Reference Number217001
TitleAn Ròsarnach
AuthorN/A (Edited work)
EditorErskine, Ruaraidh
Date Of Edition1917
Date Of Languageearly 20c
Date Of Language Ed1900-1949
DateMacroEarly 20th c.
Date Of Language Notes
PublisherAlexander McLaren & Sons
Place PublishedGlasgow
VolumeVol. 1 of 4
LocationNational, academic, and local libraries
Geographical OriginsVarious
Geographical Origins EdVarious
Geographical Origins Notes
RegisterLiterature, Prose and Verse
Register EdLiterature, Prose and Verse
GenreLiterature and Information
MediumProse & Verse
Literary periodical; Non-fiction prose; Historical essays; Political essays: Scottish nationalism; Gaelic and Scottish literature; Literary criticism; Short stories; Traditional tales; Poetry and songs; Early 20th century orthography, with 19th century features; Mix of formal and informal registers; Some examples of dialect-specific language.
Alternative Author NameN/A
Manuscript Or EditionEd.
Size And Condition27cm
Short TitleAn Ròsarnach
Reference DetailsNLS: NE.731.h.6
Number Of Pagesx, 228
Gaelic Text ByN/A
Social ContextAn Ròsarnach was one of several early 20th-century publications edited and funded by Ruaraidh Erskine of Marr (Ruaraidh Arascain is Mhàirr). He was born into a noble family as the Hon. Ruaraidh Stuart Richard Erskine of Marr in Brighton in 1869. His father was the fifth Baron Erskine, William Macnaghten Erskine, and his mother, Caroline Alice Martha Grimble. Brought up in Edinburgh, he learned Gaelic from his Harris-born nanny.
As an adult, he took an active interest in Scottish nationalism inspired by the Irish nationalist movement. He participated in the Scottish Home Rule Association in 1892, and in 1920 he helped found the Scots National League – one of the predeccesors of the Scottish National Party – which advocated full Scottish Independence. His own unique vision, however, was for a resurgence of Gaelic across the country, and ‘a self-governing Celtic Scotland’ (Thomson 2004: 70).
Working for this combined political and cultural goal, Erskine published a number of Gaelic and English publications and periodicals between 1901 and 1930. In the early 20th century, as Donald John MacLeod comments, ‘a new and more serious catalystic influence had begun to operate in Gaelic cultural affairs in the person of The Hon. Ruaraidh Erskine of Mar [...]. Mar deployed his own capital and his remarkable resources of ideas and of energy to rid Gaelic literature of the influence both of its “peasant origins” and its new “enthusiasm for the music hall” and so to raise it to the same level as the best of English literature’ (MacLeod 1976: 210).
These publications included the bilingual monthly periodical Am Bàrd (1901-02), the quarterly periodical Guth na Bliadhna (1904-1925) (Text 218), a short-lived weekly newspaper Alba (1908-09), the story magazine An Sgeulaiche (1909-11) and An Ròsarnach (1917, 1918, 1921, 1930) (ibid.: 211). Each of the four volumes of An Ròsarnach are an attractive collection of tales, histories, poetry and non-fiction writing with illustrations. Although not as significant to Gaelic publishing as the more journalistic Guth na Bliadhna, An Ròsarnach contains work by noted writers such as Dòmhnall Mac na Ceàrdaich – whose short story ‘Lughain Lir’ in the third volume was considered ‘one of the few jewels in the fiction of the early twentieth century’ (Watson 2011: 29) – as well as stories and essays by Iain MacCormaic (see Text 64 and Text 70), Eachann MacDhùghaill (editor of Text 298) and Iain N. MacLeòid (later known as ‘Alasdair Mor’; see Text 57).
The fourth volume of An Ròsarnach, published in 1930, appears to be Erskine’s last contribution to Gaelic publishing. In the late 1920s Erskine broke with the National Party of Scotland, into which the Scots National League had merged, because of their political direction. He left Scotland for France and England, and died in 1960.
ContentsThe periodical was published by Alexander MacLaren and Sons (Alasdair Mac Labhrainn agus A Mhic) in Glasgow. It came out irregularly in four volumes: Leabhar I (1917), Leabhar II (1918), Leabhar III (1921), and Leabhar IV (1930).
The volumes vary in page length and the number of articles and other items they contain: Leabhar I – 17 items, 227 pages; Leabhar II – 15 items, 216 pages; Leabhar III – 11 items, 162 pages; Leabhar IV – 15 items, 159 pages.
Each volume is in Gaelic only (including some Irish) and contains a mix of essays on different themes — historical, biographical, philosophical and political – poetry, both original and translated, and fictional or traditional stories.
The first volume, for example, contains the following: ‘Na Ceiltich’ (pp. 1-13) by Aonghas Mac Eanruig, an essay in ancient and early medieval history; ‘Innis Deoin-a’-Chridhe’ (pp. 14-15) by D.M.N.C. [Dòmhnall Mac na Ceàrdaich], poetry; ‘Buaidh na Gàidhlig air Beurla nan Gall’ (pp. 16-32) by Lachlann Mac Bheathain, a linguistic and historical essay; ‘Na Trì Orain’ (p. 33), a song translated from German by Uisdean Laing; ‘Jeanne D’Arc’ (pp. 34-67) by Aonghas Mac Eanruig, an historical biography; ‘Rob Ruadh Mac Griogair’ (pp. 68-75) by Dòmhnull Mac Caluim, an historical biography with poetry; ‘Dàn-Cluiche Cinneachail Gailig’ (pp. 76-94) by Niall Ros, a literature essay; ‘Oran’ (p. 95), a song translated by Uisdean Laing from English; ‘Bean a’ Bhocsa Bhuidhe’ (pp. 96-124), a short story influenced by traditional tales; ‘Tòir na Maiseachd’ (pp. 125-156) by Ruaraidh Arascain is Mhàirr, a philosophical essay on aesthetics; ‘An Uair Dheireannach aig Faustus’ (pp. 157-158), a poem translated by Uisdean Laing from English; ‘Uamh an Oir’ (pp. 159-170) by D.M.N.C., a traditional tale; ‘Cuairt anns an Fhrith’ (pp. 171-191) by Niall Mac Gille Sheathanaich, an informative essay; ‘Ros Aluinn’ (pp. 192-193) by D.M.N.C., a spiritual poem; ‘Gille-Criosd, Morair Mhàirr’ (pp. 194-208) by Ruaraidh Arascain is Mhàirr, an historical essay; ‘Beachdan am measg nam Blathan’ (pp. 209-210) by T. D. Mac Dhòmhnuill, a poem; ‘Nighean Rìgh-fo-Thuinn’ (pp. 211-227), a traditional tale edited by Iain Mhic Aoidh.
LanguageLike its sister publication, Guth na Bliadhna, An Ròsarnach is among the most important publications of Gaelic prose in the early 20th century period. It also helped to develop Gaelic writing – both fiction and non-fiction – and add new terms for different subjects. A number of registers and writing styles are used to match the variety of genres. The four volumes also have a reasonable balance of southern and northern Gaelic dialects, when the dialect of the author is recognisable at all.
In terms of register, we could compare two different types of essay. In a philosophical essay by Ruaraidh Arascain is Mhàirr, ‘Tòir na Maiseachd’ (Leabhar I, pp. 125-156), we find a formal register. The author frequently uses the passive voice: thatar ag ràdh gur iad a’ mhaiseachd agus am maitheas àrd-chùspair na fìrinne (p. 125), Faicear leis na sgrìobh Grote air […] (p. 127), agus faodar a chur ris an ràdh so […] (p. 128). Sentences are sometimes quite long and detailed, e.g. B’ annsa leo riamh ban-dia eireachdail na loinne a lorgachadh, ceum air cheum, air a h-ais a dh’ ionnsaigh a dachaidh mhìorbhuileach, fad air astar, an glac nam beann iol-chruthach, far am bheil spiorad na meanmnachd agus nan àrd-smuaintean a’ sior-ghabhail tàmh (p. 126). Abstract nouns and concepts are used – e.g. nàdur is brìgh na maiseachd (p. 131), gur iad a’ mhaiseachd agus am maitheas àrd-chùspair na fìrinne (p. 125) – as well as complex phrasing; e.g. faodar a chantuinn gur ann am mùthadh rianail rìaghailteach, agus an sreathan siùbhlach camagach, làn gràis is bòidhchead, a bha esan a’ sior shireadh air a son (p. 132).
In comparison, in ‘Cuairt anns an Fhrith’ (Leabhar I, pp. 171-191) by Niall Mac Gille Sheathanaich, an essay describing deer hunting in Highland history and folklore, the language style is rich and idiomatic, with a great deal of terminology related to deer, while the register itself is less formal, directly addressing the reader – e.g. Ma tha thusa, a leughadair, gu socrach ann an cathair da-làimhe; do chasan seasgair air leac an teintein (p. 172), Sin agad, a leughadair shuairce, beagan mu dheidhinn nam fiadh (pp. 190-191) – and using the personal pronoun more frequently, e.g. Bheir mi a nis iomradh air an Dàmhair (p. 178), Chaidh innseadh dhomh an déidh làimh (p. 180), mur ’eil mi meallta (p. 185), Thug mi iomradh cheana air (p. 189).
Looking at terminology related to specific subjects, there are several articles related to Scottish and Celtic history, e.g. ‘Na Ceiltich’ (Leabhar I, pp. 1-13 ), ‘Rob Ruadh Mac Griogair’ (Leabhar I, pp. 68-75 ), ‘Gille-Criosd, Morair Mhàirr’ (Leabhar I, pp. 194-208), ‘Cath-Chuairt Eideird Bhruis an Eirinn’ (Leabhar II, pp. 1-66), ‘Mac Bheatha is Crùn Albann’ (Leabhar III, pp. 1-32), ‘An Saoghal Eile ann an Rioghachd Fiobh’ (Leabhar III, pp. 35-50), ‘An Déidh Langside is Roimhe’ (Leabhar III, pp. 108-121). In ‘Na Ceiltich’, for example, we find the following terminology: dà thaobh de Challaid Hadrian (p. 10), na Sasgunnaich Ghearmailteach (p. 10), na Sgottaich Eireannach (p. 10), chuir e air bonn rioghachd Sgottach-Cruithneach air an taobh tuath de Chluaidh agus de Fhorchu (p. 11) — note the use of Forchu for the Forth — Linn-an-Iaruinn (p. 12), Linn-an-Umha (p. 13), a chathaich an aghaidh Cheasair (p. 13).
The journal shows an interest in the relationship between Gaelic and Lowland Scots, for example in the articles ‘Buaidh na Gàidhlig air Beurla nan Gall’ (Leabhar I, pp. 16-32), and ‘Raibeart Burns, Bàrd Ceilteach’ (Leabhar II, pp. 69-94). In the first article, Scots is described as Beurla nan Gall (p. 27) and Beurla na h-Albainn (p. 27), as well as a’ Bheurla Ghallda (p. 25). The author, however, notes: cha’n abair na Gàidheil rithe fhathast ach ‘Beurla,’ is e sin beul-ràdh no dòigh-labhairt, agus riutha-san a labhras i their iad ‘na Goill’ is e sin coigrich no eilthirich a tha a’ tuineachadh anns an tìr (pp. 17-18). Lowlanders are also called muinntir na Machrach (p. 27). Gaelic and Scots are categorised in the following terms: Is iad so, ma ta, ar dà chànain; cànain Cheilteach agus cànain Thiutach (p. 18). The article contains numerous examples of similarities between the two languages, and loan words especially from Gaelic in Scots. An example of similar forms of expression is: “I smell,” their an Sasunnach. “Tha mi a’ faireachadh fàile,” their an Gàidheal. “I feel a smell,” their an Gall (p. 28).
A number of essays deal with literature, including classical literature and Gaelic literature: ‘Dàn-Cluiche Cinneachail Gailig’ by Niall Ros (Leabhar I, pp. 76-94), ‘Virgil’ by Niall Ros (Leabhar IV, pp. 31-40), ‘Uilleam Ros’ by Iain N. MacLeòid (Leabhar II, pp. 113-134). In the first essay, ‘Dàn-Cluiche Cinneachail’ refers to a national drama or dramatic poem. We also find the following terms and phrases: meur de litreachas a ghabhas cur an riochd (p. 76), a deanamh ath-aithris eagnuidh air gach cor agus priomh-chleachdadh ann an eachdraidh nan Gàidheal (p. 76), Chaidh solus ùr a chur air na h-ursgeulan aosmhor le luchd-dealbh nan dàn-chluiche (p. 76), de’n ghnè chinneachail (p. 76), an fhearas-chuideachda (p. 82), deòthas a mhacmeanmna, is an loinn neo-thalamhaidh a bhuineas do shaothair nam bàrd bho shean (p. 86).
There are interesting examples of political essays in Leabhar IV: ‘Cogais Nàiseanta’ by D.M.N.C. (pp. 1-13), ‘An Comunn Mór-Cheilteach’ by Aonghas Mac Eanruig (pp. 14-28), which is also a historical essay, and ‘Cor na Gàidhealtachd an Diugh’ by the same author (pp. 69-77). In the latter we find the following terms, phrases and English loan-words: bha an tur acras a’ farclais aig na dorsan (p. 69), Chan eil sgillinn de phension ’gan ruigheachd ach a mhàin pension Lloyd George (p. 70), Sliochd nan Garbh-chrioch is nan Eileanan’ (p. 70), ‘Achd an Fhearainn (1886)’ (p. 73), an t-airgead mosach ud ris an abair ar coimhearsnaich an dole (p. 74), M’a tha na Gàidheil air “goirtean-a’-chothroim” an diugh (p. 76), i.e. a possible calque from the English ‘level playing field’.
The periodical contains many examples of poetry and songs. New compositions include those by D.M.N.C. (Dòmhnall Mac na Ceàrdaich), in whose poems ‘Innis Deoin-A’ Chridhe’ (Leabhar I, pp. 14-15), ‘Ros Aluinn’ (Leabhar I, pp. 192-193), and ‘Slighe nan Seann Seun’ (Leabhar IV, pp. 29-30) we find a highly symbolic use of language with mystical and spiritual themes. The following is a hypnotic example from the latter poem: ‘SAOIBHIR sìth nan sian an nochd air Tìr-an-Aigh, / Is ciuine ciuil nam fiath ag iadhadh Innse Gràidh, / Is èasgaidh gach sgiath air fianlach dian an Dàin / Is slighe nan seann seun a’ siaradh siar gun tàmh’ (p. 29). There are also translated poems and songs, e.g. Uisdean Laing translated ‘Na Trì Orain’ (Leabhar I, p. 33), composed in German by Ludwig Uhland, and ‘Oran’ (ibid., p. 95), composed in English by C.G. Rossetti.
Fiction in An Ròsarnach include a traditional popular tale, ‘Nighean Rìgh-fo-Thuinn’, ‘Seann-sgeulachd fo làimh Iain Mhic Aoidh’ (Leabhar I, pp. 211-227); a supernatural tale, ‘Sgeul Neònach’, retold by Eachann Mac Dhùghaill (Leabhar IV, pp. 41-49); new short stories such as ‘Lughain Lir’ by D.M.N.C. (Leabhar III, pp. 51-84), and ‘Bean a’ Bhocsa Bhuidhe’ by Iain Mac Cormaig (Leabhar I, pp. 96-124). In the latter we find dramatic dialogue, e.g. ‘“A nighean an uilc!” ars esan, “am bheil thu fathast ag obair air do shean iobartan. Beir am mach as an uisge an rud a th’ agad ann, neo cuiridh mi do cheann fodha gus am bi thu bàthte. A nighean an uilc!” […] “O, Mort, mort! Mathanas; mathanas! Có thu? Có thu? Leig as mi ’s cha dean mi gu bràth e. Obh; óbh! Mathanas; mathanas!”’ (pp. 122-123).
An author’s dialect is not always clear, or may be softened, depending on the genre and register in which they wrote. ‘Uilleam Ros’ (Leabhar II, pp. 113-134) was written by Iain N. MacLeòid (later known as ‘Alasdair Mor’) from Trotternish in Skye, whose Gaelic is possibly influenced by his time in Bernera, Lewis. We find the following dialect-specific, or uncommon, terms in this essay: IS caomh leinn-ne (p. 113), nach dòbhaidh truagh (p. 113), gun tacas (p. 115), sgòdach as in Cha bhitheadh sgoil an Ath-leathann ach sgòdach bochd ’s an làtha ud (p. 116), chuir e ’bhacag orra (p. 117), ro-dhéidheil air (p. 119), do bhean-chinnidh annsannta (p. 123), a droch chlìcean (p. 124), a stàrachd mu’r coinneamh (p. 126). By contrast, there are examples of southern Highland/Argyll dialect in ‘Am Bothan Tughaidh’ (Leabhar III, pp. 122-140), written by Niall Mac ’ille Sheathanaich from Jura, e.g. theireadh iad riut (p. 124), a their riut (p. 128), am bàtan móra is beaga (p. 125), eadar nan sgràileadh (p. 125), an toireisgin (p. 125), do thannasgan (p. 128), a dheanamh cheannag (p. 130), an cròidheadh (p. 130), anns an dorcha (p. 134), cléiteagan’ as in ‘na cléiteagan a’ reothadh mar a bha iad a’ tuiteam oirre (p. 134), ràinig i a ceann-uidhe gu spéideil (p. 134), Air gabhail tuille (p. 135).
OrthographyThe orthography of An Ròsarnach is characteristic of the early 20th century period. The following examples are taken from a sample essay – ‘Na Ceiltich’ by Aonghas Mac Eanruig (Leabhar I, pp. 1-13).
Accents are sometimes absent, although not frequently: eolas (p. 1), is fearr (p. 1), daimh (p. 2), beo (p. 5), gu leoir (p. 7). Acute accents are present where expected: mór (p. 1), (p. 1), théid (p. 1), an céill (p. 2).
Apostrophes are found in prepositions and conjunctions: ri’m faotainn (p. 2), mu’n d’rinn (p. 2), gu’n d’ thàinig (p. 2), de’n (p. 2), o’n d’ fhuair (p. 3), fo’n (p. 5), troimh ’n (p. 5). They are also used with possessive phrases: ’nan cuislean (p. 2), ’nan coltas, ’nan cruth, agus ’nam meudachd (p. 5); and to replace pronouns preceding a vowel: A réir ’aidmheil féin (p. 6). However, apostrophes are not found in phrases where agus is shortened, e.g. Cho fad sa chaidh (p. 2), Cho fad sa nithear (p. 6).
There is sometimes a loss or contraction of a’/ag in verbal nouns after vowels: a bha giulan (p. 7), bhi ’g oidhirpeachadh (p. 6). Vowels also contract following articles or prepositions: Tha’n (p. 5), no’n ceangal (p. 1), a bh’air (p. 6).
Spelling patterns and forms
We find the following older spelling patterns. Consonant change, d < tfhathasd (p. 2), san Spàinnd (p. 2), àm Chriosda (p. 3), a rithisd (p. 4). Vowel changes: u < aSasunnach (p. 1), Breatunn (p. 1), àluinn (p. 2), abhuinn (p. 2), tarruing (p. 7), sàruchadh (p. 7); o < a/eaMeadhonaich (p. 2), cuibhrionn (p. 2), eadhoin (p. 6). Relative form of the verb is: is < asis feàrr (p. 7), is lugha (p. 4).
Older spelling forms include: c’uine (p. 1), so (p. 1), eatorra (p. 1), a bhi (p. 1), Albainn (p. 3), a’ cheud iomradh (p. 3), aobhar (p. 4), Arcaimh (p. 5), air son (p. 6), strìth (p. 7), na h-eileinean (p. 1). Some more unusual spellings are air chor-éigin (p. 2), na h-àmanna (p. 7), is ainmeala (p. 4).
Dialect and orthography
The author’s dialect may be represented in the following examples of spelling: do àrd sgoilearan (p. 1), gu’n d’atharraich (p. 4), de fhuil Cheiltich (p. 3), an tràsda (p. 2), air aideach (p. 3), nach deachaidh (p. 3), ag ìnnseadh (p. 4), an dara (p. 5), sean fhacal (p. 5), seann litreachas (p. 4), na facail (p. 6). Some dialect-specific terms include: Is fiach e fharraid (p. 3), deiream (p. 6).
Orthographic phases
One important feature missing in the sample essay is the older dative plural –aibh, which is more common in the 19th century, e.g. Anns na làithean sin (p. 1) instead of Anns na làithibh sin, do na h-eileinean (p. 1), etc. However, there are still examples of the older form to be found in the first volume of the periodical. In Lachlann Mac Bheathain’s essay ‘Buaidh na Gàidhlig air Beurla nan Gall’ (Leabhar I, pp. 16-32) we find: fad mhóran de cheudaibh (p. 16), ’n ar crìochaibh (p. 16), air crìochaibh (p. 17).
The latter essay uses the modern spelling Gàidhlig which is most common in the first volume of the periodical. Elsewhere, however, there are still frequent examples of the spelling Gàilig – e.g. an dàn-cluiche Gàilig (p. 78), luchd labhairt na Gàilig (p. 84) – which is more often found in the late 19th century period.
EditionFirst edition.
Other Sources
Further ReadingAnon., ‘Ruaraidh Arascain agus Mhàirr’, Gairm, Àireamh 16 (1956), 367.
MacBean, L. (ed.), The Celtic who’s who (Kirkcaldy, 1921: The Fifeshire Advertiser Limited), 38.
MacLeod, Donald John, Twentieth Century Gaelic literature: a description, comprising critical study and a comprehensive bibliography (University of Glasgow, 1969: Unpublished Phd thesis).
MacLeod, Donald John, ‘Gaelic Prose’, Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, Vol. XLIX: 1974-6 (1976), 198-230.
Thomson, Derick S., ed., The Companion to Gaelic Scotland (Glasgow, 1994: Gairm Publications).
Thomson, Derick S., ‘Erskine, Stuart Richard [known as Ruaraidh Erskine of Mar] (1869-1960)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Published online: 23 September 2004):
Watson, Moray, An Introduction to Gaelic Fiction (Edinburgh, 2011: Edinburgh University Press).
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