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Metadata for text 99
No. words in text13232
Title The Gaelic Songs of the Late Dr. MacLachlan, Rahoy, with Prefatory Biography, edited for the Ardnamurchan, Morven and Suineart Association, by H. C. Gillies
Author MacLachlan, Dr. John
Editor Gillies, H. C.
Date Of Edition 1880
Date Of Language 1850-1899
Publisher Archibald Sinclair
Place Published Glasgow
Volume N/A
Location National, academic, and local (Inverness, Ref.) libraries
Link Digital version created by National Library of Scotland
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Argyll
Register Literature, Verse
Alternative Author Name Iain Mac-Lachain
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 16.6cm x 10.4cm
Short Title Gaelic Songs
Reference Details NLS: H.M.229
Number Of Pages 48
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context Dr. John MacLachlan was born in 1804 at the farm-house in Rahoy. His father’s family were from Dunadd. MacLachlan studied medicine at Glasgow University before returning home to practise medicine in a wide area which included Mull, Morvern, Ardnamurchan, and Sunart. He was extremely well-known and well-liked in the area. Although he enjoyed his work, it was not well paid, and towards the end of his life MacLachlan was often ‘in straitened circumstances’ (p. v).

MacLachlan was a tall, well-built man, and as well as writing poetry and songs, he was also a fine singer. His life was an eventful one, and his student days in particular were ‘enriched by unspeakable resurrectionist adventures’ (p. vi). While conceding that MacLachlan’s songs ‘may not claim equal importance or value with the great hoary epic of Ossian,’ Dr Gillies nevertheless argues that his poems ‘possess several of the best qualities of poetry in such a degree as makes them well worthy of preservation’ (p. viii). He also states that ‘his word paintings are always well toned, never heavy, often charming’ (p. viii), and that ‘some of his passages can compare favourably even with the recognised beauties of Donnacha Bàn’ (p. ix). John MacLachlan died in 1874.
Contents This volume begins with a Preface (pp. iii-x) by the editor (see Social Context above). The main body of the text, Dain Agus Orain (pp. 11-48), contains 24 poems by MacLachlan, 22 of which had been published in An t-Òranaiche the previous year, along with a Marbhrann to MacLachlan by Duncan MacPherson (see Edition below).
Language MacLachlan’s poems and songs may be categorised under the headings of nature, love, elegy and lament. Some of his poems are about the Clearances.

The two songs by MacLachlan that were not published in An t-Òranaiche are Bidh Mi Ga D’ Chaoidh (pp. 42-43) and Seinn An Duan So, Hug Iri Hu O (pp. 43-45). Bidh Mi Ga D’ Chaoidh is a love song, written for a love who is far way at sea: ‘Thoir an t-soraidh, ceud soraidh, thoir an t-soraidh so uam, \ A dh'ionnsuidh nam porta thar osnaich a’ chuain, \ Far an d’ fhàg mi mo leannan, caol-mhala gun ghruaim, \ ’S gur cùbhraidh’ leam d’ anail na ’n caineal ’ga bhuain’ (p. 43). Seinn An Duan So, Hug Iri Hu O (pp. 43-45) is also a love song, written by a love left behind: ‘’S ann Di-Màirte bho cheadh’ Loch-Aluinn, \ A dh’fhalbh mo ghràdh-sa le bàt’ na smuid; \ Bu luath a ceum ’dol gu tìr na Beurla, \ ’S tha mi fo éislean air bheagan sunnd’ (p. 43).

MacLachlan’s language, like his themes, is pretty conventional. He is well-acquainted with the vocabulary and imagery of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Gaelic bards, and deploys them confidently.
Orthography The orthography of this volume (and of the 1869 and 1879 editions of MacLachlan’s works) is typical of the late nineteenth-century Gaelic publications of Archibald Sinclair.
Edition Second edition. The first edition was published by Archibald Sinclair in 1869, under the title Dain agus Orain. Sinclair published a fuller selection of MacLachlan’s poems in An t-Òranaiche. The corpus was further augmented in the second edition (i.e. the present volume), which also incorporates some minor orthographical adjustments. For example, where this volume has Dìreadh ’s a tearnadh (p. 20), ’n àm éiridh (p. 21), and Cha-n (p. 21), An t-Òranaiche has ’Dìreadh ’s a’ tèarnadh (p. 513), ’n am éiridh (p. 515), and Cha’n (p. 515). Editors should check the 1869 and 1879 editions when preparing to excerpt from MacLachlan’s work. A re-issue of the 1869 edition was published in 2009 by Bibliolife (ISBN-2013: 9781116712360).
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