Reference Number70
TitleOiteagan o’n Iar (Breezes from the West)
AuthorMacCormick, John
EditorMac Phàrlain, Calum
Date Of Edition1908
Date Of Languageearly 20c
Date Of Language Ed1900-1949
DateMacroEarly 20th c.
Date Of Language Notes
PublisherAlexander Gardner
Place PublishedPaisley
LocationNational, academic and local libraries (Highland)
Geographical OriginsMull
Geographical Origins EdMull
GeoMacroMull, Coll and Tiree
Geographical Origins Notes
RegisterLiterature, Prose
Register EdLiterature, Prose
A collection of 8 short stories on a variety of subjects.
The author aims at a story-telling style throughout the text.
Contains vocabulary relating to mills, illicit stills, court cases, and piping.
Contains much direct speech.
The author’s turn of phrase is often very descriptive.
Alternative Author NameIain MacCormaig
Manuscript Or EditionEd.
Size And Condition18.7cm x 13.2cm
Short TitleOiteagan o’n Iar
Reference DetailsNLS: T.89.g
Number Of Pages149, plus 9 page list of other books by the same publisher
Gaelic Text ByN/A
Social ContextAlthough born in Mull, John MacCormick spent most of his life in Glasgow. He wrote a number of books, short stories, and plays in Gaelic. His stories are mostly adventure stories, and he was strongly influenced by the narrative styles of traditional story-telling. His other works include the novel Gun D’Tug I Spéis Do’n Armunn, also published in 1908; Dun-Aluinn no an t-Oighre ’na Dhiobarach, published in 1912 (Text 64); and An t-Agh Odhar. The Dun Heifer: a Humorous Gaelic Sketch, published in 1931.
ContentsThis volume begins with a Clàr-Ìnnsidh (p. 7). The main body of the text contains eight short stories as follows:

Am Bàillidh Mabach ’s am Muillear Crotach (pp. 9-30): This first story concerns the attempts of a confused Baillie trying to catch out the local miller whom he suspects of housing an illicit still in his kiln.

Troimh Chruadal (pp. 31-50): This story concerns a kindly Laird whose wife was presumed drowned when the ship on which they were travelling home sank. The Laird returns home to find his estate in debt and the story finds him reading a letter which states that the time has arrived for him to pay his debts and that his life is soon to be in danger. He sends his servant, Calum, on a long and dangerous journey to speak to the debt collectors in order to save his life. This being done, the Laird eventually finds that his wife is alive and well and living nearby.

An Réiteachadh Rathail (pp. 51-85): This story is written in the form of a play. It centres around a court case where Iain Bàn a’ Phuirt is on trial for breaking his engagement with Màiri nighean Alasdair mhóir. As their neighbours take turns to give evidence, it turns out that Eachann, a friend of both Iain and Màiri, wanted to marry Màiri himself, and set the couple up to believe that they did not love each other any more.

“’S Leam Féin an Gleann” (pp. 86-99): This story centres round the deer forest on an estate in Gleann-a’-chaorainn. Not only do the gentlemen frequently visit for the deer-stalking, but also to court the lovely Màiri. Màiri’s heart is set on Iain Bàn Pìobaire, however, and she turns all other suitors away. Iain eventually leaves, becoming a piper in the Black Watch, travelling the world, and gradually losing touch with Màiri. Before he leaves, however, he and Màiri go to a special place in the glen and he tells her that when she hears him playing ’S Leam Féin a’ Ghleann, he will have returned. Iain becomes rich (having sold a large gemstone he picked up on his travels), and although much time has passed, and he does not know whether Màiri is alive or whether she has married another, he has a desire to go home. He notices the estate for sale in a London newspaper, buys it, and travels north. Arriving home, nobody recognises him. His mother is overcome with joy when she realises who the stranger is and he proceeds to the glen where he begins playing ’S Leam Féin a’ Ghleann. Màiri hears him, and in the end they marry.

Am Togail nan Creach (pp. 100-13): In this story, the author is in Mull where he meets an old shepherd who used to be a sailor. A crowd gathers as the shepherd begins to tell the story of the most danger he has ever been in. He and some friends had arranged to go shooting to a distant forest. He travels there the night before, and when he stops for the night he is visited by a strange man claiming to be the son of a well-known piper. The man plays him a tune which he never forgets. Continuing on, he comes across his friend, tied up under a bush by some robbers. The story follows the two men as they escape and find their friends.

Calum an Oir (pp. 114-23): This is the story of how Calum an Oir got his name. It happened when Calum was invited aboard a ship to help its master bring her safely to harbour, only to be kidnapped by the captain, who treated him like a slave before abandoning him in a distant place. Here he is befriended by one of the town’s important citizens, also a Gael, who orders the captain of the ship to pay Calum the money he was owed for the time he spent working aboard the ship. He gets the money and eventually returns home.

Driodfhortan Eachainn Sheòladair (pp. 124-34): This story is set in the taigh-céilidh where Eachann Seòladair tells the story of the most danger he has ever been in. The story follows him as a young sailor to New Orleans, Australia, and Demerara. During his travels, he is nearly killed by a group of men who tie him to a tree in the wood where they are camping and rig a gun to go off if the horse to which it was attached moves. Eachann manages to escape and reports the incident. The men are wanted by the law, and Eachann is awarded the reward money.

Oighre ’n Dùin-Bhàin (pp. 135-49): This story follows a young laird who has fled the country, having been told that the piper with whom he has recently quarrelled and fought has died. He wanders for years doing various odd jobs, is marooned on an African island for four years, and finally travels to Australia and to Ballarat where he makes a fortune in the gold mines. After twenty-four years away from home, he ends up in the house of a stranger. It turns out that the stranger is the piper whom he supposed to have died. It was the laird’s cousin who had informed him of the death, in order to get the laird to leave the country, so that he would have the estate himself.
SourcesIn a footnote on the first page of stories 4, 6, 7, and 8, the author writes ‘Le cead a’ Chomuinn Ghaidhealaich’. There is no indication, however, of when or where the stories might have been published previously.
LanguageThese stories are a useful source for a number of different types of vocabulary. The first story contains words and phrases relating to mills and stills, e.g. a’ gléidheadh briuthais anns a’ mhuileann (p. 10), a’ phoit dhubh (p. 11), gu ’n robh fàileadh a’ chaochain á toit na h-àtha fhéin (p. 11), ag aithneachadh blas an eòrna mhóir a chinn an àtach a’ bhuntàta an achadh an t-sruthain (p. 11), buideal cabhraich (p. 14), Cha robh pige no botul falamh ’san dall-uinneig no ’n àite fo chromadh an tighe nach robh làn de dh’uisge-beatha (p. 14), le d’ roth mór, ’s le d’ thrabhailt, ’s le d’ àith (p. 16), and also coltas muilinn-shàbhaidh.

Some words and phrases relating to court cases can be found in An Réiteachadh Rathail (pp. 51-85), e.g. Tha a’ chùis ri bhi air a tagradh air beulaibh an t-siorraim le fear tagraidh sgiobalt air gach taobh (p. 51), gu ’n deach an cléireach beagan am mearachd (p. 51), an luchd-breith (p. 52), an luchd-tagraidh (p. 52), and na fianuisean (p. 52).

Some words and phrases relating to piping occur in Am Togail nan Creach (pp. 100-13), e.g. Thòisich e agus meur bu ghloine air feadan cha chuala mise riamh. ‘Sud agad an t-ùrlar,’ ars esan; agus an ceann greis: ‘Sud agad an siubhal;’ ’s a rithis, ‘an siubhal sleamhainn;’ ‘an taor-lùth;’ ’s mar sin air aghaidh, a h-uile pìos de ’n phort gu ruig an crunn-lùth breabach (p. 106).

Also of interest is the author’s richly descriptive style. For example, we find cho seòlta ri aon sionnach a thàinig riamh a shealg air grunnan ghèadh a bhiodh ’nan laighe air an dùnan (p. 12), Cha robh duine fo chromadh an tighe nach robh aig an dorus còmhla (p. 19), am measg gaorr nan tonn druimneach, gàireach a bha casadh an sgor-fhiaclan geala ris, agus a’ bagairt a shlugadh suas [...] (p. 34), Bha Iain ’na ghille cho deas, dìreach, smiorail ri aon mhac màthair a sheas riamh air bonn bròige; ’s an uair a dh’éideadh se e-féin ’s an deise Ghaidhealaich, bu shealladh shùl e do dh’ ìslean ’s do dh’uaislean anns gach cuideachd ’sam bitheadh e (p. 87), Bha na rionnagan a’ caogadh ’s a’ priobadh troimh gach uinneig bh’ aig an speur, ’s a’ tilgeadh an gathan geala soluis a nuas air monadh ’s air srath (p. 95), Thuit Seumas bàn ’na ghlag air an ùrlar (p. 138), Bha ùb-àb feadh an tighe (p. 138).

A number of the stories are told in a story-telling style. This is exemplified in such expressions and phrases as Agus ’s ann dhà a b’ fhìor (p. 12), chionn bha e cho spìocach ’s a bha e cho bradach (p. 15), le ’r cead (p. 15), ’s fhiach naidheachd mhaith éisdeachd agus fuireach rithe (p. 102), ’s nuair tharruing e ceò as a’ chutaig (p. 102), Fad chóig mionaidean bha “beir, cha bheir” aca oirnn (p. 112), Dh’fhàg sinn an sin là maith aig a chéile (p. 113), Sin agaibh a nis (p. 134), agus thachair sin (p. 149).

Some of the stories contain much direct speech, as in “A shean shlaightire bhradaich,” arsa Màiri anns a’ cheud chrathadh ris (p. 17), Ubh, ùbh (p. 18), ciod è ghluais ort an nochd? (p. 19), Ochòin, ochòin! (p. 31), “Th’ ann dìreach mi fhéin,” arsa Calum (p. 37), Cuir dhiot, a laochain, ’s dèan thu féin aig an tigh (p. 38), Cha ’n eadh idir (p. 38), An dà (p. 38), ach, ma dh’fhaodas mise ’n diugh (p. 53), ’s leat dà cheann an tighe (p. 96), mur a mìobhail a’ cheisd i (p. 105), a ghalaidean (p. 111), and A chlann an uilc (p. 111).

The following words and wordings are also of interest: màl na leth-bhliadhna so chaidh (p. 15), t’ ìnnleachdan ’s do thratan (p. 18), Thug “Cruachan” [an cù] grunnsgal ’s thog e colg (p. 36), Rinn e athghoirid thar Loch-odha (p. 41), a’ smutail (p. 44), snaidheadair (p. 86), Bu tric a bhiodh a sean athair am feirg rithe (p. 87), Bha an grioglachan air dol an iar, ’s an crann-arair gu car a chur (p. 107), le luchd-reubainn (p. 143), and robairean (p. 143).
OrthographyThe author’s dialect may be reflected in the frequent use of aon to qualify a noun, e.g. Ach aon latha sin (p. 14) and aon chiall-seunaidh (p. 32), and in the use of terms such as a’ bhraoisg (p. 10), tuille ’s tric (p. 10), fuathasach (p. 16), air uairean (p. 16), A bhàrr air (p. 34), Bha ’n cruisgean dubh gu dreòsach an crochadh ri posta na leapach (p. 16), deir esan (p. 32), air guala a sheirbhisich (p. 32), osann rather than osna (p. 33), a rithis (p. 36), a’ dol air aghaidh (p. 96), maith dh’fhaoidteadh (p. 114), air tàilleamh (p. 121), thuit e ’m preathall (p. 127), an drideart (p. 137), and ’Na dhéigh sin (p. 148). The impersonal-passive form of the imperfect-conditional tense ends in -teadh, e.g. chluinnteadh (p. 10), f(h)aighteadh (p. 10), dèanteadh (p. 31), leòinteadh (p. 32). An intrusive -t- appears in smaointich mi (p. 126).

The orthography is typical of the early twentieth century.
EditionFirst edition.
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