seaboardgàidhlig

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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.

Sgonaichean le Peuran is Dinnsear 

Seo reasabaidh eile a fhuair mi bho Molly MacRae ann an Amèireaga, a sgrìobhas sgeulachdan-muirt. Chaidh na sgonaichean seo ithe anns an leabhar Plaid and Plagiarism – na gabhaibh dragh, chan eil puinnsean annta idir!

https://anastasiapollack.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/cooking-with-cloris-guest-author-molly.html?spref=fb

Grìtheidean

2 – 3 peuran daingeann (mu 500 gr) – nach fhaod a bhith ro abaich!

200 gr min-fhlùir

50 gr siùcair

1 – 1½ spàin-tì pùdair-fuine

½ spàin-tì dinnseir bhleithte

½ spàin-tì salainn

85 gr ìm fuar gun salainn, air a ghearradh ann am piosan beaga

20 gr dinnsear criostalaichte mìn-sgudaichte

60 gr uachdar trom (m.e. dùbailte, no crème fraiche)

1 ugh mòr

Ro-theasaich an àmhainn gu  190°C

Rùisg na peuran agus geàrr iad ann an cnapachain mu aon òirlich. Cuir iad air pàipear-fuine air clàr-bèicearachd san àmhainn mu 20 mionaid.  Feuch am bi iad air fàs tioram agus rud beag donn air a’ bhonn. Thoir am pàipear air falbh bhon chlàr agus cuir air racais e gus am bi na peuran nas fhuaire.  Fàg an àmhainn air. Cuir pàipear-fuine ùr air a’ chlàr.

Fhad ’s a bhios na peuran san àmhainn, measgaich na grìtheidean tioram ann am bobhla mòr. Cuir na cnapachain ìme riutha agus geàrr no suath iad a-steach dhan mhin-fhlùr gus am bi na piosan ìme cho beag ri peasraichean. Nuair a bhios na piosan peura nas fhuaire, cuir iad ris agus geàrr tron mheasgachadh gu luath trì no ceithir tursan, gus am bris pios no dhà de na peuran (ach fàg a mhòr-chuid slàn). Co-mheasgaich an dinnsear criostalaichte ris.

Ann am bobhla beag buail uachdar agus ugh.  Cuir mun cuairt iad sa mheasgachadh sa bhobhla mhòr le forca, dìreach gus an bi an taois a’ tighinn ri chèile ann am ball. Thoir an aire nach measgaich thu e cus.

Air bòrd-fuine air a dheagh fhlùrachadh dèan cearcall mu 6 oirleach a leud às an taois. Geàrr ann an 6 no 8 geinnean i agus cuir air a’ phàipear-fhuine iad, dà oirleach o chèile.  Ma bhios an taois ro bhog is steigeach aorson sin (tha sin a’ crochadh ris na peuran), cuir am pàipear-fuine ann an tiona-cèic no soitheach-pàidh agus dòirt am brolamas a-steach, mar chèic.

Bruich san àmhainn mu 30 mionaid (6 geinnean),  22 mionaid (8 geinnean), no 45-50 mionaid airson an tiona-chèic, gus am bi iad donn agus daingeann. Cuir air racais iad. Ith iad fhad ‘s a tha iad blàth fhathast, le ìm.

Faodaidh tu na sgonaichean amh a reothadh cuideachd, mus bruich thu iad. Cuir iad dìreach bhon reothadair dhan àmhainn. Chan eil feum aca air ach beagan mhionaidean a bharrachd.

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Pear Ginger Scones

This is another recipe I got from Molly MacRae in the USA, who writes murder mysteries. These scones were eaten (and enjoyed) in Plaid and Plagiarism. Don’t worry, there’s no poison in them!

https://anastasiapollack.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/cooking-with-cloris-guest-author-molly.html?spref=fb

Ingredients

2 or 3 firmish pears (about 500 gr), peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch chunks

200 gr flour

50 gr granulated sugar

1-1 ½  teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½  teaspoon salt

85 gr cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

20 gr finely chopped crystallized ginger

60 gr heavy cream (e.g. double cream, crème fraiche)

1 large egg

Heat oven to 190°F.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange pear chunks on parchment and roast (no need to stir) until they feel dry to the touch and look a little browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Slide parchment with pear chunks onto a cooling rack and cool to lukewarm. Leave oven on. Line baking sheet with another piece of parchment.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt together in a large bowl. Add butter cubes and cut in with a pastry blender until the cubes are about the size of baby green peas. Stir in cooled pear chunks. Give the mixture three or four quick mashes with the pastry blender (to break a few of the pear chunks, but leaving most intact). Stir in crystallized ginger.

In a small bowl, beat cream and egg. Stir into flour mixture with a fork, just until you can bring the dough together in a ball. Don’t overmix.

On a well-floured board, pat dough into a 6-inch circle. Cut either into 6 or 8 wedges. Arrange wedges, two inches apart, on parchment-lined baking sheet. If the dough is too soft and sticky for that (depending on the pears), just line a cake-tin or pie-dish with the paper, and pour in the mass, like cake mixture.

Bake scones until firm and golden, about 30 minutes if you’re making 6, about 22 minutes if you’re making 8, or 45-50 minutes for the cake-tin. Transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm, with butter.

Unbaked scones freeze beautifully and you can put them straight into the oven from the freezer. They’ll only take a few minutes longer to bake.

 

Seann Eaglais Neig Oidhche na Nollaig, le coinnlean, cuileann, ceòl agus deagh shunnd!

Nigg Old Church on Christmas Eve, with candles, holly, carols and good spirits!

Ann Am Baile Rìoghail Dhaibhaidh /  Once in Royal David’s City

Ann am baile rìoghail Dhaibhaidh,
Ann am bàthaich ìosail thruaigh,
Chàirich màthair chaomh a leanabh
Anns a’ phrasaich, ‘s E na shuain;
Moire ainm na màthar chaoimh,
Iosa Crìosd’ a leanabh gaoil.

Thuirling E bho Nèamh gu talamh,
Ged bu Dhia nan uile E;
B’ e an stàball thug Dhà fasgadh,
B’ i a chreathall prasach bhreun;
Leis a bhochd is leis an truaghan
Thathaich Slànaighear caomh neo-thruaillidh.

Is tre làithean àigh a leanabachd
Thug e urram agus spèis,
Umhlachd gràidh do’n mhaighdinn ainnir
Dh’àltraim E na uile fheum;
Sin mar dh’fheumas òigridh Chrìosda
Spèis is urram thoirt do dh’Iosa.

Chan ann a-nis san stàball shuarach
Leis na h-ainmhidhean mun cuairt,
Ach ‘s na Nèamhan air a chàradh
Aig deas-làimh na Naomhachd shuas;
Is mu thimcheall air an crùnadh,
A’ chlann bheag a thug Dhà ùmhlachd.

Translation:   1. In the royal city of David, in a stable lowly and pitiful, a gentle mother laid her sleeping baby; Mary was the gentle mother, Jesus Christ her beloved baby.
2. He came down from Heaven to earth, though He was king of all; it was the stable that gave Him shelter, it was the manger that made His cradle; with the poor and the lowly, the pure gentle Saviour came to live.
3. And through the joyful days of His childhood He gave honour and obedience, respectful love to the virgin maiden who cared for His every need; that is how the children of Christ must give honour and obedience to Jesus.
4. He is not now in the lowly stable with the animals all around, but set up in heaven at the right hand of the Godhead above; and around Him, crowned in glory, the little children who gave Him honour.

Taing do George Seto air geocities: http://www.geocities.ws/george_seto.geo/xmas_sng.html

Èistibh ris an seo – listen to the Gaelic version here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p012rqyl

Once in Royal David’s City

Once in royal David’s city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little Child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honour and obey,
Love and watch the lowly maiden,
In whose gentle arms He lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.

Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in heaven,
Set at God’s right hand on high;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

 

Chì mi na Mòr-bheanna / Mist-covered Mountains

An Teallach, Loch Droma

Am bliadhna bha cothroman gu leòr agam beanntan àlainn is drùidhteach na Gàidhealtachd fhaicinn ri linn na h-obrach agam no còmhla ri luchd-tadhail, agus chuir sin nam chuimhne an t-òran ainmeil Chì mi na Mòr-bheanna. Mar às àbhaist thòisich mi ri rannsachadh. ‘S e Iain Camshron a sgrìobh e ann an 1856, is esan à Baile a’ Chaolais ach ag obair fad bhliadhnaichean ann an Glaschu, agus mar sin ‘s e òran cianalais airson a dhachaigh a th’ ann. Mar phort chuireadh fonn slaodach air, a bha na thionndadh mìth-òrain Bheurla, Johnny stays long at the Fair. Dh’fhàs am fonn seo ainmeil mar cheòl na pìoba, agus chluicheadh e aig adhlachaidhean Sheòrais VI, JF Kennedy, agus Màthair na Ban-rìgh.

Tha grunn chlàraidhean den òran Ghàidhlig ann, eadar Alba agus Alaska (ceanglaichean gu h-ìosal), ach ‘s ann san tionndadh Bheurla, The Mist-covered Mountains of Home, a tha e as ainmeile.  Tha YouTube làn chlàraidhean dheth, a’ mhòr-chuid mar dhreach ionnsramaideach, bhon chluicheadair-giotàir, John Renbourn,  gus na Vatersay Boys agus na Scots Guards. Chluich fiù ‘s còmhlan Mark Knopfler e airson an fhiolm Local Hero.

Agus tha tionndadh àlainn Albais ann cuideachd, ach le faclan gu tur eadar-dhealaichte mu na Fuadaichean: Smile in your sleep, bonnie baby (Hush, hush).

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Ben Wyvis

This year I had plenty of opportunities to see the beautiful, impressive mountains of the Highlands in the course of my work or with visitors, and that brought to my mind the famous Gaelic song Chì mi na Mòr-bheanna (I’ll see the high mountains). That of course set me to researching it. It was written by John Cameron in 1856. He came from Ballachulish but worked for many years in Glasgow, so it’s a typical song of Highland homesickness. It was set to a slow air which was a version of the English folk-song Johnny stays long at the Fair.  This tune became very popular as pipe music and was played at the funerals of George IV, JF Kennedy, and the Queen Mother.

There are many recordings of the Gaelic song, from Scotland to Alaska (some links below), but it is most famous in its English version, The Mist-covered Mountains of Home.  YouTube is full of recordings of it, mainly as an instrumental, from guitarist John Renbourn to the Vatersay Boys and the Scots Guards. It was even played by the Mark Knopfler band for the film Local Hero.

And there’s a beautiful Scots version too, though with completely different words about the Clearances: Smile in your sleep, bonnie baby (Hush, hush).

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ChÌ mi na Mòr-bheanna

Glen Shiel

Séist
O chì, chì mi na mòr-bheanna
O chì, chì mi na corr-bheanna
O chì, chì mi na coireachan
Chì mi na sgorran fo cheò

Chì mi gun dàil an t-àite san d’rugadh mi
Cuirear orm fàilte sa chànain a thuigeas mi
Gheibh mi ann aoidh agus gràdh nuair a ruigeam
Nach reicinn air tunnachan òir

Chì mi na coilltean, chì mi na doireachan
Chì mi ann màghan bàna is toraiche
Chì mi na fèidh air làr nan coireachan
Falaicht’ an trusgan de cheò

Beanntaichean àrda is àillidh leacainnean
Sluagh ann an còmhnuidh as còire cleachdainnean
‘S aotrom mo cheum a’ leum g’am faicinn
Is fanaidh mi tacan le deòin

 

Translation of original Gaelic:

Slioch, Loch Maree

Chorus
Oh I’ll see, I’ll see the great mountains,
Oh I’ll see, I’ll see the steep mountains,
Oh I’ll see, I’ll see the corries,
I’ll see the peaks beneath the mist.

I’ll see very soon the place of my birth,
I’ll be welcomed in the language I understand,
I’ll receive hospitality and love when I arrive,
That I would not sell for tons of gold.

I’ll see the woods, I’ll see the thickets,
I’ll see fair fertile meadows there,
I’ll see the deer at the bottom of the corries,
Hidden in a garment of mist.

High mountains with beautiful slopes,
People of the kindliest habits living there,
My step is light as I go leaping to see them,
And I’ll stay there with pleasure for a good while.

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English version of the song: The Mist-covered Mountains of Home

Cuillins, Sligachan

Chorus

O ro, soon shall I see them,
Hi ro, see them, oh see them.
O ro, soon shall I see them,
The mist-covered mountains of home!

1 There shall I visit the place of my birth,
They’ll give me a welcome the warmest on earth,
So loving and kind, full of music and mirth,
The sweet-sounding language of home.

2. There shall I gaze on the mountains again,
On the fields and the hills and the birds in the glen,
With people of courage beyond human ken,
In the haunts of the deer I will roam.

3. Hail to the mountains with summits of blue,
To the glens with their meadows of sunshine and dew,
To the women and the men ever constant and true,
Ever ready to welcome one home.

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Ceanglaichean / Links:

Stac Pollaidh

Various Gaelic (esp. Griogair Labhruidh, from Ballachulish): http://www.bbc.co.uk/alba/oran/orain/chi_mi_na_mor_bheanna/

Tania Opland (Gaelic, Alaska): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgTzxScVhXM

Vatersay Boys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_D3PkGzDGoU

John Renbourn:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fwUuGVUjpA

Mark Knopfler Band: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK_Klo0ZvBM

Smile in your sleep, bonnie baby (Corries):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rwi9fBF4H_U