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Metadata for text 26
No. words in text35881
Title Oighreachd agus Gabhaltas
Author N/A (Anthology)
Editor MacAmhlaigh, Dòmhnall
Date Of Edition 1980
Date Of Language 1950-1999
Publisher Roinn an Fhoghlaim Cheiltich, Oilthigh Obar-Dheadhan (Celtic Department, University of Aberdeen)
Place Published Aberdeen
Volume N/A
Location National and academic libraries
Geographical Origins Various
Register Literature, Prose
Alternative Author Name Donald MacAulay
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 21.5cm x 14cm
Short Title Oighreachd agus Gabhaltas
Reference Details GUL Economics D516 MACAM
Number Of Pages vi, 62
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context This book contains seven essays about the land agitations which took place in the Hebrides in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The idea for the book arose when three of the essays won a competition organised by Comunn nan Leabhraichean Gàidhlig. It was then decided to collect four more essays and to prepare all seven for publication. The essays examine the land agitations that took place on six islands: Bernera, Lewis, Skye, Tiree, Vatersay, and North Uist and are presented in this volume in chronological order beginning with the Bernera Riot of 1874 and ending with the taking of Balranald just after the First World War.
Contents This volume begins with a short Roimh-radha (pp. v-vi) which explains the background to the book and introduces some of the recurrent themes brought up in the essays, such as shortage of land, high rents, and the high-handedness with which the people were treated by the landowners and their subordinates.The seven essays are as follows:

‘Aramach am Beàrnaraigh …’ 1874 (pp. 1-11): This chapter was written by the editor, Dòmhnall MacAmhlaigh (DMA). It details the incidents leading up to, and the consequences of, the Bernera Riot of 1874 when the people of Bernera stood against the Lewis factor, Donald Munro, and famously won the ensuing court case. In 1872, the crofters of Bernera had some of their grazing land taken from them and turned into a deer forest. They were offered, in its place, a smaller piece of land which they had to fence off from the surrounding forest. In late 1873 the crofters of Bernera were ordered to remove their stock from this grazing land, and when they contested the order, Munro ordered the eviction of the island’s 56 crofters. After a number of confrontations between the crofters and the authorities the case went to court. The crofters were found not guilty and charges were subsequently brought against the factor and his messenger, effectively ruining their reputations. This was a landmark case which brought hope to crofters throughout the Highlands and Islands that they could stand up to the injustice of the landowners and win. The Bernera Riot marked the beginning of land agitation throughout the Hebrides and played no small part in the establishment of the Napier Commission and the subsequent Crofters’ Act of 1886.

Blàr a’ Chumhaing agus Cor nan Croitearan an 1882-83 (pp. 12-22): This chapter was written by Iain A. MacDhomhnaill (IMD) and examines the lead-up to, and the after-effects of, the Battle of the Braes, known to many as Blàr a’ Bhràighe and to locals as Blàr a’ Chumhaing (the name of the place where the confrontation took place). During the second half of the nineteenth century, land had been taken away from crofters in Skye to be turned into deer forests. The result was that townships such as Braes became overcrowded as evicted tenants were re-housed. In 1865 grazing land on Beinn Lì was taken from crofters in Braes to be sold to a neighbouring farm. There was no reduction in rent and their complaints to the estate fell on deaf ears. In 1881, many crofters in Braes refused to pay their rent. Within a year the the sheriff officer, his assistant, and the ground officer set out for Braes with summonses for those who had refused to pay. The people of Braes went out to meet them, and in the confrontation which followed, the sheriff officer was made to burn the summonses in front of them. Shortly afterwards a contingency of policemen from Glasgow and Inverness arrived, and they and the sheriff made their way to Braes in the early hours of the morning. The people of Braes, believing that the police were there to evict them, rather than to arrest the perpetrators of the previous confrontation, gathered to face them. As the perpetrators were led away, the people of Braes went after them and began pelting them with stones. A number of people were hurt and the police managed to get away with five prisoners. They were eventually found guilty and fined. By the end of 1882, the people of Braes were given back their grazing land on Beinn Lì although it cost them £64 per year.

Aimhreit an Fhearainn an Tiriodh, 1886 (pp. 23-31): This chapter was written by Dòmhnall Meek (DM), and examines the land struggles that took place on Tiree in 1886. Between 1841 and 1881 the population of the island fell from 4,687 to 2,733 as the Duke of Argyll took land from the crofters to rent as farms. Many crofters were forced to leave the island, while the rest had to suffer overcrowding, high rents, and the high-handedness of the Duke’s bailies. When the Highland Land Law Reform Association was formed in 1883, a branch was set up in Tiree and it soon had 700 members. In 1886, the Association was re-named the Land League and, shortly afterwards, one of the large tacks on the island came up for sale and the crofters put in an offer. It was refused, although the Duke told the League that the next tack to become free would be theirs. This was not to be, however, and there was great scandal when the islanders found out that the owner of the new tack was none other than the head of the Land League in Tiree, Niall Mac Nèill and his brother Lachlann. On the day Lachlann took possession of the tack, members of the Land League met him there, threw him off the land, and brought in their own cattle to graze. The crofters and cotters remained on the tack for two months before the Duke sent a letter saying he would bring in the law to remove them. Edinburgh Sheriff George Nicolson duly arrived on the island with more than 30 policemen and officers from Glasgow. They made their way to Baile-Phuill to put notices under the doors, but beat a hasty retreat when the islanders rounded on them. The policemen left the island only to return shortly afterwards with two naval vessels, a steam boat and 250 soldiers. The notices of removal were delivered and shortly afterwards the rebels left the tack. Six men were arrested for the trouble in Baile-Phuill and they spent a few days in prison in Inveraray before being released. Eight Tiree men were eventually found guilty at the High Court in Edinburgh for preventing the Sheriff from distributing notices of removal and were sentenced to between four and six months in prison in Edinburgh.

Reud na Pàirce, no Creach Mhór nam Fiadh, 1887 (pp. 32-43): This chapter, written by Iain M. MacLeòid (IML), examines the Park Deer Raid of 1887, when tenants from the Lochs district of Lewis raided the deer farm at Park and began killing deer to feed themselves and their families. By 1887 there was widespread poverty throughout the island and rents were high. Tenants, under the leadership of Ballalan school-master Dòmhnall MacRath, decided to take matters into their own hands. Crofters from all over Lochs gathered one night and set up camp in the deer farm. They stayed for some days, killing what deer they needed until the army was brought in and the last of the raiders left the farm. Six men were eventually taken to court – all were found not guilty.

Aimhreit Aignis, 1888 (pp. 44-48): This chapter, written by Iain MacArtair (IMA), gives a description of the events surrounding the trouble at Aignis in Point, Lewis. Fed up with high rents and the lack of land, and mindful of the public eye on happenings amongst the crofters in Lewis, the people of Point sent word to the bailie in Stornoway that they were going to release all of the cattle belonging to MacAlasdair, who held the tack of Aignis. The bailie brought in the army, and at 8am on the morning of 7th January, around 500 islanders gathered above the tack with shinty sticks and stones, prepared to fight if necessary. A fight duly ensued and a number of men were taken captive. They spent the night in Stornoway jail. Some months later, when policemen arrived to take the men to the High Court in Edinburgh, the women pelted them with stones and peat. The army were then sent in to remove the prisoners, who subsequently spent six months in prison in Edinburgh.

Mar a Ghabh na Daoine Bhatarsaigh, 1900-1908 (pp. 49-56): This section was written by Lisa Storey (LS) and describes how the people of Barra took matters into their own hands and settled themselves on the island of Vatersay, which had been taken from them in the mid-nineteenth century to make way for a sheep farm.

By the late nineteenth century, crofters in Barra were desperate for more land. However, despite many appeals to the proprietor and to the Congested Districts Board (CDB), they were left wanting until, in 1900, some crofters decided to take action themselves. A number of crofters settled on land in North Bay, while others went to Vatersay to mark out crofts for themselves. While the CDB bought the land in North Bay and let it to the crofters, they were unable to purchase Vatersay as the asking price was too high. The CDB did manage to purchase some land on the island for crofters to plant potatoes, but the crofters were not satisfied with this and many began building themselves sheds to live in. An interdict was forthcoming. Ten crofters chose to remain on the island and consequently spent six weeks in prison. In 1908 the Government bought the island and it was divided into 58 crofts.

Toirt a-mach Bhaile Ràghnaill, 1919-1921 (pp. 57-62): This section, written by Uilleam MacDhòmhnaill (UMD), discusses the events that led up to the taking of Balranald in North Uist. After the First World War, those soldiers returning to Uist were angered by the shortage of land that awaited them. They had been promised land on their return from the trenches and when this was not forthcoming they approached the Land Court. The Court acknowledged their request for land but, when no more was heard about it, the crofters were encouraged by their local MP to take matters into their own hands. Twelve crofters approached the big house on the tack and explained to the laird what they were about to do. The next day the crofters settled themselves on the land, preparing it for cultivation and taking seaweed which the laird’s servants had gathered for him. The laird’s attempts to remove the crofters from his land failed, and before long he resorted to the law. The men found themselves in court, but some of them were freed to join the Territorial Army. The others spent less than three weeks in Inverness prison. In 1921 the Land Court purchased the Balranald estate and the land was divided among the crofters.
Language This volume contains seven essays, by seven different authors, on the land agitations which took place in the Hebrides in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Some, if not all, of the authors hail from the islands about which they are writing.

The type of vocabulary that appears in this volume covers subjects such as oppression and strife, as well as terminology relating to land issues and crofting. For example, we find terminology relating to the struggle between the crofters and the authorities, such as aimhreit (p. v), còmhstri (p. vi), boil (p. vi), éiginn (p. vi), ailbhe (p. vi), làmhachas-làidir (p. v), cobhair (p. v), oidhirp (p. vi), gus an còraichean a sheasamh (p. vi), casg a chur orra (p. 1), ainneart (p. 1), fàth (p. 1), pàipearan bàirlingidh (p. 3), sumanadh (p. 3), as-onarach, olc (p. 8), maoidh (p. 8), gamhlas (p. 8), ciont (p. 9), tuasaid (p. 10), an-iochd (p. 9), as-urram (p. 9), ceannaircich (p. 14), dòirneagan (p. 15), ulbhag (p. 15), tuaireap (p. 15), aicheamhail (p. 20), éirig (p. 23), aintighearnas (p. 23), bàirlinn (p. 23), tròcair (p. 25), ainbhiach (p. 26), maslachadh (p. 26), roid (p. 28), reubalaich (p. 28), ùpraid (p. 28), reud (p. 32), anradhach (p. 32), creachadairean (p. 35), cruaidh-chàs (p. 38), sgrios (p. 41), iorghail (p. 44), corraich (p. 46), and biodagan (p. 46). Other terminology relates more to crofting and clearance, for example fhuadach (p. 1), a’ fàsachadh (p. 12), clìoradh (p. 51), frìth (p. 2), ainmhidh (p. 2), air ingheilt (p. 2), iomain (p. 13), ceilp (p. 50), coitearan (p. 51), and croitean (p. 51).

Names of official bodies and statutes also appear throughout the text, for example Cùirt an Fhearainn (p. v), Bòrd an Fhearainn (p. 61), Achd nan Croitearan (p. v), and Coimisean Napier (p. v), as do terms used to refer to official persons, such as maor (p. 1), maor-fearainn (p. 3), maor-cìse (p. 3), maoir-sìthe (p. 44), siamarlan (p. 2), and seumarlan (p. 23), earraid (p. 3), gèidsear (p. 3), siorramh (p. 9), oifigeach an t-siorraim (p. 13), polasman (p. 14), fear tagraidh a’ chrùin (p. 14), An Ridire (p. 20), and Diùc (p. 23). Some court terminology also appears, e.g. procadair (p. 9), fianaisean (p. 9), prìosanach (p. 9), ceannard an luchd-breithe (p. 9), and a’ bhinn (p. 42).

Other words and phrases which might be of interest include tromlach (p. 3), air an trobha seo (p. 13), a chum gun … (p. 14), cha bu ruith ach leum leisan (p. 14), bha an ceòl a nise air feadh na fìdhle (p. 14), and toileach (p. 25).

A few lines of poetry have been quoted throughout the text, e.g. some lines from Màiri Mhór appear on pp. 17-18. The text also contains a few quotes from various people. Most, if not all, of these have been translated into Gaelic from English.
Orthography One of the strengths of this book is that the editor has allowed each author to retain his or her own orthographic preferences, thus providing us with some areas of comparison between the written Gaelic of different islands. A number of dialectal differences are apparent. For example, IMA uses dhan and collais, whereas IMD uses do ’n and coltach. IMD has thug … na buinn dhith, whereas DM has chuir … na buinn rithe. Both DMA and DM use the word tuasaid, whereas IMM uses tuaireap. DMA uses mathà, whereas LS uses ma-tà. DM uses seumarlan where other authors use siamarlan. Also of interest is DM’s use of maith, UMD’s spelling of airgiod, and DMA and UMD’s spelling of ag radha.
Edition First edition. Both grave and acute accents have been used throughout the text. The text contains some typing errors, none of which affect the understanding of the text.
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