plenty of direct speech, which is often expressed colloquially, e.g.: Chan eil fhios a’m (p. 44), Tud, co-dhiù (p. 49), Mo chreach-s’, a bhròinein, dè ’m math dhut a bhith faighneachd dhìoms’ (p. 67), and Siuthad a-nis, a bhalaich (p. 71).
OrthographyThis text is a good source of Lewis Gaelic. Typical Lewis forms and names include the following: bhoill (p. 45), doras a’ bhùird-isein (p. 47), chan urra dhòmhs’ a ràdh (p. 118), cha robh ’n còrr ac’ air fhaicinn (p. 61), cleachdt’ (p. 61). The same is true of such nicknames as A’ Chliutag, Am Bromaire, and An Sleapan.

Despite its informality and dialectal flavour, the orthography of this text shows signs of awareness of the Gaelic Orthographic Conventions.
EditionFirst edition. Some of the stories were initially published in Gairm.
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