seaboardgàidhlig

bilingual blog dà-chànanach

Teampaill Angkor Chambodia

Angkor Wat

Bha mi cho fortanach ‘s gun robh cothrom agam saor-làithean a chur seachad ann an Àisia an Ear-dheas san Fhaoilleach. Tha mo bhràthair a’ fuireach ann an Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, agus ‘s ann an sin a bha mi pàirt den ùine, ach shiùbhail mi a Chambodia cuideachd, a dh’aona-ghnothach gus na teampaill de dh’Angkor fhaicinn. Bha mi riamh airson am faicinn, is iad air an liosta-bhucaid agam cuide ri Machu Picchu agus na Pioramaidean, ach cha robh fìor dhùil agam ri dol ann ann an da-rìribh.  ‘S e mo bhràthair a chuir a h-uile rud air dòigh. Agus cha d’fhuair mi briseadh-dùil.

Bayon

Cha robh mi eòlach roimhe gur e baile iongantach mòr a bh’ ann an Angkor sna Meadhan Aoisean, bho mu 900 gu 1500, is prìomh baile na rìoghachd Khmer. Thathar ag ràdh gun robh e, aig àirde a leasachaidh, na bu mhòtha na Paras an-diùgh, le bun-structar adhartach, gu h-àraidh a thaobh uisgeachaidh is drèanaidh – feartan riatanach ann an dùthaich a bhios a’ dol bho mhonsunaichean gu mòr-thiormachd gach bhliadhna. Bha na ficheadan de theampaill chudromach ann, agus gach nì eile a bhuineadh do bhaile mòr.  Bhlàthaich e fo na rìghrean mòra Khmer, gu sònraichte Suryavarnam, a thog Angkor Wat 1113-1150, agus Jayavarman VII (baile Angkor Thom, teampaill Bayon agus Ta Prohm, mu 1200).  Às an dèidh-san chrìon baile agus rìoghrachas nan Khmer thar nan linntean, agus ann an 1431 chreach nàimhdean am baile.

Ta Promh

Ach dè tha ri fhaicinn san latha an-diùgh? Chan eil ach tobhtaichean air am fàgail den mhòr-chuid de na teampaill, ach tha cuid ann fhathast a tha fìor dhrùidhteach – nam meud, nam bòidhchead agus nan staid glèidhteachais. Dh’atharraich an creideamh-stàite bho Hindu gu Budastach thairis air ùine, agus chithear lorgan den dà dhiubh san ailtireachd agus san sgeadachadh.  Thadhail mi air na trì teampaill as ainmeile, còmhla ri neach-iùil Cambodianach fiosrachail.

Angkor Wat

h‘S e Angkor Wat an teampall as mòtha air an t-saoghal, àrd is eireachdail le staing fharsaing agus ballachan làidir ceithir-thimcheall air. Tha Bayon, ann am meadhan baile bhallaich Angkor Thom, aig crìdhe meaga-baile Angkor, ann an stòidhle eile, le aghaidhean fuamhaireil Bhuddha air gach uachdar a’ coimhead a-mach air an diungail. Agus ‘s e Ta Promh, aithnichte tro fhilmichean mar Indiana Jones agus Tomb Raider, am fear as neònaiche. Leis na freumhan silteach snàgaireach a’ fàs thairis air togalaichean is dorsan, tha thu a’ faireachdainn gu bheil an diungail a’ toirt an teampall air ais.

Angkor Wat

Ach a-nis leigidh mi leis na dealbhan bruidhinn leotha fhèin, agus tha mi ‘n dòchas gum bi iad gur brosnachadh a dhol ann sibh fhèin, ma bhios cothrom idir agaibh!

The Angkor Temples of Cambodia

AngkorWat

I was lucky enough to have the chance to spend a holiday in SE Asia in January. My brother lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and that’s where I was based, but I also travelled to Cambodia, specifically to see the Angkor temples. I had always wanted to see them – they’re on my bucket list, along with Machu Picchu and the Pyramids, but I never expected to actually get there. My brother set it all up. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Bayon

I hadn’t known before that Angkor was an incredibly large city in the Middle Ages, from about 900 to 1500, and the capital of the Khmer kingdom. It’s said that at the height of its development it was as big as Paris is today, with an advanced infrastructure, especially regarding irrigation and drainage – essential in a country which goes from monsoons to drought every year. There were scores of important temples there, and everything else a city needed. It flourished under the great Khmer kings, particularly Suryavarnam, who built Angkor Wat 1113 -1150, and Jayavarnam VII (the town of Angkor Prohm, the temples of Bayon and Ta Promh, ca. 1200). After them the city and the Khmer dynasty declined over the centuries, and in 1431 the city was destroyed by enemies.

Ta Promh

But what is there to see nowadays?  There are only ruins of most of the temples, but some have survived which are truly impressive – in their size, their beauty and their state of preservation.  The state religion had gradually changed from Hindu to Buddhist over the centuries, and we see traces of both in the architecture and decoration.  I visited three of the most famous temples, with a knowledgeable Cambodian guide.

Bayon

Angkor Wat is the biggest temple in the world, high and handsome with its broad moat and strong walls all around. The Bayon temple, in the fortified town-centre of Angkor Thom, the heart of the Angkor mega-city, is in a different style, with gigantic Buddha faces gazing out into the jungle from every surface. And Ta Promh, famous from films like Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider, is the most curious. With the flowing, reptilian roots growing over buildings and doorways, you feel that the jungle is taking it back.

Ta Promh

But now I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, and I hope that they will encourage you to go there yourselves, if you ever get the chance!

Aran Mhuileagan

Seo reasabaidh Ameireaganach a fhuair mi bho charaid dhomh, Cam NicRàth.

Tha am milsean blasta furasta seo air a bhith air bùird latha-fèille nan Crathach bho chionn còrr is leth-cheud bliadhna.  Sùghmhor ’s mar a tha e, dh’fhaodadh cèic a bhith air seach aran – tha e cho blasta le ìm no as aonais, gu h-àraidh fhad ’s a tha e blàth fhathast.

Nochd an tionndadh Gàidhlig anns An Naidheachd Againne  4/2016 (An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach http://www.acgamerica.org/ )  – mòran taing dhaibhsan cuideachd airson an cead a chleachdadh an seo!

Criathraich ri chèile:

2 chupa min-fhlùir (320 gr)

1 cupa siùcair (200 gr)

1 ½ spàin-tì pùdair-fhuine

½ spàin-tì sòda-fuine

1 spàin-tì salainn

Coimeasg le do mheuran:

2 spàin-bhùird blonaig, m.e. ìm (40 gr)

Cuir ris agus measgaich ri chèile:

½ chupa chnòthan air an gearradh (60 gr)

2 chupa mhuileagan ùra (220 gr), air an gearradh ann an dà leth

½ chupa dearcan-Frangach (40 gr)

Buail aon ugh agus cuir uisge ris (mu 100 ml) gus am bi ¾ chupa agad

Cuir ris seo, agus

Sùgh agus rùsg liomaide

Measgaich gus am bi a h-uil nì tais.

Fuin ann am pana air a ghriseadh aig 350F / 175C fad 1 – 1 ¼  uair a thìde.

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Fresh Cranberry Loaf

Here’s an American recipe I got from my friend Cam MacRae.

This tasty, easy recipe has been a staple on MacRae family holiday dessert tables for over fifty years. Juicy as it is, it could actually be called a cake rather than a loaf – it’s so delicious with butter or without, especially still warm from the oven.

The Gaelic version first appeared in An Naidheachd Againne 4/2016 (magazine of the American Gaelic Society http://www.acgamerica.org/ ) – many thanks to them too for their permission to use it here!

Sift together:

2 cups flour (320 gr)

1 cup sugar (200gr)

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Rub in:

2 tablesp. shortening, e.g. butter (40 gr)

Add and mix together:

½ cup chopped nuts (60 gr)

2 cups fresh cranberries (220 gr), cut in half

½ cup currants (40 gr)

Beat one egg and add water (c. 100 ml) to make up to ¾ cup

Add this, and

Juice and rind of one lemon

Mix till everything is moist.

Bake in a greased tin at 350F / 175C for 1 – 1 ¼ hours.

 

Note re American cup measures:

An American cup officially holds 240 ml water. If you don’t have a measuring set in US cup units (now available over here – what is the world coming to? 😉 ), use a measuring jug with 240 ml of water to test a suitable mug etc to find one the right size, then use that for everything. That’s what I did.  As ingredients will be lighter (e.g. berries) or heavier (e.g. sugar) in themelves, cupfuls will vary in weight, so for this recipe I also weighed each ingredient, once measured, to get the quantities in grammes, as maybe more practical.

 

 

Am Foghar

Nuair a tha mi a’ sgrìobhadh seo, ‘s e deireadh na Dàmhair a th’ ann, na craobhan dearg is òir is na duilleagan a’ tuiteam.  Tha mi dìreach air ais bhon Mhòd ann an Dùn Òmhain, agus air an t-slìghe dhràibh sinn tro choilltean brèagha ri taobh lochan fada ciùin Earra-Ghàidheal.  Bha mullaichean nam beann fo sgòthan ìosal, ceò sna glinn, an t-àile bog tais, agus gun deò-ghaoithe sam bith – seòrsa aimsir taobh an iar air a bheil “a soft day” a-rèir caraid Èireannaich agam.  Bha a h-uile rud romànsach, tlàth; chan ann tric a tha i mar sin anns na sgìrean taobh an ear na Gàidhealtachd. Ach àlainn mar a tha sin, feumaidh mi aideachadh gur e an aimsir againne as fheàrr leam – nas soilleire, nas tiorma. ‘S urrainn dhomh cur suas le ar cuid gaoithe!

Na deiridhean-seachdain mu dheireadh chaidh mi cuairt air fad a’ chladaich dhan taigh-samhraidh aon latha agus latha eile sna coilltean timcheall air raon-goilf Inbhir Ghòrdain (seann ghàrraidhean a’ chaisteil), agus ‘s e làithean earachdail an fhoghair a bh‘ annta. Dathan agus solas cho àlainn agus an t-àile cho ùr, agus eòin na mara os ar cionn agus timcheall oirnn. Tha sinn fortanach gu dearbh a bhith a’ fuireach ann an sgìre mar seo.

Seo ìomhaigh blàtha no dhà den fhoghar agaibh gus ur brosnachadh tro làithean geamhraidh nas gruamaiche a bhios a’ tighinn gun teagamh – ach bidh cuairtean matha rim faighinn an uairsin cuideachd. Aodach blàth oirnn is togamaid oirnn!

 

Autumn

As I write this it’s the end of October, the trees red and gold and the leaves falling. I’m just back from the Mòd in Dunoon, and on the way we drove through beautiful woodlands beside the long still lochs of Argyll. The peaks of the mountains were under low cloud, there was mist in the glens, the air soft and damp, and not a breath of wind – the kind of west coast weather that an Irish friend of mine calls “a soft day”. Everything was romantic, delicate; it’s not often we have that kind of weather in the east of the Highlands.  But beautiful though that is, I have to admit that I prefer our own climate – clearer, drier. I can put up with our share of wind!

The last couple of weekends I’ve been for walks along the coast to the summer-house and in the woods around Invergordon golf-course (the old castle gardens), and these were both gorgeous autumn days. Such beautiful colours and light and such fresh air, and seabirds above and around us. We are fortunate indeed to live in an area like this.

Here are a few warm autumn images to encourage you through the gloomier winter days that are sure to come – but we can have plenty of good walks then too. Warm clothes on and off we go!

 

 

 

 

Liverpool agus na Saighdearan Terracotta

Dà sheachdain air ais bha mi ann an Liverpool gus coinneachadh ri caraidean, ach cuideachd gus taisbeanadh sònraichte san World Museum fhaicinn, a‘ sealladh cuid de na Saighdearean Terracotta à Sìona. Tha sin air mìos eile fhathast, gus 28mh den Dàmhair, agus ‘s math as fhiach fhaicinn. Ach feumaidh sibh bucadh: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/wml/exhibitions/terracotta-warriors/

Chan ann a-màin gu bheil mòran rudan prìseil is annasach ri fhaicinn, dèanta de òr is glas-chlach, a lorg iad anns a’ mhausoleum ana-mhòr a chaidh a thogail fon talamh o chionn 2000 bliadhna airson a’ chiad Ìmpire; ‘s ann cuideachd gum faigh sibh dealbh chumhachdach de dhòigh-beatha an Ìmpire agus a chuideachd nan lùchairtean aig an àm sin. Chan e taigh-adhlacaidh àbhaisteach a bh’ ann, ach seòrsa baile mòr fo-thalamh gu lèir, le fìor sheòmraichean, stàballan, uidheam amsaa, dìreach gun robh a mhuinntir ‘s a bheathaichean dèanta de chrè, a’ mhòr-chuid làn mheud. Agus tha deagh-thaghadh dhiubh seo ann an Liverpool – am measg cuid de na saighearan fhèin, agus gu h-àraidh na h-eich. Tha pìosan à taighean-adhlacaidh eile ann cuideachd, gus dealbh chruinn a thoirt dhuinn, agus a h-uile rud air a thaisbeanadh cho sgileil, le filmichean is solas is dathan – tha e dìreach tarraingeach.

Ach tha Liverpool fhèin fìor tharraingeach mar bhaile san latha an-diugh. Nuair a dh’fhuirich mi ann o chionn iomadh bliadhna bha pàirtean de mheadhan a’ bhaile gu math robach agus moran togalaichean eachdraidheil air an dearmad. A-nis tha coltas gu math diofraichte air – tha meadhan a’ bhaile agus àrainn a’ phuirt air an nuadhachadh neo an ath-leasachadh, agus tha an ailtireachd Bhictorianach glan is spaideil. Agus rud a bha riamh brèagha ann an Liverpool, tha craobhan is àrainnean uaine gu leòr ann, gu h-àiridh ann am pàirt a deas a’ mheadhain, mar Sefton Park. Is cinnteach gu bheil sgìrean nas bochda ann fhathast, ach mar neach-turais chan fhaic thu mòran lorgan de sin sa mheadan. Aig a’ Phierhead agus san Albert Dock tha measgachadh soirbheachail de shean is ùr san ailtireachd, leis na taighean-tasgaidh nuadh-fhasanta is gailearaidhean bhùithean ùra taobh ri taobh le seann togalaichean-marsantachd breige agus oifisean-luingearachd geala. Tha gu leòr ri dhèanadh agus ri fhaicinn le cinnt, bho dhualchas nam Beatles agus an Tate Liverpoul gu taighean-tasgaidh na mara neo mun thràillealachd air an deach cuid mhòr de bheairteas a’ bhaile a thogail.

Fiù ‘s ged nach rachadh agaibh air a dhol dhan taisbeanadh, ‘s fhiach gun teagamh sam bith Liverpool fhèin a thadhal fad dà no trì làithean – ailtireachd ghreadhneach, goireasan air leth agus daoine gasta càirdeil.

 

Liverpool and the Terracotta Warriors

Two weeks ago I was in Liverpool to meet friends, but also to visit a special exhibition in the World Museum showing some of the Terracotta Warriors from China. That’s on for another month, till 28 October, and is well worth seeing. But you’ll have to book:  http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/wml/exhibitions/terracotta-warriors/

It’s not just that they have lots of rare and precious items, made of gold or jade, which they found in the vast mausoleum built underground 2000 years ago for the first Emperor; it’s that you also get a powerful picture of the lifestyle of the Emperor and his followers in their palaces at that time. It wasn’t an ordinary mausoleum, but a kind of complete underground city with real rooms, stables, equipment etc, just that its inhabitants and animals were made of clay, usually life-size. And there’s a fine selection of these in Liverpool – including some of the Warriors and especially the horses. There are items from other mausoleums too, to give us a rounded picture, and the whole thing displayed so skillfully, using film, lighting and colour – it’s just fascinating.

But Liverpool itself is really fascinating as a city nowadays. When I used to live there, many years ago, parts of the centre were really run down and many historic buildings neglected. Now it looks completely different – the centre and the harbour area have been restored or redeveloped, and the Victorian architecture is clean and splendid. And something that has always been attractive in Liverpool, there are lots of trees and green areas there, especially on the south side of the centre, like Sefton Park. There are certainly still poorer areas, but as a tourist you don’t see many signs of that in the centre. At the Pierhead and the Albert Dock there’s a successful mixture of old and new, with the modern museums and galleries of shops alongside old brick mercantile buildings and white shipping-company offices. There’s certainly enough to see and do, from the Beatles heritage to the Tate Liverpool and museums of the sea trade and the slavery on which much of the city’s wealth was built.

Even if you don’t make it to the exhibition, it’s absolutely worth visiting Liverpool itself for two or three days – imposing architecture, excellent facilities, and lovely friendly people.

eòrna – barley

Tìr an Eòrna – Barley Country

‘S ann air Tiriodh a tha an t-ainm Tìr an Eòrna anns na seann òrain– bha an t-eilean aithnichte airson arbhair, ach bhiodh seo ceart cho freagarrach mar ainm air Ros an Ear. Nuair a bhios tu a’ dràibheadh tro Mhachair Rois no tron Eilean Dubh as t-samhradh, chì thu na h-achaidhean làn eòrna, fada nas trice na coirce no cruithneachd.  ‘S e sealladh àlainn a tha ann, an t-eòrna feusagach le a sgleò bàn a’ gluasad anns a’ ghaoith.

Thèid cuid mhòr dheth a chur mar eòrna-brachaidh, dhan ghnìomhachas-bìdh agus, san sgìre againne, dha na taighean-staile, ach cuid dheth airson fodair cuideachd. ‘S e am bàrr-gràin as cudromaiche na h-Alba a tha ann an eòrna, agus tha cha mhòr 30% de bhàrr-eòrna na Rìoghachd Aonaichte a’ fàs ann an Alba, ged a tha am meall-fearainn cho beag an coimeas ri Sasainn is an uiread dheth mì-fhreagarrach do thuathanachas-gràin. Tha sinn fortanach ann an Ros an Ear gu bheil talamh cho torrach againn agus meanbh-gnàth-shìde thlàth.

Seo beagan seallaidhean à Tír an Eòrna Rois an Ear dhuibh.

 

Cromarty Firth from Kilmuir Easter

Tìr an Eòrna – Barley Country

It’s Tiree which goes under the name of Tìr an Eòrna, Land of the Barley, in the old songs – the island was famous for its corn, but it would be just as appropriate as a name for Easter Ross. When you’re driving through the Fearn Peninsula or the Black Isle in summer, you see the fields full of barley, far more often than oats or wheat. It’s a lovely sight, the bearded barley with its pale shimmer moving in the wind.

Much of it is grown as malting barley, for the food industry and, in our area, for the distilleries, but part of it also as animal-feed. It’s the most important grain crop in Scotland, and almost 30% of the UK barley crop grows in Scotland, although the landmass is small in comparison to England, and so much of it unsuitable for cereal farming. We are fortunate in Easter Ross that we have such fertile soil and a mild micro-climate.

Here are a few views of the Easter Ross Tìr an Eòrna for you.

 

 

Risotto Adaig Smocte

Gritheidean (6 pòrsanan)

500 gr fileadan adaig smocte

750 gr bainne

1 uinnean

2 leigeas

150 gr peasraichean sugarsnap

300 gr rus

200 ml fìon geal

400 gr sùgh circe no glasraich

3 liomaid

2 spàin-bhùird ola-chruinn-ola

piobar dubh

tomàtothan is peirsill mar sgeadachadh

Cuir an adag leis a’ bhainne ann am pana trom air an stòbha air teas meadhanach. Teòthaich an adag gu socair mu 10 mionaidean, no gus am bi i bruich.

Anns an eadar-àm geàrr an t-uinnean ann am pìosan beaga agus na leigeasan ann an sliseagan tana. Geàrr na peasraichean ann an striopan trastanach, agus sgrìob rùsg de dh’aon liomaid gu mìn.

Nuair a bhios an adag deiseil, thoir am pana den teas. Thoir an adag às a’ bhainne agus cuir am bainne gu aon taobh.  Nuair a bhios an adag beagan nas fhuaire, bris ann am bleideagan i, agus measgaich sùgh de dh’àon liomaid gu faiceallach a-steach dhi.

Dòirt an ola ann am praidheapan mòr domhainn agus bruich a’ ghlasraich gu lèir gu socair fad 5 mionaidean. Cuir an rus rithe agus praidhig 3-4 mionaidean eile, a’ cur mun cuairt e gu cunbhalach. Dòirt am fìon ris agus teòthaich mionaid no dhà eile, an uairsin cuir an sùgh-circe no glasraich ris, beag air bheag, a’ cur mun cuairt fad na h-uine. A-nis tòisich ri gu leòr den bhainne a chur ris, beag air bheag, gus am bi an rus bruich. Measgaich an adag, an rùsg-liomaid sgrìobte, an sùgh den darna liomaid agus am piobar dubh a-steach.

Sgeadaich le tomàto is peirsill agus gèinnean den treasamh liomaid.

Tionndaidhean eile:

Cleachd rionnach smocte seach adag. Cleachd glasraich uaine sam bith eile, mar bhroccoli no ponair. Agus nì fìon dearg agus uinneanan dearg an gnothach cuideachd, mas e sin a tha agad ro làimh.  Tha an leth-uiread ag obrachadh ceart gu leòr cuideachd.

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Smoked Haddie Risotto

Ingredients (6 portions)

500 gr smoked haddie fillets

750 gr milk

1 onion

2 leeks

150 gr sugarsnap peas

300 gr rice

200 ml white wine

400 gr chicken or veg stock

3 lemons

2 tbsp olive oil

black pepper

tomatoes and parsley to garnish

Put the haddie and the milk in heavy pan on the stove on a medium heat and simmer for about 10 mins or until the haddie is cooked.

Meanwhile chop the onion and cut the leeks into thin slices. Cut the sugarsnap peas into diagonal slices, and finely grate the peel of one lemon.

When the haddie is cooked, take the pan off the heat. Remove the haddie from the milk and put the milk to one side. When the haddie is a bit cooler, break it into flakes and toss it carefully in the juice of one lemon.

Pour the oil into a large deep frying-pan and cook all the veg gently for 5 minutes. Add the rice and fry for another 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour in the white wine and simmer for a further minute or two, then add the chicken or veg stock, a little at a time, stirring all the time. Now begin to add the milk gradually, just enough until the rice is cooked.  Mix in the haddie, the grated lemon zest, the juice of the second lemon and the black pepper, and serve.

Garnish with tomato and parsley and wedges of the third lemon.

Variations:

Use smoked mackerel instead of haddie.  Use any other green veg, such as broccoli or beans. And red wine and red onions will also do the job if that’s what you have at hand.  Half quantities also work fine.

Obair-shnaidhidh Chruithneach – bùth-obrach le Barry Grove

Bha mi air leth toilichte cothrom fhaighinn a bhith aig a‘ bhùth-obrach seo anns a’ Bhlàr Dhubh 19 den Chèitean,  is Barry am fear a shnaidh ath-riochdachadh na cloiche Cruithnich againne ann am Baile a’ Chnuic. Chaidh an tachartas a chur air dòigh le ARCH (Arc-eòlas airson Coimhearsnachdan air a’ Ghàidhealtachd) mar phàirt den t-sreath “Experimental Archaeology”, a thilgeas solas air sgilean is teicneòlasan nan linntean a dh’fhalbh air dòigh phractaigeach.

On a bha daoine ann, inbhich is clann, nach robh cho eòlach air Clach Bhaile a’ Chnuic ‘s a tha sinne, thòisich Barry le bhith ag innse dhuinn mu sgeul is mu shiubhal na bun-chloiche, bho na Cruithnich a shnaidh i anns a’ choimhearsnachd acasan air Machair Rois, gu Caibeal Naomh Mhoire faisg air làimh, gu Caisteal Inbhir Ghòrdain, gu Lunnainn, agus gu Dùn Èideann.  Sheall e dealbh mhòr den obair-shnaidhidh air a’ chloich agus mhìnich e cho sgileil ‘s cho prìseil ‘s a tha i, ged nach eil fìor fhios aig na h-eòlaichean air na tha na samhlaidhean a’ ciallachadh.  A dh’aindeoin sin tha na h-ìomhaighean àlainn is cumhachdach, tarraingeach fhathast gus an latha an-diugh.

An uair sin thòisich e ri sealltainn dhuinn ciamar a rinn na Cruithnich – agus e fhèin – an obair-shnaidhidh, le innealan simplidh:  òrd-maide agus gilbean. An tòiseach feumaidh tu am pàtran mìonaideach a tharraing air an leac, an uair sin geàrraidh tu loidhne-muigh fhaiceallach leis a’ ghilb gus oir na h-ìomhaigh a dhèanamh tèarainte.

Agus a-nis chaidh leigeil leinn fhìn feuchainn! Bha pìosan cloich-ghainmhich agus innealan ann (ùird naidhlean seach fiodha san latha an-diugh), agus eisimpleirean de phàtranan, air no tharraing sinn feadhainn againn fhìn.  Abair gun robh sin tarraingeach, do dh’inbhich ‘s do chloinn. Chòrd e rium (agus ris na daoine bho ARCH) gu sònraichte mar a bha a’ chlann an sàs san obair,  gun sùilean airson dad sam bith eile, a’ tarraing ‘s a’ gilbeachadh fad uair a thìde co-dhiù. Agus le toraidhean drùidhteach.  Thàinig Barry mu thimcheall, a’ cuideachadh ‘s a’ toirt stiùireadh seachad.

Bha mi a’ bruidhinn ris cuideachd mu ath-riochdachadh na cloiche ann am Baile a‘ Chnuic. Bha cuimhne agam mar a bha e ag obair oirre fad mu cheithir bliadhna, bho 2000 a-mach, a’ chiad taobh san t-seada mhòr agus an taobh eile air an làrach. Bha sinn ag aontachadh mu cho fìor chudromach ‘s a bha an cò-dhùnadh air a bhith an obair a dhèanamh anns a’ choimhearsnachd fhèin agus leigeil le muinntir a’ bhaile a thighinn a-steach agus coimhead air is bruidhinn ris fhad ’s a bha e ag obair. Mar sin ‘s ann dhan bhaile, dha mhuinntir na sgìre a bhuineas a’ chlach ann an da-rìribh, mar a bhuin a’ chiad chlach dhan choimhearsnachd  Chruithneach. Mura b’ ann mar sin, nam biodh a’ chlach ùr air a cruthachadh ann an studio taobh a-muigh na sgìre agus dìreach air a toirt an sin nuair a bha i deiseil, cha bhiodh na daoine cho measail oirre no cho moiteil aiste mar phàirt den dualchas aca, an dà chuid eachdraidheil agus beò.

Mòran taing do dh’ARCH airson an tachartais luachmhoir sin. Ma bhios ùidh agaibh pàirt a ghabhail ann am bùthan-obrach an asgaidh eile mar sin, tha barrachd ann air feadh an t-samhraidh – fiosrachadh an seo: http://www.archhighland.org.uk/experimental-archaeology.asp

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Pictish stone-carving – a workshop by Barry Grove

I was especially happy to get a chance to be at this workshop in Muir of Ord on 19 May, with Barry being the sculptor who carved the reproduction of our own Pictish stone in Hilton. The event was organised by ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands) as part of the series “Experimental Archaeology”, illuminating the skills and technologies of centuries past in a practical way.

As there were people there, adults and children, who were not as familiar with the Hilton stone as we are, Barry began by recounting the story and the travels of the original stone, from the Picts who carved it in their own community on the Seaboard, to the nearby St Mary’s Chapel, to Invergordon Castle, to London, and to Edinburgh. He showed a large drawing of the of the carvings on the stone and explained how skilful and how precious they are, although the experts don’t really know what the symbols mean.  Regardless of that, the images are beautiful and powerful, still fascinating up to our own day.

Then he began to demonstrate to us how the Picts – and he himself – did the carving, with simple tools: a mallet and chisels. First you have to draw the detailed pattern on the slab, then you cut a careful outline to secure the edge of the image.

And now we were allowed to have a go! There were pieces of sandstone and tools there (nylon mallets nowadays, not wood), and sample patterns, or else we drew our own. That was absolutely fascinating, for adults and children. I was particularly delighted (as were the ARCH people) to see how really involved the children were in the task, with no eyes for anything else, drawing and chiselling for an hour or more. And with impressive results.  Barry came around, helping and giving guidance.

I was speaking to him too about his reproduction of the stone in Hilton.  I remembered watching him work on it for about 4 years, from 2000 on, the first side in the big shed and the second on site.  We agreed that it had been a really important decision to carry out the work in the community itself, and to let the people of the village come in and watch him and talk to him while he was working.  In that way the stone came to really belong to the village and the people, just as the first stone had belonged to the Pictish community. If that had not been the case, if the stone had been created in a studio outside the area and just brought in when it was finished, people wouldn’t have developed such affection for the stone or been so proud of it as part of their heritage, both historical and living.

Many thanks to ARCH for a truly worthwhile event. If you’re interested in taking part in other free workshops like this, there are more on throughout the summer – information here:  http://www.archhighland.org.uk/experimental-archaeology.asp

lusan buidhe Bealltainn, marsh-marigolds

‘S e Là Buidhe Bealltainn a tha air a’ chiad latha den Chèitean. ‘S e seann fhèill Cheilteach a tha anns a’ Bhealltainn agus i a’ comharrachadh toiseach an t-samhraidh, no toiseach na leth-bhliadhna blàithe soilleir, le teintean agus dìtheannan. Aig ceann eile na bliadhna bha Samhain ann, a’ comharrachadh toiseach nam mìosan fuar dorcha. Tha sin againn fhathast mar Oidhche Shamhna – Halloween.

bealaidh, broom

Tha mòran lusan buidhe ann aig an àm seo.  Tha an conasg ann fhathast, agus am bealaidh a’ nochdadh ri a thaobh, buidheagan an t-samhraidh, sòbhraichean, beàrnanan-brìde, searragaich, seileastairean, fiù ‘s lusan a’ chrom-chinn air fhagail. Agus tha aon lus àlainn eile a’ nochdadh an-dràsda a tha sònraichte – “lus buidhe Bealltainn” fhèin. Am bliadhna chunnaic mi fhìn mar a bha linne gu tur reòite sa Mhairt ach anns a‘ Ghiblean bha na dìtheanan deàrrsach seo ri fhaicinn anns an uisge agus air fad na bhruaich. Abair comharra dòchasach an t-samhraidh! Sa Bheurla bha “mayflower” aige roimhe. Is beag an t-iongnadh gur e The Mayflower a bha air long nam Pilgrim Fathers.

‘S e dath ceangailte ri soirbheachadh, ri beannachdan a bha ann am ‘buidhe’ dha na Gàidheil. Bidh sinn ag ràdh ‘Nach buidhe dhut!’ latha an-diùgh fhathast – coltach ri ‘Aren’t you lucky!’

A dh’aindeoin sin uile, ‘s e an t-Iuchair air a bheil “mìos buidhe” sa Ghàidhlig – ach chan eil mise a’ creidsinn gun gabh an t-Iuchair a bhith nas buidhe na an Cèitean.  Chì sinn!

 

Seo bhideo beag à Èirinn mu lus buidhe bealltainn agus seann chleachd ann an Castlebar: https://vimeo.com/107658790

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sòbhraichean, primroses

The first of May is called Yellow Day of Beltane in Gaelic. Beltane was an old Celtic festival, celebrating the beginning of summer, or of the warm, bright half-year, with fires and flowers. At the other end of the year it was Samhain, marking the start of the cold, dark months. We still have that today in the form of Halloween.

There are many yellow flowers out at this time of year. The whins are still on the go, with the broom appearing beside them, buttercups, primroses, dandelions, lesser celandine, irises, even left-over daffodils.

lusan buidhe Bealltainn, marsh-marigolds

And there is one lovely plant also appearing about now which is special – the “yellow flower of Beltane” itself – the marsh-marigold. This year I was able to see for myself how a pond was completely frozen in March yet in April these shining flowers could be seen in the water and all along the bank. What a hopeful sign of summer! In English “mayflower” was another name for it. No wonder the Pilgrim Fathers named their ship The Mayflower.

Yellow was a colour traditionally connected by the Gaels to prosperity and blessings. Even today we say ‘Nach buidhe dhut!’ in Gaelic – something like ‘Hasn’t a lot of yellow come your way!’ to convey the English expression ‘Aren’t you lucky!’.

Despite all that, the ‘yellow month’ in Gaelic is actually July, but I can’t imagine that July could be any yellower than May.  We shall see!

 

Here’s a nice a wee video from Ireland about the mayflower and a tradition in Castlebar: https://vimeo.com/107658790

 

Aig an àm seo den bhliadhna – toiseach oifigeil an Earraich – còrdaidh e gu mòr rium a bhith a’ coimhead air na h-eòin bheaga sa ghàrradh, is iad trang a’ cruinneachadh stuth airson an nid a thogail, agus a’ ceilearadh sna preasan fad an latha. Ach chan eil an geamhradh seachad fhathast agus mar sin nì mi cinnteach gu bheil sìol is bàllaichean-geire gu leòr sna biathadairean. Seo dealbhan de na h-eòin as cumanta sna ghàrraidhean againn, feadhainn bheaga is mhòra, a’ mhòr-chuid air an togail le caraid dhomh, Catrìona Spoors – mòran taing dhise!

At this time of year – the official beginning of spring, I enjoy watching the wee birds in the garden busily collecting material for their nests, and chirping in the bushes all day. But the winter isn’t past yet so I make sure that there’s plenty of seed and fat-balls in the feeders. Here are some pictures of the most common birds in our gardens, small and large, with their Gaelic names, most of them taken by my friend Catrìona Spoors – many thanks to her!

Click on pictures twice to enlarge.

 

An Eala Bhàn

Bha mi aig Celtic Connections ann an Glaschu seachdain no dhà air ais agus am measg chuirmean-ciùil eile bha mi aig oidhche mhòr san Talla Consairt Rìoghail, Òrain nan Gàidheal. Ghabh Gillebrìde Mac ‘Ille Mhaoil An Eala Bhàn, òran ainmeil air a sgrìobhadh ann an trainnsichean an Somme rè a‘ Chogaidh Mhòir.  Leis gu bheil sinn a‘ comharrachadh ceud bliadhna o dheireadh a‘ chogaidh sin am-bliadhna, bha e gu sònraichte drùidhteach na faclan sin a chluinntinn a‘ cur an cèill faireachdainnean is smuaintean duine òig anns an t-suidheachadh oillteil sin fad‘ air falbh bho dhachaigh.

Chaidh an t-òran a sgrìobhadh le Dòmhnall Dòmhnallach, nas aithnichte mar Dhòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna (1887 – 1967), à Uibhist a Tuath, agus e a’ smaoineachadh air a leannan, Magaidh NicLeòid. Mar a b‘ àbhaist aig an àm, cha do dh‘ionnsaich e Gàidhlig a sgrìobhadh aig an sgoil agus mar sin bha aige (agus aig iomadh bàrd eile) ri a chuid bàrdachd a chruthachadh agus a chumail sa cheann – euchd drùidhteach dhuinne an-diugh, agus sgaoil e fhèin i aig cèilidhean agus am measg chàirdean, anns an dòigh thraidiseanta. Mar sin dh’fhàs e ainmeil, gu h-àraidh mar bhàrd-cogaidh, fada mus do nochd a‘ chiad leabhar den bhàrdachd aige ann an 1969, air a tar-sgrìobhadh bho Dhòmhnall fhèin le Seonaidh Ailig Mac a‘ Phearsain, sgoilear Gàidhlig a bha na neach-teagaisg ann an Uibhist aig an àm.

’S e òran gu math fada a tha anns  An Eala Bhàn, ach tha mi airson blas beag dheth a thoirt dhuibh.  Tha a’ chiad rann a’ toirt an cuimhne an t-eilean agus an dòigh-beatha a dh’fhàg e:

Gur duilich leam mar tha mi ‘s mo chridhe ‘n sàs aig bròn
Bhon an uair a dh’fhàg mi beanntan àrd a’ cheò
Gleanntanan a’ mhànrain, nan loch, nam bàgh ‘s nan òb
‘S an eala bhàn tha tàmh ann gach latha air ‘m bheil mi ‘n tòir.

‘S i an eala bhàn an dealbh as treasa an seo, seòrsa samhla den t-saoghal shlàn, chiùin, nàdarrach a bha aige agus e ann an saoghal gu tur eadar-dhealaichte a-nis, ach cuideachd ìomhaigh den chaileig òig a dh’fhàg e. Tha e ag obair le dealbhan cumhachdach air feadh an òrain, m.e.  fuaimean a’ bhlàir:

Tha ‘n talamh lèir mun cuairt dhìom na mheallan suas sna neòil
Aig na
shells a’ bualadh – cha lèir dhomh buan le ceò;
Gun chlaisneachd aig mo chluasan le fuaim a’ ghunna mhòir…

no nuair a tha e a’ cur an cèill na faireachdainnean aige aig dol fodha na grèine:

Tha mise seo ‘s mo shùil an iar on chrom a’ ghrian san t-sàl;
Mo bheannachd leig mi às a dèidh ged thrèig i mi cho tràth,
Gun fhios am faic mi màireach i nuair dhìreas i gu h-àrd…

no a’ bruidhinn mun chianalas:

Tha m’ aigne air a lionadh le cianalas cho làn                                                                                                   ‘S a’ ghruag a dh’fhàs cho ruadh orm a-nis air thuar bhith bàn.

Tha e a’ feuchainn ri sòlas a thoirt do Mhagaidh – agus dha fhèin, le dealbhan is faclan às a’ Bhìoball, ach a’ toirt gu cuimhne a dhùthaich cuideachd:

A Mhagaidh na bi tùrsach, a rùin, ged gheibhinn bàs
Cò am fear am measg an t-sluaigh a mhaireas buan gu bràth
Chan eil sinn uile ach air chuairt mar dhìthein buaile dh’fhàs
Bheir siantanan na bliadhna sìos ‘s cha tog a’ ghrian an-àird.

Agus aig deireadh an òrain is iad seo na dealbhan uile – gaol, dachaigh, an cogadh – a tha e a’ tarraing ri chèile ann an “Oidhche mhath leat” brònach deireannach:

Oidhche mhath leat fhèin a ghaoil nad leabaidh chùbhraidh bhlàth
Cadal sàmhach air do shùil ‘s do dhùsgadh sunndach slàn
Tha mise ‘n seo san trainnsidh fhuar ‘s nam chluasan fuaim a’ bhàis
Gun dùil ri faighinn às le buaidh tha ‘n cuan cho buan ri shnàmh.

Tha fios againn gun do thill e air ais, ach mar dhuine atharraichte, làn brisidh-dhùil. Cha do phòs e a Mhagaidh agus cha d’ fhuair e (no duine eile) am fearann a bha air a ghealltainn dha na saighdearean leis an riaghaltas. Ach rè nam bliadhnaichean thàinig piseach air a bheatha; phòs e boireannach eile agus fhuair e obair mar chlachair. Agus lean e air leis a’ bhàrdachd.

Chan e na dealbhan agus na beachdan a-mhàin a tha cho cumhachdach, is i an dòigh-sgrìobhaidh cuideachd – tha e a’ peantadh le fuaimean agus uaithnean traidiseanta na bàrdachd Gàidhlig. Agus tha am fonn brèagha a’ toirt lùth is dathan a bharrachd dha na faclan. Is beag an t-iongnadh gu bheil luchd-ciùil cho measail air an òran – tha e air a chlàradh le iomadh seinneadair, leithid Calum Ceanadach is Julie Fowlis.

Seo dà chlàradh air a bheil mise measail, fear ann an dòigh thràidiseanta le Ùisdean MacMhathain à Uibhist a Tuath (le faclan G+B gu h-ìosal):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30dWUIHJoFM

agus fear eile ann an dòigh nas ùire, ach drùidhteach fhèin, le Karen NicMhathain (Capercaillie): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSyYb9jO7vQ

Barrachd fhaclan: http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/capercaillie/aneala.htm   (G+B), agus http://www.bbc.co.uk/alba/oran/orain/an_eala_bhan/  (G)

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An Eala Bhàn / The Fair Swan

I was at Celtic Connections in Glasgow a couple of weeks ago and attended a great Concert in the Royal Concert Hall, Songs of the Gaels. There Gillebride Macmillan sang the famous song An Eala Bhàn, the Fair Swan, written in the trenches at the Battle of the Somme during World War 1. With this year being the 100th anniversary of the end of that war, it was particularly moving to hear the thoughts and feelings of a young man in that horrific situation, far away from home.

The song was written by the North Uist poet Donald Macdonald, “Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna” (red-haired Donald of the village of Coruna), for his sweetheart, Maggie Macleod. As was the rule at that time he didn’t learn to write Gaelic (his mother tongue) at school, so he had to compose and remember all his poems by heart (what a feat of memory to us today), and recite or sing them at ceilidhs and friends’ houses in the traditional way. So he became famous, especially as a war-poet, long before his first book of poems was published in 1969, transcribed directly from Dòmhnall by Gaelic scholar Johnny Alec Macpherson.

The song has lots of verses but I’ll try to give you a wee flavour of it here.

Verse 1: Sad as I am, my heart seared with sorrow, Since I left my misty high mountains, the glens where we courted, The lochs, bays and stromes, and the fair swan who dwells there and whom I constantly pursue.

The ‘fair swan’ is his most striking image, and is a sort of symbol of the wholesome, calm, natural world he has left behind for this cruelly different one, but also an image of his fair young innocent Maggie.

He works with such pictures throughout the song, e.g. the sounds of war:

The ground around me is like hail up in the sky, With shells crashing, I can see nothing for smoke. My hearing has gone with the noise of the big guns….

Or when he expresses his feelings at each sunset:

Here I am with my eyes towards the west since the sun sank into the sea; I sent my blessing with her though she left too soon, Without knowing if I would see her again tomorrow.

Or speaking about his longing for home:

My spirit is so full of longing that my once-red hair is almost white.

He tries to comfort Maggie – and himself – with words from the Bible, but also calling to mind his native landscape:

O Maggie, don’t be sad, love, if I should die. Which of us lives for ever? We are all just passing though, like flowers in the cattle-fold That this year’s elements will flatten and that the sun won’t raise again.

At the end of the poem he draws together these strands – love, his home, the war – in a sad “last goodnight”.

Goodnight my love in your warm fragrant bed, Peaceful sleep to you, and may you awake healthy and cheerful. I am here in the cold trench with the clamour of death in my ears, Without hope of returning victorious – that ocean is too wide to swim.

We know that Dòmhnall did actually return, but a changed, disillusioned man. He didn’t marry his Maggie, and he didn’t get the piece of land the government had promised him and the other soldiers.  But in the course of time things improved for him. He married another woman, and found work as a stonemason – and continued to compose poetry.

It’s not just the word-pictures and the thoughts which are so powerful, it’s also the way he writes. He paints with sounds, and the traditional internal rhymes of Gaelic poetry. The beautiful melody adds even more strength and colour to the words. It’s no wonder that musicians are so fond of this song. It’s been recorded by countless singers, from Calum Kennedy to Julie Fowlis.

Here are two of my favourites, one traditional, by Hugh Matheson from N. Uist (with bilingual lyrics below):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30dWUIHJoFM

And a more modern one, but very expressive, by Karen Matheson of Capercaille: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSyYb9jO7vQ

More lyrics: http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/capercaillie/aneala.htm  (Gaelic+English) http://www.bbc.co.uk/alba/oran/orain/an_eala_bhan/   (Gaelic )

Thanks to Catherine Mackay, Invergordon for the postcards from WW1.