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Metadata for text 288
No. words in text19720
Title The Lost Pibroch and Other Sheiling Stories / Am Port Mor a bha air Chall agus Sgeulachdan Eile
Author N/A (Translated work)
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1913
Date Of Language 1900-1949
Publisher The “Northern Chronicle” Office
Place Published Inverness
Volume N/A
Location National, academic, and local libraries
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Highlands and Islands
Register Literature, Prose
Alternative Author Name N/A
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 18cm x 12cm
Short Title Lost Pibroch
Reference Details NLS: 5.2101
Number Of Pages v, 56
Gaelic Text By Rev. Archibald MacDonald [Kiltarlity] (from English of Neil Munro)
Illustrator N/A
Social Context Neil Munro (1863-1830) was a native of Inveraray, Argyllshire, but spent most of his working life as a journalist in Glasgow. He is best known for his humorous Para Handy Tales to the extent that his more important literary and historical works have been somewhat neglected.
His mother, Anne Munro, was an unmarried kitchen maid at Inveraray Castle; however the identity of his father remains uncertain although rumour relates that he was a member of the aristocratic Argyll family. His death certificate claimed (fictitiously) that his father was James Thompson Munro. Munro’s mother later married Malcolm Thomson, the recently retired Governor of Inveraray Jail, in 1875.
Brought up in the main by his maternal grandparents and an aunt, Munro entered Glencaddie Primary School and then Church Square Public School, leaving at the age of fourteen. The following year he became a junior clerk in the law office of William Douglas at Inveraray. Such an appointment was fairly prestigious and led some to speculate that he may well have had some undisclosed familial connection.
Be that as it may, for the next three years Munro toiled at a job that he came to loathe. Wishing to expand his horizons, Munro, aged eighteen, moved to Glasgow. This was to be the making of him. He found work as a clerk to a potato merchant and then as a cashier for an ironmongers. As an unofficial Glasgow correspondent Munro submitted occasional articles to the Oban Times but it was not until 1884 that he obtained his first journalistic role on the Greenock Advertiser, which folded soon thereafter.
On his return to Glasgow (after a brief eighteenth-month stint on the Falkirk Herald) he soon found work with the Glasgow News, which later became the Glasgow Evening News, the very paper in which Para Handy would make his debut in the Looker-On column a little over a decade later. The next year he married Jessie Ewing Adam, the eldest of the daughters in which he had found lodgings. They had issue of two sons (Hugh and Neil Jnr.) and five daughters (Bud, Jessie, Effie, Lala and Moira). Tragically their eldest son, Hugh, was killed in action at Loos during the First World War.
By the age of thirty-four Munro turned to freelancing so that he could concentrate upon his literary career as well as being guaranteed a regular income. Although an astute move, Munro maintained an ambivalent attitude to journalism which may have been a reflection of his personality. George Blake observed that Munro’s ‘heart and genius were in the writing of romances, and yet his instinct and his talent were for journalism.’
Aside from his humorous stories about Para Handy and historical novels, Munro also contributed the text to an illustrated volume entitled The Clyde: River and Firth (1907). No one was placed better than Munro to place on record his love for this part of the world as the narrative takes a journey form the river’s source at Little Clyde Farm, past the orchards of Lanark, the shipyards of Glasgow, down to the Firth itself in its ‘doon the watter’ heyday, ending with chapters on Loch Fyne and the islands.
George Blake, a family friend and also compiler of The Brave Days (1931), a posthumous anthology of Munro’s autobiographical writings, further observed: ‘There was Neil Munro, the being of delicate sensibility…and there was Hugh Foulis, gay and shrewdly observant of the world about him, who created Para Handy…it was Hugh Foulis that the world, even his friends, encountered. For Neil Munro lurked shy and sensitive behind the protective barrier of laughter and chaff set up by his alter ego.’
In recognition of his literary talent, Munro received the honorary degrees of LL.D. from the Universities of Glasgow and (later) Edinburgh. After initially rebuffing the honour, in 1909 year he also finally accepted the Freedom of Inveraray.
At his home in Craigendoran, Helensburgh, Munro passed away in December 1930, aged sixty-seven. He is buried in Kilmalieu Cemetery, Inveraray, and a monument to his memory was erected by An Comunn Gàidhealach in Glen Aray in 1935, where appears ‘Sàr Litreachas’―‘Excellent Literature,’ is carved in stone. Some obituary notices claimed he was the successor of Robert Louis Stevenson; with one critic describing him as ‘the greatest Scottish novelist since Sir Walter Scott.’ However, since his death his historical romances faded from view (with the exception of his last novel The New Road) partially due to the archaic style in which they were written, but he will always be fondly remembered as the creator of Para Handy and the rest of the colourful crew who manned the Vital Spark.
The Lost Pibroch was his first collection of short stories, mostly set in the seventeenth century. Guided by his love of Argyll and Gaelic tradition, Munro set out to break the hold of the Kailyard school and to present a more realistic account of the Highlands and it people. The collection consists of twelve tales (only four of which are given in the Gaelic translation). Superficially they give the appearance of tales recited from oral tradition and it is natural that Munro chose this narrative device as it was the dominant prose genre in Gaelic literature of his time. On closer examination, the style is clearly more literary and has a far tauter structure and has many incidents of bitter irony. The setting for each of the dozen stories is localised as many of them take place in the area around Inveraray, especially Glen Aray.
[N.B. Editors may wish to check whether all of the dozen stories were translated and if they appeared in The Northern Chronicle and also if there might well be changes to the text when it was published in book format.]
The Rev. Dr. Archibald MacDonald (1855-1948) was born in Harris of Uist ancestry. Minister at Kiltarlity, Inverness-shire. Highland genealogist, translator and Gaelic prose writer. Collaborated in A. and A. MacDonald, The Uist Collection (Glasgow: Archibald Sinclair, 1896); The Chief of the Clan Donald: Who Is He?: Note, in Protest, Against the Finding in “Clan Donald” (London: For private circulation, [1905]); MacDonald Collection of Gaelic Poetry (Inverness: Northern Counties Newspapers and Printing Co., 1911), and 1924.
Contents The text begins with a ‘Prefatory Note’ (p. iii) in which the translator explains that the Gaelic translation has been serialised from The Northern Chronicle. He also states that it is the intention to issue the whole of The Lost Pibroch and Other Sheiling Stories, in three sections. There is no indication from the short introduction of how the act of translation was handled by the translator. The text is divided into four chapters: 1) ‘Untitled’ (pp. 5-21); ‘Lamh Dhearg’ (pp. 22-30); ‘Eolas Leann an Fhraoich’ (pp. 31-40); and ‘Clann Bhoboon’ (pp. 41-56). There is no further indication whether any of the remaining two sections were ever published, however, the whole translation is likely to have appeared in The Northern Chronicle.
Sources First edition of The Lost Pibroch (1896) by Neil Munro.
Language The language of this text may best be described as influenced by a story-telling register in that Munro was attempting to create a Gaelic atmosphere for his literary endeavours especially in his historical novels.
Throughout the text appears numerous titles for pieces of ceòl mòr with the occasional use of piping terminology: ‘Sheas e air a luirgnean, bodach caol dìreach, agus an dos mór a’ ruigeachd, ach beagan, gun a sparraibh gaoithe. Lion e am mala le aon séideag, agus chuir e gaoirdean leannain mu ’n cuairt air. Tha call cridhealais air na duine nach d’ fhairich màla na pìoba riamh ’na achlais. Tha e caomh, cruinn, mar chneas òighe, càirdeil, blàth ann a lùb na h-uillne agus ris an t-slios, agus tha subhachas no dèoir ’na fhàgadh.’ (p. 10).
Occasionally the passive voice appears in the text, e.g., deanar (p. 5), nach facas (p. 17).
Older spellings appear throughout the text, e.g., stigh (p. 5), uamhasach (p. 5), farsuing (p. 6), a mach (p. 6), tabhunn (p. 7), dorus (p. 7), dhuit (p. 7), Mata (p. 8), air son (p. 8), Cia mar (p. 9), leathunn (p. 11), oidheirp (p. 11), Thallud (p. 18), c’arson (p. 19), seachduin (p. 21), fheadhain (p. 21), C’àit’ air bith (p. 21), fhrith-ròidean (p. 20), oil-thigh (p. 23), co-dhiubh (p. 25), focal (p. 28), Unndruim (p. 31), Eirionnach (p. 21), fanoid (p. 36), ’nuair (p. 41), turus (p. 46), bu mhò (p. 47), thubhairt (p. 51), rud-éiginn (p. 53), solus (p. 56).
There are some inconsistent spellings, e.g., biodhmaid a bogadh nan gad (p. 18) but also bitheamaid (p. 18).
At times there appears to be a clear influence of English in the text, e.g., phuinnsanaich a bhean ìnntinn (p. 28), Chrìth Uilleam mar gu ’m biodh duilleach (p. 39), Thug e chon an òil (p. 53).
Occasionally there are some inconsistencies in the use of the apostrophe, e.g., arsa (p. 17) and ars’ (p. 19).
Intrusive use of the apostrophe also appears, e.g., anns a’ h-uile port (p. 8).
The copula is realised as: Ma ’s ann mar so (p. 7), ’s e (p. 36).
Other spellings worthy of note are among the following: mar a (p. 38) instead of mura, seathnar (p. 20) rather than sianar, ciod is ciall da (p. 19), do ’n (p. 5), o’n (p. 5), groda (p. 50), clais’neach (p. 51), gus nach d’ fhagadh (p. 35), thig air d’ ais (p. 49), B’ fhearr leam d’ fhaicinn (p. 54), boneid (p. 14), dh’ fheadairaichd (p. 37), ’nan tachradh dhoibh (p. 12), ’ga innse (p. 9), eilein gu eilein (p. 6), reidhlein (p. 15), ciochairein (p. 15), fanear (p. 15), a bhi (p. 5), la ’r na mhaireach (p. 15), ann a’ Muideart (p. 13), fuathasach (p. 13).
Inconsistent use of accents, e.g., Co (p. 5), triuir (p. 5), triùir (p. 12), la (p. 20).
Lack of hyphen, e.g.: an diugh (p. 5).
Occasional use of contraction, e.g., tigh ’n (p. 7), tigh’n (p. 24).
Occasional use of dative plurals, e.g. crannaibh (p. 6), beanntaibh (p. 11), casaibh (p. 12), h-adharaibh (p. 15), laithibh (p. 23), sùilibh (p. 51).
There are very occasional typographic errors, e.g. pìobaireachl (p. 20), da fichead (p. 33), amadainn (p. 38), Féill Chill-Mhichail (p. 48), fhìos (p. 54), but they do not affect the understanding of the text.
There appears to be few rare or unusual words such as spagluinn (p. 42).

The text may reflect the Gaelic dialect of Uist.
Orthography The orthography conforms to the early twentieth century whereby the grave and acute are retained. No accents are shown on capital letters.
Edition First edition. Another Gaelic translation by G. Mac Dhomhnuill appeared later: Munro, Neil, Am Port Mór a bha air a Chall, agus Sgeulachdan Eile na h-Àiridh (Inbhirnis: Comunn Foillseachaidh na h-Airde-Tuath, [1934?]).
Further Reading Anon., ‘Obituary Rev. Dr Archd. McDonald, late of Kiltarlity’, The Northern Chronicle, no. 3501 (4 Feb, 1948), 3.
Lamont, Donald, ‘“Athair na h-Eaglais” [Obituary of Dr Archibald MacDonald]’, Life & Work (Gaelic Supplement), no. 3 (March, 1948), 7-8.
Lendrum, Lesley, Neil Munro: The Biography (House of Lochar, 2004).
Munro, Neil, The Lost Pibroch and Other Sheiling Stories (Colonsay, 1996: House of Lochar).
Murchison, Thomas M., ‘The Late Dr. Archibald MacDonald: Preacher, Pastor, Scholar’, An Gàidheal, Leabh. XLIII, earr. 6 (Am Màrt, 1948), 73.
Thomson, Derick (ed.), The Companion to Gaelic Scotland (Glasgow, 1994: Gairm), 166.
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