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Metadata for text 221
No. words in text3192
Title An dara rabhadh bliadhnail do luchd aiteachaidh na Gaeltachd, air aiteachadh chroitean agus gharaidhean
Author Anon.
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1848
Date Of Language 19th c.
Publisher Comunn Dùchail na h-Alba [The Scottish Patriotic Society]
Place Published Edinburgh
Volume N/A
Location National, academic, and local libraries
Link Digital version created by National Library of Scotland
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Unknown
Register Literature, Prose
Alternative Author Name N/A
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 43cm x 34cm
Short Title Dara Rabhadh Bliadhnail
Reference Details NLS: NE.731.H.1(2)
Number Of Pages 1 sheet
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context An Dara Rabhadh Bliadhnail is a hand sheet giving advice to crofters and labourers in the Highlands on the cultivation of crofts and gardens. Produced by ‘COMUNN DUCHAIL NA H-ALBA’, this was the Scottish Patriotic Society, or to give it its full title, the Scottish Patriotic Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes.*
Founded in September 1846, the latter was an organisation of philanthropic landowners and wealthy supporters, which aimed to aid ‘the industrious to raise themselves from destitution, or to prevent their falling into depressed circumstances on the failure of employment’ (Scottish Patriotic Society 1847, p. [44]).
The founding date is significant; between 1846 and 1847 the Highland Potato Famine caused widespread destitution in the western Highlands and Islands. The Society was formed largely in response to this, and its first Object was, for example, ‘To improve the Husbandry of the Crofters by the introduction of practicable and better methods of cultivation, and thereby to extirpate the present wretched croft and cottar system’ (ibid.). Its remit, however, officially concerned destitution across Scotland.
The Society represented a distinct, and indeed unusual, position in arguing against mass emigration as a solution to Highland destitution. The latter view, however, became the dominant one — represented by Sir John McNeill’s 1851 report on the western Highlands and Islands (see MacGillivray 2013).
In an article in its paper, ‘Suggestions for the Improvement of Crofts’, the Society argues:
The loss of the potato crop has exposed vast numbers of the small tenantry to distress and even to famine; instead, however, of sweeping these classes off their estates, and driving them to the dark and pestilential closes of towns and cities, to augment the crowds of squalid misery and vice which there abound, proprietors and other benevolent persons have been at the expense of instituting a society [i.e. the Scottish Patriotic Society], chiefly with the view of collecting and disseminating information, and stimulating and carrying on improvements, in order to better the circumstances of the labouring classes — of those whose capital chiefly consists in their manual labour (Scottish Patriotic Society 1847, p. 18).
Besides attempting to persuade other landowners to alter their estate policy and form ‘local and district auxiliary associations of the benevolent and philanthropic’ (ibid., p. [44]), the Society published a monthly paper, The Industrial Magazine, with reports and information on agricultural improvements. It also published ‘occasional hand sheets, in English and in Gaelic, containing advice’, for example on ‘Croft and Garden Cultivation’, ‘Intemperance’, and ‘Household Cleanliness’ (ibid.).
An Dara Rabhadh Bliadhnail was likely one of the hand sheets on the first topic. Its title states that this was ‘The second Yearly Advice to Highland Cultivators’; however, the first such hand sheet has not been traced. The methods covered here include drainage, solid and liquid manure, trenching, crop rotation and crop diversity. With such practical agricultural advice it was thought possible that crofters and cottars could increase food production and their quality of life. They would therefore be able to support themselves in the long-term.
A strong candidate as original author or contributor to this hand sheet is Dr John Mackenzie of Eileanach (1803-86).** Mackenzie was Honorary Secretary and an active member of the Society from the beginning. A fluent Gaelic speaker (MacGillivray 2013, p. 83), he was part of a forward-looking landowning family, the Mackenzies of Gairloch and Conon.
His father, Sir Hector Mackenzie (1758-1826), took an active role in the management of his estate, and encouraged his sons to do the same. His eldest brother, Sir Francis Mackenzie (1798-1843), was ‘a well-informed, enthusiastic agricultural improver’ when he inherited the estate (ibid., p. 84). He wrote a substantial manual, published in Gaelic and English, on agricultural and other improvements, Hints for the use of Highland Tenants and Cottagers (1838) (Text 196). Following the latter’s mental breakdown and early death, Dr John Mackenzie took charge of the estate as factor-trustee in 1843, until his nephew, Sir Kenneth Smith Mackenzie (1832-1900) (see Text 219), came of age (ibid., pp. 84-85).
It was during this period, between 1843 and around 1852 (Mackenzie 1988, p. 258), that Mackenzie tried to implement a series of changes in the estate which have been called the ‘Gairloch experiment’ (MacGillivray 2013, p. 83). This was an attempt to move crofters away from the runrig system, and the use of the cas-chrom (the foot-plough), towards a modernised, scientific approach to cultivation and husbandry which would maximise food production (ibid., p. 90, p. 93). Influenced by la petite culture of Northern France and Belgium (ibid., pp. 90-91), it was small-scale but intensive agriculture, and included the methods advocated in An Dara Rabhadh Bliadhnail: draining, trenching, the introduction of new crops, crop rotation, etc. Indeed, the contents of this hand sheet are very similar to those of a later work written in English by Mackenzie, Croft Cultivation (1885) (Text 89), published with a Gaelic translation.
If the ‘Gairloch experiment’ was the embodiment of the Scottish Patriotic Society’s aims — and referred to in its publications (e.g. Industrial Magazine 1847, pp. 18-19) — it was not an overall success (cf. Mackenzie 1988, pp. 257-258, 276-277). Whilst Mackenzie strongly believed that the crofting population could support itself without emigrating, he nonetheless took a top-down approach to improvement. In a revealing passage of his memoirs, he states that he and his late brother, Francis, held the same views on agricultural changes:
Only he thought they [i.e. the crofting tenants] merely wanted information, while I knew, and would soon have shown him, that they required also to be compelled to crop their land rationally (Mackenzie 1988, p. 251).
This policy of compulsion resulted in distrust and, by his own admission, resistance from the crofters themselves (e.g., ibid., p. 249, p. 251). When Sir Kenneth Mackenzie took control of the estate around 1852, he adopted a more relaxed management style and the ambitious improvements of previous years appear to have been dropped (Byam Shaw in ibid., p. 277).
* From around 1850 this became the Royal Patriotic and Industrial Society of Scotland (Glasgow Herald 1850). We also find the form ‘Royal Patriotic Society of Scotland’ (e.g. MacGregor 1849).
** It should be noted that were Dr John Mackenzie the author of An Dara Rabhadh Bliadhnail, the text would have been written first in English and translated to Gaelic. Although Mackenzie spoke Gaelic, he was not a capable Gaelic writer (Byam Shaw in Mackenzie 1988, p. 419).
Contents This is one large sheet of information, in Gaelic only, intended to be circulated among crofters and cottars for educational purposes.
It begins with the title of the organisation behind the text in large, bold capital letters: ‘COMUNN DUCHAIL NA H-ALBA’. Following this is the title of the hand sheet in smaller mixed letters — ‘An dara Rabhadh Bliadhnail do Luchd Aiteachaidh na Gaeltachd’ — and in slightly larger bold capital letters the specific topic at hand: ‘AIR AITEACHADH CHROITEAN AGUS GHARAIDHEAN’.
There are then two quotes in praise of the work of the Scottish Patriotic Society in small font. The first quote is by ‘AN T-URRAMACH, DR M‘LEÒID, GHLASCHO’ — this was the Rev. Dr Norman MacLeod (‘Caraid nan Gàidheal’, 1783-1862). The second is by ‘DR CHALMERS’ — i.e. the Rev. Dr. Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847). Both were highly respected religious figures.
The main body of the sheet contains three columns of small mixed text in paragraphs outlining advice on different aspects of cultivation and husbandry. The main agricultural methods are given in italic font, e.g. Claiseachadh, Innear Theann, Innear Bhog etc. Italic font is also used for occasional English terms used, e.g. ‘an Dara-mios (February)’. Two small diagrams are included to explain trenching.
The text is introduced by extolling the benefits that Highland cultivators received from lessons contained in the previous hand sheet, put out by the Society around a year before. In the conclusion the authors seek the blessing of the Almighty (an Uile Chumhachdaich), and ask that rich and capable parties (muinntear chomasach, bheartach) will help them in their work.
After the text, the name of the Society appears again, partly in capital letters and partly italicised —‘COMUNN DÙCHAIL, na h-Alba’ — as well as a place and date in italics — ‘Dunedinn, Sraid a’ Phrionnsa, An Ceud-Mios, 1848’, i.e. Edinburgh, Princes Street, January 1848.
Language Although likely translated from English, the language of this text is clear and successfully explains a number of technical methods for improving cultivation. Agricultural information of this kind was not commonly published in Gaelic. Many interesting terms and phrases are present, sometimes with English clarification in brackets. An expository text, we find some features of a formal register, such as the use of the passive voice — e.g., tionndaidhear, buaintear, Nìtear, ás an tugar, Faodar. However, a more familiar tone is also in evidence through the use of the informal command, prepositional pronoun, and pronoun: e.g., thoir, Suidhich, Beachdaich, An-deigh dhuit, Air dhuit, Faodaidh tu.
Crop terminology includes the following: ‘neupan’, ‘bitis’, ‘mangul-ursal’ (a Gaelicisation of the German Mangelwurzel, also known as ‘the fodder beat’), càl, càl Uorc, currana, currana geala, currana Belgianach, a’ phònair, no ’pheasair, gràine de ’n pheasair Easbuigeich, slat bhuntata, stoc de chàl, fàrusgagan Ierusalem, ros no planntana an fheòir Thusagaich (‘tussock grass’), seogal, Bàrr tròm seogail, barr tròm de fhéur-cuir Eadailteach (‘Italian ryegrass’), buntàta luatharach, sgoiltean (‘potato seed’), meacana (cf. meacan), lìatus, léigisean. Both cal Drumheadde chàl mòr (drumhead) — and Lucerne (also known as alfalfa) are examples where the English term is used.
Language relating to agriculture and gardening more generally includes: croitear no gàradair (‘crofter or gardener’, cf. gàirnealar), a’ togail caochla bărra, tuathanas a’ chaibe, inneir fhliuch, bearradh gòrm, biadhadh prasaich, Claiseachadh (‘drainage’), Innear Theann (‘solid manure’), Innear Bhog (‘liquid manure’), le innearachadh teann, le innearachadh bhog, dreabhas (cf. modern spelling, drabhas) in dreabhas air feadh an tighe, Cladhach, (trenching.), cladhach leis a’ chaibe (‘spade trenching/digging’), cladhach a’ chrùinn, seasaidh agus lòdaichidh an t-uisge, a mhathachadh an fhùinn, fuairichidh, millidh agus grodaidh è freumhan do phlàntana, faodar breath de thalamh tròm a chur thairis orra, dà bhéum no da [sic] spaid air doimhne (‘two cuts or two spades in depth’), aspalte, clach ’us aol, no criadh, barradh (‘wheelbarrow’), cùidhlig sìos è, iomair (‘ridge of land’), luibhean fad-fhreumhach, ùine barrachaidh (‘cropping time’), Barrachadh lionmhor, no barr an-deigh barr (‘multiple cropping or crop rotation’), riadh (‘drill of seeds’) in Cuir dà riadh sheogail eadar gach sreath, leis a’ phleadhaig (‘with the dibber/dibble’) in suidhich pònair leis a’ phleadhaig, air gach sreath bhuntàta trì troidhean o ’cheile, ath-shuidheachadh (‘replant’) in Féumar è so, ath-suidheachadh a-rìst gu-cùramach, leabaidh (‘plant bed’) in tog stoc de chàl drumhead ás a leabaidh, neadachadh (‘embed’) in a neadachadh na h-ùire ri freumhan an stuic, séasan (‘growing season’) in aig ceànn an t-séasan, aig ceann uachdarach a’ mhìr thalamhainn (‘at the upper end of the patch of earth’), aig a’ cheànn ìochdarach, ann an taobh urrad a’ mhìr (‘far/yonder side of the patch’), Air dhuit do thalamh a dheagh chlaiseachadh, ’innearachadh agus a chladhach, boglaich in Faodar tuilleadh talamhainn agus boglaich a chur ris. Two terms are sometimes given for clarity, e.g. claisean no guitearan (‘drains or gutters’), forc no gobhlag (‘fork or graip’).
A few terms relating to husbandry, specifically breeding rabbits: boc agus dà rabaid bhoirionn, sìolaichidh ìad gu dlù (‘they [the rabits] will multiply densely’), boicnean nan rabaid.
The names of calendar months are given as follow: An Ceud-Mios, an Dara-mios (February.), Anns a’ Mhàrt (n.b. instead of an Treas-mìos), anns a’ Cheathramh-mios (April), ’s a’ Mhàigh (n.b. instead of an Còigeamh-mìos), air an t-Seathamh-mios (June,), ’s an Ochdamh-mìos (August.), an Naodhamh-mìos (September,), air an Deicheamh-mìos (October,).
Like the examples of the months above, English translation is occasionally given in brackets: Cladhach, (trenching), dh-ionnsuidh chòmhnuird (level), de chàl mòr (drumhead). An example where the standard English is used alone is Lucerne.
Some of the expressive idioms used are: fhuaradh fìor chinnteas air so (‘certain proof was found of this’), Beag no mòr mar tha agad, tha an Comunn Dùchal le mòr dhùrachd a’ tairgse nan seòlaidhean a leanas, stuth an tighe dhiomhair (‘the stuff of the privy’), a ta an lòrg sin gu-tric a’ fulang droch shlàinte (‘that often because of that suffer from bad health’), fàsaidh è gle bhras, an càinnt an t-Sasannaich’ (‘English’), Thoir so fainear, mar chaidh shéoladh [sic] cheana (‘as was instructed previously’), tog a-mach è a-lìon spaid ’us spaid (‘lift it out spade by spade’), faodar ’fheuchainn mar-so (‘one can observe it as follows’), Do-bhrìgh gu’m beil an t-uisg, gu-tric, a’ sìolaidh sios brìghmhorachd an fhùinn gu ’ìochdar (‘because the water often filters the goodness of the soil down to the bottom’), chum agus gu’n ruig feumhan nam planntan air brigh na talamhainn [sic] (‘so that the plant roots reach the goodness of the soil’), cumail suas brìghmhorachd [sic] an fhùinn (‘maintaining the vitality of the soil’), féumaidh tu comas a thoirt do ’n talamh air do bhàrr a bheathachadh, le biadh freagarrach a thoirt dà (‘you need to allow the soil to nourish your crops, by giving it suitable food’), air a’ char mu-dheireadh, gun dad a’ dhinneadh a dheanamh air (‘without pressing at all on it’), cha chuir è amaladh air fàs a’ bhuntàt ì [sic] (‘it won’t impede the potatoes growing’), fo bhrod mathachaidh, agus ceart thuathanas (‘with excellent enrichment and right cultivation’), Chomhairlicheamaid dhòibh, féumail do mhòran, nach urrainn ruigheachd air làn beòil de dh-fheòil, Rachadh na stuthan sin a mheasgachadh ’an ceànn a cheile (‘let those things be mixed together’), còmhnadh a dheanamh rùinn, chum staid a chosnaich ath-leasachadh.
Other miscellaneous terms worth noting are: na cosnaich in na croitearan agus na cosnaich (i.e. ‘the crofters and the labourers/cottars’) — also appearing, for example, in a translation of the title of The Industrial Magazine itself, MIOSACHAN A’ CHOSNAICH (i.e. ‘the Labourer’s Monthly’) — DÙCHAIL (i.e. ‘patriotic’, in this case) in COMUNN DÙCHAIL na h-Alba, a’ gnàthachadh (i.e. ‘use’, cf. cleachdadh) in a’ gnàthachadh spaidean leathann domhainn, balachan mic (i.e. ‘helper boy’) in faodaidh balachan mic an ùir ìochdarach a bhriseadh suas le forc, eanaraich (i.e. ‘soup’, cf. brot), spot in Is còir do ’n Chroitear spot ullachadh.
Dialect is not clearly represented in this text.
Orthography The orthography of this text conforms to what we would expect from the mid 19th century period.
Grave accents are used frequently: e.g. àit, thàtar, dùcha, dh-fhàsas, ghnàthachadh, càl. Sometimes they appear where we wouldn’t expect them: 1) in pronounsìad, è, , ì; 2) in diphthongspòll, tròm, a’ cheànn, a’ chrànn, a’ chrùinn, an fhùinn, ànn; 3) where we might expect an acute accent — mòr; and where an accent is not justified — lòrg, mhàrgaid, gòrm, also cùimhnìcheadh.
Acute accents appear less often: e.g. A’ Chléir, ás an tugar, an-déigh. They are also used with words with the spelling eu: bhéum, fhéumail, léughadh, fhéur.
However, there is some inconsistencycàl, cal, chál; Nitear, nìtear; bhuntàta, bhuntata; , da; àite, aite; -mìos, -mios; an-déigh, An-deigh; trì, thri — and an absence of accents where we would expect them: ’cheile, lionmhor.
Interestingly, we also find two other diacritical marks: a breve, e.g. bărra, indicating a short vowel; and a diaeresis, e.g. nan Gaël, Gaëltachd (but also Gaeltachd), indicating that the vowel ë is pronounced separately from the preceding vowel.
Apostrophes are found in the following prepositions and conjunctions: o’n, f’ on, ’san, ’s a, do ’n, ’n a dhà, ’an in ’an àit, gu’n soirbhich, gu’n gabh, gu’n do shuidhich, gu’m beil (n.b. unlenited beil), mu’n, de’n. They are also found in two forms in the abbreviated form of the conjunction agus: ’us, e.g. in clach ’us aol, ’s, e.g. in o’n àile ’s o’n talamh; and to replace the masculine possessive pronoun when it follows or precedes a vowel: gu ’ìochdar, ri ’fhréumhan, faodar ’fheuchainn.
Note also: de ’fhàs (cf. de dh’fhàs).
Apostrophes are also common in the examples of contractions below.
Examples of contractions include: ’cheile, è ’nis, na h-àird’-an-ìar, àit air-bith, ás an tug thu ’m buntàta, tha ’n càl, air a’ bhliadhna so ’chàidh.
Some examples of familiar older spelling forms include: so, a bhith, an COMUNN DUCHAIL, na dùcha, cleachdta, caochla, de Bhreatuinn, Sasunnach, Nitear (cf. nithear), talamhainn (cf. talmhainn), Ionar-nis (cf. Inbhir Nis).
Hyphens are found in adverbial phrases: gu-cùramach, Gu-dearbh, gu-h-éifeachdach, gu-co-lionta (cf. gu coileanta); and elsewhere: Do-bhrìgh. Likewise, hyphens are substituted for the apostrophe in dh’: dh-easbhuidh, dh-ionnsuidh, ’dh-fhalbh, do dh-ainmhidh, de dh-fhearann, de dh-acair, de dh-fheòil, but also dh’-fhàsas. This substitution was a spelling innovation initiated by John Mackenzie in his Sar-Obair (1841) (see Black 2010, p. 248).
The above example of hyphen substitution, possibly influenced by Mackenzie, is one marker of a mid 19th century orthographic period.
Other features which suggest an early- to mid-19th century orthographic period are:
– Nominative plurals are inconsistent. We find both older plural forms — meacana, do phlàntana, planntana, currana — and modern plural forms — néupan, freumhan, uinneanan, léigisean.
– The old dative plural is used throughout: ann am briathraibh, o na beathaichibh, o na pòrraibh, do na riaghailtibh.
– The use of other diacritic marks such as the breve and diaeresis, and the enthusiasm for the grave accent — for example, in pronouns and diphthongs.
Edition First edition.
Further Reading Black, Ronald, ‘Gaelic Orthography: The Drunk Man’s Broad Road’, in Moray Watson and Michelle Macleod, eds, The Edinburgh Companion to the Gaelic Language (Edinburgh, 2010: Edinburgh University Press), 248.
Glasgow Herald, ‘Royal Patriotic and Industrial Society of Scotland’ (6 December 1850), [n. p.].
MacGillivray, Neil, ‘Dr John Mackenzie (1803-86): Proponent of Scientific Agriculture and Opponent of Highland Emigration’, Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, 33.1 (2013), 81-100.
MacGregor, Alexander (Rev.), ‘Statements Regarding the Highlands and Islands of Scotland’, The Morning Post (20 August 1849), 7.
Mackenzie, John (Dr); Byam Shaw, Christina, ed., Pigeon Holes of Memory: The Life and Times of Dr John Mackenzie (1803-1886) (London, 1988: Constable).
Scottish Patriotic Society, The Industrial Magazine, No. II, Vol. I (April 1847).
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