seaboardgàidhlig

bilingual blog dà-chànanach

2016 An Giblean: a’ Chàisg / April: Easter

P1160428Aig an àm seo den bhliadhna bidh sinn a’ cumail Fèill na Càisge. ‘S e fèill Chrìosdail a th‘ innte, a  tha a’ còmharrachadh aiseirigh Chrìosda, ach tha iomadh nì is cleachdadh na Càisge ann air nach eil coltas Crìosdail idir – peantadh no roiligeadh uighean, ithe uain, geàrr na Càisge, caismeachdan agus bonaidean na Càisge amsaa. Cò às a thàinig na tradiseanan uile sin?

Uill, tòisicheamaid leis an ainm fhèin, oir bidh sin a’ mìneachadh cuid mhath dhiubh. Tha an t-ainm Beurla, Easter, a’ tighinn (a rèir Naoimh Baeda anns an ochdamh linn) bho Ēostre, ban-dhia phaganach cheangailte ri dearg na maidne agus ris an Earrach. Bhiodh urram air a thoirt dhi mu àm a’ Ghiblein, Ēosturmanoth aig an àm seo. Mar a thachair le Saturnalia agus an Nollaig, agus le tradiseanan làidir pàganach eile, chaidh an fhèill sin fhilleadh a-steach còmhla ris a’ Chàisg, fèill Chrìosdaill aig an aon àm den bhliadhna, ach chum i feartan den t-seann fhèill Earraich – mar fhlùraichean earraich sna h-eaglaisean, no air bonaidean, agus samhlaidhean torrachais mar uighean agus uain, agus na geàrran no coineanaich òga pailt.

Will Meredith Creative Commons

Will Meredith Creative Commons

Ach ann an cànanan eile, nam measg a’ Ghàidhlig, thàinig an t-ainm bho fhèill eile – bho “Pesach” (Passover) sa mhìosachan Iùdhach, a bhios ga chumail mu àm a’ Ghiblein cuideachd. San Fhraingis ‘s e Pâques a tha oirre, san Eadailtis Pasqua, agus sa Bheurla tha am buadhair eaglaiseil paschal (m.e. paschal lamb) againn cuideachd. Anns na seann chànanan Breatannach ‘s e Pasg no Pask a bh’ oirre (Pasg sa Chuimris an-diugh), ach anns a’ Ghàidhlig dh’atharraich an fhuaim /p/ gu /q/ (bidh sinn a’ bruidhinn mu p-Ceiltis agus q-Celtis) agus an uairsin gu /k/, agus mar sin ‘s e Càisg a th’ againn sa Ghàidhlig a-nis.

Le Pesach, bidh na h-Iùdhaich a’ còmharrachadh an latha nuair a shàbhail Dìa beatha nan Eabhraidheach fhad’s a chuir e a’ phlàigh mu dheireadh dha na h-Èipheitich aig àm Mhaois – bàs a’ mhic a bu shine. B’ fheudar dha na Eabhraidhich uan ìobradh agus fhuil a sgaoileadh air ursainn an dòrais mar chomharra. Mar chuimhneachan air seo bidh mòran dhiubh aig ithe uain aig àm Pesach an-diugh fhathast, ullaichte air dòigh shònraichte.

freefoodphotos creative commons

freefoodphotos creative commons

Ach càit‘ a bheil na samhlaidhean Crìosdail? Uill, tha hot cross buns againn o chionn nam Meadhan Aoisean, leis an t-samhladh Crìosdaidheachd as ainmeile. Ach tha samhlaidhean ann a dh’fheumas barrachd mineachaidh san làtha an diugh, ‘s dòcha. Nochdaidh uighean agus uain a-rithist, mar eisimpleir. Anns an t-samhlachas Chrìosdail chithear an t-ugh mar uaigh dhùinte Chrìosda, agus briseadh an plaoisg-uighe mar an aiseirigh, briseadh smachd a’ bhàis. Thàinig uighean falamh – na bha am broinn air a shèideadh a-mach –  a pheantadh agus a chleachdadh mar sgeadachadh na Càisge, do shamhladh uaigh fhalamh Chrìosda. Agus tha na h-uighean a tha gan roiligeadh le clann nan cuimhneachan air a’ chloich a chaidh a roiligeadh air falbh bhon uaigh.

Tha ceangail eile eadar uighean agus a’ Chàisg. Anns an eaglais Chrìosdail thràith chan fhaoidte uighean ithe fad a’ Charghais, agus b’ fheudar an gleidheadh air dòigh air choreigin, gu tric leis a bhith gam bruich. Mar sin, bha pailteas de dh’uighean ann aig a’ Chàisg agus cothrom an ithe mu dheireadh thall, le cogais ghlan, is iad làn samhlachais Crìosdail.

P1160369Agus uain na Càisge? Mar a chunnaic sinn ann an sgeul Pesach, bha an t-uan agus an fhuil aige na ìomhaigh làidir mar an ìobairt a shàbhail na h-Eabhraidhich. B’ fheudar do uain-ìobairt a bhith gun smal, agus mar sin chaidh e na samhla Chrìosda fhèin, an t-uan fìorghlan a shàbhail sinn uile. Chì sinn an ìomhaigh seo air feadh a’ Bhìobaill, bho fhàidheadaireachd Isaiah (“thugadh e mar uan a-chum a’ chasgraidh”) gu Eòin Baistidh (“Faic Uan Dhè, a tha a’ toirt air falbh peacadh an t-saoghail!”).

Tha ceangal Crìosdail fiù ’s aig na caismeachdan agus na bonaidean na Càisge. B’ àbhaist do dhaoine a chaidh a bhaisteadh aig a’ Chàisg ròbaichean geala a chur orra fad na seachdain naoimh, agus do dhaoine eile an t-aodach ‘s na h-adan a b’ fheàrr aca a chur orra, agus an sagart a leantainn air caismeachd timcheall a’ bhaile no na paraiste, a’ giùlan fhlùraichean an Earraich, a’ taisbeanadh an sonas mu aiseirigh Chrìosda.  Agus mar a tha nàdar na daonnachd, dh’fhaodadh dùil a bhith againn gun tionndadh seo an ceann ùine do sheòrsa taisbeanadh-fasain.

Anne Harrison Creative Commons

Anne Harrison Creative Commons

Agus na coineanachan-Càisge? Bha tradisean ann sa Ghearmailt uighean sgeadaichte fhalachadh sa ghàrradh agus bhiodh a’ chlann gan lorg. Dh’innis na pàrantan dhaibh gur e ‘Geàrr na Càisge’ a bha air am breith an sin. Chaidh an tradisean seo dha na Stàitean Aonaichte còmhla ris na h-eilthirich Ghearmailteach agus bho sin gu Breatainn, gu h-àiridh ann an crùth choineanachan seòclaid. Chan eil cuimhne agam air an leithid nuair a bha mise nam phàisd; cha robh ach uigean seòclaid againne.

Tha fhios, cha robh cuid de na cleachdaidhean sin air an cumail cho tric ann an Alba Chlèireach, cha robh sna h-eaglaisean fhèin co-dhiù, le fios gu leòr aig na ministearan gun robh tùs ro-Chrìosdail aig mòran dhiubh, agus blas Caitligeach air a’ chàch. Ach bha e riamh doirbh casg a chur air dibhearsainean tlachdmhor, agus mhair na cleachdaidean a dh’aindeoin uile sin, ged nach do mhair am fios mu na bha air an cùlaibh.

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At this time of year we celebrate Easter. It’s a Christian feast, marking the resurrection of Christ, but there are plenty of Easter customs which don’t look at at all Christian – painting and rolling eggs, eating lamb, Easter bunnies, Easter parades and bonnets and so on. Where did these traditions come from ?

Easter Eggs 2007 photo by IrisDragon via Flickr Creative commons

Easter Eggs 2007 photo by IrisDragon via Flickr Creative commons

Well, let’s start with the name itself, as that explains a lot. The English name, Easter, comes (according to the Venerable Bede in the 8th century) from Ēostre, a pagan goddess linked to the sunrise and Spring. She was celebrated around the month of April, called Ēosturmanoth at that time. As happened with Saturnalia and Christmas, and many other persistent pagan traditions, that festival was integrated into Easter, the Christian festival at the same time of year, but it kept many features of the old spring festival – spring flowers in the churches, or on bonnets, and symbols of fertility such as eggs and lambs, and the abundant young rabbits and hares.

In other languages, including Gaelic (a’ Chàisg), the word for Easter came from another religious feast – from Pesach, the Passover, in the Jewish calendar, which is also held around the month of April. In French it’s Pâques, in Italian Pasqua, and in English we have the ecclesiastical adjective paschal (e.g. paschal lamb). In the old languages of Celtic Britain this was Pasg or Pask (Pasg in Welsh today), but in Gaelic the /p/ sound changed to /q/ (we talk about p-Celtic and q-Celtic) and later to /k/, giving us Càisg in Gaelic today.

At Pesach Jews commemorate the day that God saved the lives of the Israelites when Moses called down God’s last plague on the Egyptians – the death of the firstborn. The Israelites had to sacrifice a lamb and spread its blood on the doorposts as a sign. In memory of this many Jews eat lamb at Pesach even today, prepared in a special way.

But where are the Christian symbols? Well, we’ve had hot cross buns since the Middle Ages, with the most famous of all the symbols of Christianity, but there are some symbols that probably require a bit more explanation these days. Eggs and lambs appear again, for example. In Christian symbolism the egg is seen as the sealed tomb of Christ, and the breaking of the shell as the resurrection, breaking the power of death. Empty eggs – the insides blown out through a hole – are painted and used as Easter decoration, symbolising the empty grave. And the eggs rolled by children commemorate the rolling away of the stone from the grave mouth.

There’s another link between eggs and Easter. In the early Christian church it was forbidden to eat eggs during Lent and people had to preserve them in some way, often by boiling them. That meant there was an abundance of eggs available to eat at long last at Eastertime, and with a clear conscience, with all that religious symbolism attached.

And Easter lambs? As we saw in the Pesach story, the lamb and its blood were a powerful image as the sacrifice which saved the Israelites. Sacrificial lambs had to be without blemish, and in that way it became a symbol of Christ himself, the pure lamb who would save us all. We see this image throughout the Bible, from the prophecies of Isaiah (“he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter”) to John the Baptist (“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!”).

Flickr Creative COmmons via HuffPost

Flickr Creative COmmons via HuffPost

There is even a Christian link to the Easter parades and bonnets. People who had been baptised used to wear white robes throughout the holy week, and other would put on their best clothes and hats and follow the priest in a procession around the town or parish, carrying spring flowers, showing their joy at the resurrection of Christ. Human nature being what it is, it was only to be expected that in time this would turn into a kind of fashion show.

And the Easter bunnies? There was a tradition in Germany of hiding decorated eggs in the garden and the children would hunt for them. Their parents told them that the ‘Easter hare’ had laid them there. This tradition went to the United States with the German emigrants, and from there to Britain, especially in the form of chocolate rabbits. I don’t remember seeing such things when I was wee – it’s chocolate eggs that we had.

Of course some of these customs were not kept in Presbyterian Scotland, or not in the churches anyway, as the ministers knew quite well that many of them had pre-Christian origins, and the rest smacked of Catholicism. But it’s always been difficult to put a stop to people’s pleasure and enjoyment, and the traditions persisted despite that, even if the knowledge of what was behind them was forgotten.

Charles Tunicliffe display Anglesey

Photo of Ladybird book illustration at Charles Tunnicliffe outdoor display, Holyhead, Anglesey

 Creative Commons photos as indicated, with thanks. All other photos my own.

Barrachd mun Chàisg sa Ghàidhlig air Uicipeid (taing airson cuid den fhiosrachadh!): https://gd.wikipedia.org/wiki/A’_Ch%C3%A0isg

 

 

 

Runrig: The Story

RunrigGed a thoisich Runrig barrachd is 40 bliadhna air ais, agus iad a’ cluiche ann an tallaichean clìuteach mar na Barrowlands agus aig fèisean-ciùil mòra ann an Alba, ann an Sasainn agus thall thairis, air beulaibh nam mìltean de luchd-èisteachd, air dòigh air choireigin cha deach aca riamh a bhith fasanta. Cha robh na lèirmheasaichean no na stèiseanan-rèidio cudromach ro mheasail orra agus cha do ràinig iad  inbhe ‘stars’ taobh a-muigh cearcallan luchd-leantainn. Saoil carson? Cha do chuir fiù ‘s na lèirmheasaichean a bu bheumaiche an sgilean ciùil fìor an teagamh. Ach bha e doirbh ainm gnè a chur air a’ cheòl aca – cus roc airson folk, cus faireachdainn agus bàrdachd airson roc, cus dualchais, spioradalachd agus Gàidhlig gus a bhith ‘cool’.  Tha coltas ann gun ‘tuig’ thu Runrig no nach tuig. Agus tuigidh an-luchd leantainn dìleas gun teagamh – bha agus tha na cuirmean-ciùil daonnan loma-làn, bho na Barras gu Berlin, bho Chambridge gu Copenhagen, agus le luchd-èisteachd de gach aois.

Ach anns na bliadhnaichean as ùire tha atharrachadh ri fhaicinn – tha barrachd ùidh aig na pàipearan agus na meadhanan annta, gu h-àiridh bhon chuirm-chiùil ana-mhòr ‘Party on the Moor’ airson an dà-fhicheadaimh co-là-breith aig Runrig. ‘S dòcha cuideachd gu bheil ginealach ùr de lèirmheasaichean ann, a tha a’ sealladh air Runrig le sùilean ùra agus a’ tuigsinn dè cho math ‘s a tha an còmhlan agus dè tha iad air dèanamh airson an dualchais-chiùil Ghàidhealaich agus Albannaich air feadh nam bliadhnaichean fada sin. Agus tha iomadh còmlan no neach-ciùil nas òige ann, leithid Skipinnish no Mànran no Julie Fowlis, ag innse dè a’ bhuaidh a bha aig Runrig orra fhèin. Tha fìor choltas ann gu bheil iad a’ faighinn – mu dheireadh thall – urram nan dùthaich fhèin. Aig inbhe ‘national treasure’, ‘s dòcha, ach co-dhiù – aithnichte mar luchd-ciùil Albannach cudromach.

Agus tha aobhar sònraichte gu dearbh ann a-nis gu bheil agallamhan còmhla riutha sa h-uile phàipear agus fiù ‘s air an telebhisean – STV agus BBC! – ‘s ann gun do nochd an clàr ùr The Story o chionn dà sheachdain, agus iad ag ràdh gur e an clàr studio mu dheireadh aca a bhios ann.  Maoim anns a’ choimhearsnachd Riggie. Na meadhanan air bhioran.  Cha chreid mi gun do rinn iad sin a dh’aon ghnothach – cha robh na balaich riamh ro mhath air margaideachd – ach rinn e a’ chùis. Clàr mu dheireadh? Runrig ri stad? Seoc is oillt! Feumaidh Runrig an fhirinn inns dhuinn!

Agus mar sin, artaigilean agus agallamhan gun chrìoch, ann an Alba, ann an Sasainn, sa Ghearmailt agus san Danmhairg. Chan eil mi a’ gearan – mar neach-leantainn Runrig fad-ùine mi fhìn, tha e na fhìor thlachd a bhith a’ faicinn an uiread sna meadhanan mun chòmhlan, mu dheireadh thall. Agus tiogaidean gan reic ann an aithghearrachd airson gach cuirm-ciùil san turas. (Fiu’s nas luaithe na mar as àbhaist, ma ghabhas sin.)  Agus an uairsin an deagh naidheachd – cha stad iad. Bidh iad a’ dol air turas, a’ dèanamh phròiseactan eadar-dhealaichte ‘s dòcha, an dùil gum bi clàran eile ann, mar DVDan beò, EP no dhà, rudan mar sin. Bhiodh album studio eile cus a-nis – cus obrach (thug am fear sin bliadhna gu leth obrach cruaidh), agus chan ann nas òige a tha iad a’ fàs. Ach bidh iad ann, greis a bharrachd co-dhiù. Na gabhaibh dragh!  Osna mòr faochaidh bhuainn uile.

Malcolm JonesAgus ciamar a tha an clàr ùr? Nochd aon òran (leis an aon ainm ris an album) mìos no dhà na bu thràithe, mar single le bhideo tlachdmhor – The Story. Sin òran aighearach, sèist sa Bheurla, rannan sa Ghàidhlig, air cuspair a bhios ri chluinntinn sa chlàr ùr air fad – “these early years”. Agus an uairsin nochd an t-album fhèin, ochd bliadhna as dèidh Everything You See. Aig a’ chiad èisteachd tha e iongantach, tha fuaim caran coimheach aige, aig amannan cus synthesiser no orcastra, ach tha na guthan –  Ruiraidh cho tric ri Bruce – an-còmhnaidh soilleir agus làidir.  Mar as motha a bhios tu ag èisteachd ris, ‘s ann as motha as toil leat e. ‘S e clàr làidir agus clàr fìor Runrig a th’ ann. ‘S e Brian Hurren, cluicheadair mheur-chlàir aig Runrig agus am ball as òige, a riochdaich an clàr. Leis gu bheil e cho eòlach air a’ chòmlan, air na neartan is laigsean aca ach cuideachd air an eachdraidh agus na dòighean-obrach aca, chruthaich e obair choileanta, dhrùidhteach, dhàna.

Agus rud inntinneach eile – ‘s e ‘concept album’ a th’ ann, clàr cruinn is aonaichte à peann nam bràithrean Dòmhallach. Tha an dithis aca barrachd is trì fichead bliadhna a dh’aois a-nis (ged nach aithnicheadh tu sin orra) agus tha dòigh-shealltainn gu math fiallsanachail aca, gun a bhith trom. Chan eil eagal orra ro chuspairean doirbh, brònach (Rise and Fall – dealbhan drùidhteach às an Darna Chogadh, 18th July mu chùis-mhulaid  Mhalaysian Airways san Ugrain) no spioradail (Ònar, Somewhere). Ach tha na h-òrain seo uile ag obair le iomhaighean cumhachadach is fosgailte, le faireachdainn seach searmonan, agus sin an rud tarraingeach mun deidhinn. A thaobh a’ chiùil fhèin, tha 18th July am measg nan òran roc as chumhachdaiche ‘s a sgrìobh iad riamh, agus tha Ònar mar-thà na òran-toiseachaidh làidir luath aig gach consairt san turas.

Tha òrain aotrom ann cuideachd, gu h-àiridh The Place where Rivers Run, a’ cuimhneachadh air na làithean tràth nuair a bha Runrig nan còmhlan-cèilidh air taobh an iar agus san Eilean Sgitheanach – “home by Kyle and Broadford round by Memphis Tenessee”  – iomradh air an dà bhuaidh ciùil a bh’ aca bho thoiseach toiseachaidh. Tha iomadh iomradh pearsanta mar sin ann, ri an cluinntinn leis an luchd-leantainn fad-ùine, agus barrachd Gàidhlig na bha air na clàran na b’ ùire – mòran òran le measgachadh Gàidhlig is Beurla, agus aon fhear gu lèir sa Ghàidhlig (An-diugh ghabh mi cuairt). Tha na Dòmhnallaich a’ sealladh air ais, ach gun bhròn, agus iad làn dòchais airson an ama ri teachd – a thaobh saoghal dualchais Ghàidhealaich (“ It’s the badge of our culture – say it loud, and it’s all in the gift of the young and the proud”), agus air ìre spioradail: “Fon a’ ghrian ri teachd / ‘S a’ ghrian a dh’fhalbh / Còmhla sa blàths / Gu deireadh là.”

Bha sinn uile a’ dèanamh fiughair ri na h-òrain ùra a chluinntinn ann an cuirm-ciùil – am biodh iad ag obrachadh beò? Is iad a dh’obraich! Bha mi fhìn aig a’ chonsairt ann an Dùn Èideann agus ’s e oidhche mhòr a bh‘ ann, le measgachadh cruthachail de dh‘òrain (glè) shean, mar Harvest Moon (an luchd-èisteachd air an dòigh glan), agus an fheadhainn ùra. Ged nach robh orcastra no sagsafòn ann gus ‚special effects‘ a chruthachadh, bha draoidheachd gu leòr eile aig Malcolm Jones, gaisgeach a’ ghiotàir, Brian fhèin air na meur-chlàir, agus Iain Bayne air na drumaichean.  Tha bhideothan ùra àlainn cuideachd air cùl an àrd-ùrlair; bha am fear aig Rise and Fall, cuide ri cluich an òrain fhèin, gu sònraichte drùidteach.

Rory & Calum MacdonaldAch bha aon òran sònraichte a dhìth sa phrògram bheò, an t-òran mu dheireadh air an album: Somewhere. Agus tha mi fhìn a‘ smaoineachadh gur e co-dhùnadh ceart a bha sin.  ‘S e òran àlainn, spioradail a th‘ ann, air a bhrosnachadh le Dr Laurel Clark, an speuradair a chaochail ann an tubaist spàl-fanais Cholumbia ann an 2003, ach le sealladh uile-choitcheann. Tha guth Ruairidh air iteig os cionn a’ chòmhlain agus orcastra Prague Philharmonic: “Somewhere in the dark I’ll find you / Somewhere in the light I’ll meet you there/ Where immortal souls collide / Somewhere out there.” Bha Dr Clark na neach-leantainn Runrig on a bha i ag obair san airm Amèireaganach ann an Alba; bha clàr Runrig aice san spàl agus bha Running to the Light na òran-rabhaidh aice sa mhadainn. Aig deireadh an òrain, agus a’ chlàir, tha a guth ri chluinntinn le teachdaireachd mu dheireadh dhan teaghlach, agus i a’ bruidhinn mu Runrig.

Uile gu lèir ‘s e album fìor làidir a th’ ann, aon den fheadhainn as fheàrr leotha. Ma bhios tu ag iarraidh falbh aig àirde do neirt, sin mar a nì thu e. Ach, taing do Dhìa, cha bhi iad a’ stad uile gu lèir fhathast. Agus mar gheall, aig deireadh a’ chonsairt, dìreach aig crìoch Loch Lomond, chluich Malcolm criomag beag de ‘We’re no away tae bide awa.”

 

Runrig: The Story

Iain, Malcolm, BrianAlthough Runrig started out more than 40 years ago and play famous venues like the Barrowlands and big festivals in Scotland, England and abroad in front of audiences of thousands, somehow they’ve never managed to be fashionable. The critics and established radio stations never really took to them and they never reached star status outside their own loyal following.  Why is this the case? Not even their most cutting critics have seriously questioned their musical skills. But their music is hard to categorise – too much rock for folk, too much sentiment and poetry for rock, too much tradition, spirituality and Gaelic to be cool. It seems that you either ‘get’ Runrig or you don’t. And their fans certainly do – their concerts were and still are always sell-outs, from the Barras to Berlin, from Cambridge to Copenhagen, and with audiences covering every age-group.

But in recent years this seems to have changed. The papers and the media are paying them more attention, especially since the huge 40th anniversary ‘Party on the Moor’ concert. Maybe too there’s a new, less prejudiced generation of reviewers, discovering for themselves how good the band actually is and how much they have done for Gaelic’s and Scotland’s musical heritage throughout these long years. There are also many popular younger bands and musicians telling the world how greatly Runrig influenced them, such as Skipinnish, Mànran and Julie Fowlis. I have a suspicion that Runrig have – at long last – actually ‘arrived’; they are finally being honoured in their own country. Maybe with ‘national treasure’ status – but in any case, they’re clearly here now, recognised as important Scottish musicians.

2016 03.51And there’s a particular reason that right now there are all these interviews with them in the papers and even on TV – STV and the BBC! – their new album, The Story, came out 2 weeks ago and they have said that it will be their last studio album.  Panic in the Riggie community. The media twittering with excitement. I don’t honestly think they did it on purpose for the publicity – the lads were never exactly good at marketing themselves – but it certainly did the job. Last album? Runrig stopping? Shock horror! Runrig has to tell us the truth!

And so we have been getting endless articles and interviews, in Scotland, in England, in Germany, in Denmark.  Not that I’m complaining – as a long-term fan, it’s sheer delight to see so much about the band in the media, at long last. And tickets have been selling out instantly for all the concerts in their tour (even faster than usual, if that’s possible). And then the good news – they’re not stopping. They’ll be touring, maybe doing some different projects, maybe the odd new record such as a live DVD or an EP or two, that sort of thing.  But another studio album would just be too much now – too much work and pressure (this one took a year and a half of intense work), and they’re not getting any younger. But they’ll be around for a while yet. Don’t worry! Great sigh of relief from the faithful.

So what’s the new album like?  The title song, The Story, was released as a single a couple of months ago, with a lovely wee video. It’s a catchy song, with the verses in Gaelic and the chorus in English, on a subject that runs through the whole album – “these early years” in their Hebridean homeland. And then the album itself came out, eight years after Everything You See. On first listening it’s a surprise, the sound is slightly unfamiliar, at times too much synthesiser or orchestra, but the voices – Rory singing as often as Bruce – are always clear and strong. The more you listen, the more it gets you. It’s a strong album, and a real Runrig album. It’s Brian Hurren, keyboarder and youngest member of the band, who produced the album. As he knows them so well, their strengths and weaknesses but also their history and their approach, he has created an accomplished, impressive, bold piece of work.

Another interesting thing – it’s a concept album, a rounded, unified whole from the pen of the Macdonald brothers, Calum and Rory. They’re both over 60 now (though you would never know it) and they take a philosophical approach, though never heavy. They don’t shy away from difficult, sad topics (Rise and Fall – moving pictures from World war II, 18th July about the Malaysian Airways tragedy in the Ukraine) or spiritual ones (Ònar, Somewhere). But these songs all work with powerful images that are open to interpretation, with emotion not sermons, and that’s the appealing thing about them.  As regards the music itself, 18th July is one of the most powerful rock songs they have ever written, and Ònar is already established as the fast, stomping opening song at each concert on the tour.

Runrig, EdinburghThere are light-hearted songs on the album too, especially The Place Where Rivers Run, reprising their early days as a ceilidh band on the west coast and on Skye – “home by Kyle and Broadford, round by Memphis Tennessee” – a reference to their two major musical influences from the very start. There are a number of these personal references, spottable by long-term fans, and there’s more Gaelic on this album than on recent ones. A lot of the songs are a mixture of Gaelic and English, and there’s one completely in Gaelic, An-diugh Ghabh mi Cuairt. The Macdonalds are looking back, but without regret, and are very positive about the future, both as regards the world of Gaelic tradition: “ it’s the badge of our culture – say it loud, and it’s all in the gift of the young and the proud”, and on a spiritual level: “Fon a’ ghrian ri teachd / ‘S a’ ghrian a dh’fhalbh / Còmhla sa blàths / Gu deireadh là.” (Below the future sun, The suns that have since gone, We will be together in the warmth Till the end of our days.)

We were all looking forward to hearing the new songs at concerts – would they work live? They certainly did. I was at the Edinburgh concert myself and it was a great night, with a powerful mixture of (very) old songs, like Harvest Moon (some very happy fans!)  and the new ones. Although there was no orchestra or saxophones to create the special effects, there was ample alternative wizardry from guitar-god Malcolm Jones, Brian himself on keyboards, and Iain Bayne on drums. There are also some beautiful new videos showing behind the band; the one for Rise and Fall, together with the musical performance, was especially moving.

Rory MacdonaldBut there was one particular song that was missing from the live programme, the last track on the album – Somewhere. And, on reflection, it was right to leave it out. It’s a beautiful, spiritual song, inspired by the astronaut Dr Laurel Clark, who died in the Columbia space-shuttle tragedy in 2003, but it has a universal perspective. Rory’s voice floats above the sound of the band and the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra: “ Somewhere in the dark I’ll find you / Somewhere in the light I’ll meet you there / Where immortal souls collide / Somewhere out there.” Dr Clark had been a Runrig fan since working with the American army in Scotland; she had a CD of theirs with her in the spaceship (later found in the wreckage and presented to Runrig by the family) and Running to the Light was her wake-up call. At the end of the song Somewhere, at the very end of the album, you hear her voice with her last message to her family – and she talks about Runrig.

All in all this is a very strong album, one of Runrig’s best. If you want to go out on a high, this is how to do it. But, thank goodness, they’re not stopping altogether yet. And as a promise of that, at the end of the concert, at the finish of Loch Lomond, Malcolm played a wee snatch of “We’re no away tae bide awa”.

Dealbhan bho Dhùn Èideann agus Nottingham (taing do JaDa !), an Gearran 2016.

Ri fhaicinn air an duilleag Facebook aig FilmG Alba – taing airson seo!  Naidheachd fìor bhrosnachail!

12-17 RIOCHDACHADH AS FHEÀRR | BEST PRODUCTION

Nach seall sibh air Sgioba Acadamaidh Rìoghail Baile Dhubhthaich – rinn iad seo oidhirp mhòr a thaobh props agus a bhith clàradh air feadh na sgoile agus anns a’ bhaile fhèin, agus b’ fhiach a dhèanamh. Tha iad a’ dol dhachaigh leis an duais airson Riochdachadh as Fheàrr!

Tain Royal Academy made a huge effort this year with props and got out to different locations, all over the school and around the village, and it’s paid off – here they are having won Best Production!

https://www.facebook.com/filmgalba/photos/a.857423157655383.1073741827.857423084322057/1044577665606597/?type=3&theater

Briosgaidean Teòclaid Dhorcha Dà-fhillte / Double Dark Chocolate Devastators

Dhan fheadhainn a tha seachd searbh sgìth de riaghaitean-bìdh an Fhaoilltich, no a tha feumach air trèat beag ro Àm a’ Chargais, seo reasabaidh airson bhriosgaidean teòclaid dìreach sòghail. Fhuair mi e bho Cam NicRath, aon de na ‘caraidean Gàidhlig’ agam ann an Ameireaga, a fhuair e bhon phiuthar aice, Molly, còcaire air leth agus sgrìobhadair sgeulachdan-muirt gu math sònraichte – thoiribh sùil air an làrach-lìn aice:  http://www.mollymacrae.com/

An dòchas gun còrd iad ribh!


Choc biscs ingredsBriosgaidean Teòclaid
Dorcha Dà-fhillte

2 chupa min-fhlùir

1/2 chupa còco

2 spàin-tì pùdair-fuine

3/4 spàin-tì salainn

4 uighean mòra

2 spàin-tì faoineig

2 spàin-tì grad-chofaidh

10 spàin-bhùird ime air a mhaothachadh

1 1/2 chupa de shiùcar donn

1/2 chupa de shiùcar gràinneach

16 unnsachan teòclaid searbhag-mhilis, air a leaghadh

2 chupa spealgan teòclaid leth-mhilis

Ullachadh:

1  Ann am bobhla mòr measgaich a’ mhin-fhlùir, an còco, am pùdar-fuine, agus an salann ri chèile le sguabag. Ann am bobhla eile, measgaich na h-uighean, an fhaoineag, agus an grad-chofaidh ri chèile gus am bi an cofaidh leaghte.

2  Ann am bobhla mòr, buail an t-ìm agus an dà sheòrsa siùcair còmhla gus am bi iad aotrom mothtanach, 3-6 mionaidean. Cuir ris measgachadh nan uighean. Cuir ris an teòclaid leaghte le bhith ga bualadh agus sgrab taobhan a’ bhobhla ma bhios e riatanach.

3  Cuir ris measgachadh na min-fhlùir gus am bi a h-uile nì air a mheasgachadh còmhla. Cuir ris na spealgan.

4  Dèan buill leis an taois, le 1-3 òirlich a leud agus cuir iad air clàr-fuine, mu 2 òirleach air falbh bho chèile.

5  Bruich ann an àmhainn aig 350 fad 10 gu 12 mionaidean neo gus am bi a’ phàirt anns a’ mheadhan fhathast bog agus gun làn-bhruich.

6  Fàg na briosgaidean air a’ chlàr-fuine fad 10 mionaidean, agus an uair sin, gluais iad gu racais.

Gheibh thu 30 gu 60 briosgaidean, a rèir am meud.

 

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This sinfully scrumptious recipe for chocolate biscuits is for those of you who are sick of the January diet, or who need a last wee treat before giving up chocolate for Lent. I got it from Cam MacRae, one of my North American ‘Gaelic buddies’, who got it from her sister, Molly. Molly’s not just a great cook, but also a crime-writer with an unusual approach – have a look at her website for details: http://www.mollymacrae.com/

Hope you enjoy your treat! 

Double Dark Chocolate Devastators 

Choc Biscs2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons instant coffee

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups packed dark brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted 

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips 

 

1 Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. In separate bowl whisk eggs, vanilla and instant coffee together until coffee is dissolved.

 2 Beat butter and sugars together in large bowl until light and fluffy, 3-6 minutes. Stir in egg mixture. Beat in melted chocolate, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. 

 3  Stir in flour mixture until combined. Stir in chips. 

 4 Scoop dough into balls, 1-3 inches in diameter, and place on parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced about 1 ½ – 2 inches apart. 

 5  Bake at: 350º F until edges are set and tops are cracked but centers are still soft and underdone, 10-12 minutes.  

 6  Let cookies stand on baking sheet for 10 minutes, transfer to wire rack.

 Yield: 30 – 60 cookies, depending how big you make them

 Note: a ‘cup’ is approx. a large teacup or small mug.

More details on ‘cups’ here: http://allrecipes.co.uk/how-to/44/cooking-conversions.aspx

Gdańsk

P1170846San t-Sultain am bliadhna bha mi ann an Gdańsk air costa tuath na Pòlainn – airson an darna turais, às dèidh seachd bliadhna. Bha sinn fortanach – bha sìde sgoinneil againn, deireadh-seachdain mu dheireadh an t-samhraidh, agus chunnaic sinn Gdańsk, agus am baile-mara faisg air, Sopot, anns a’ ghrian.

‘S e baile fìor bhòidheach ann th’ ann, làn beatha agus làn eachdraidh, le ceàrn acarsaid tarraingeach faisg air òs abhainn Vistula, agus fàileadh glan na mara. Tha na seann stràidean trang, beòthail, agus tha taighean-bìdh is cafaidhean gu leòr ann, gach uile fear le blas sònraichte aige fhèin. ‘S e ‘Red Door’ an taigh-bìdh a b’ fhearr leinne – bha sinn ann an turas mu dheireadh cuideachd. Agus aon rud math eile a tha aig Gdańsk – chan eil cus turasachd ann (fhathast).

Dh’èirich an Seann Bhaile mar ainneamhag on luaithre às dèidh lèirsgrios an Darna Chogaidh. Thòisich muinntir a’ bhaile sa bhad leis an ath-thogail, is iad airson cruth a’ bhaile aca a chumail dìreach mar a bha e roimhe, gun a bhith a’ cur thogalaichean ùra foincseanach ach grannda an àite nan taighean, eaglaisean agus geataichean-baile eachdraidheal brèagha. Mar sin chruinnich iad na seann bhricean, fiodh is iarann, eileamaidean sgeadachail, na dèilean, fiù ‘s na dorsan agus frèaman-uinneig nach robh ro mhillte, agus, leis a bhith a’ cleachdhadh seann dealbhan-ola, phlanaichean eachdraidheil agus dhealbhan-camara, ath-thog iad am baile. Agus sin ged nach robh fiù ‘s biadh
P1180041gu leòr aca aig an àm sin, agus cuid gun àite-fuirich ceart aca fhèin. Drùidhteach gu dearbh. San latha an-diugh, leis an t-seann bhreigearachd agus na sràidean caran cam mar a b’ àbhaist dhaibh a bhith, chan aithnicheadh tu gun do dh’fhuiling am baile cron-cogaidh sam bith. Tha na taighean, na ceàrnagan agus na cidhean ri taobh na h-abhainn ceart cho brèagha ‘s a bha iad aig àm a’ Cho-bhanna Hanseataigeach.

Chaidh sinn air an trèan gu Sopot, baile-mara tùrasachd leth-uair a thìde tuath air Gdańsk. Bha Sopot ainmeil mar àite shaor-làithean spaideil nan oifigearan àrda Comannach, le cilemeatairan de thràigh-ghainmhich agus cidhe fada eachdraidheal. San latha an diugh faodaidh muinntir nan trì bailtean Gdańsk, Sopot agus Gdynia ( an ‘Tricity’) an tràigh a chleachdadh agus brath a ghabal air na bùithtean agus taighean-osta spaideil agus na coilltean ‘s na slighean-baidhseagail air cùl na tràghad. Bha sinn fiù’s a plubraich ann an sàl blàth na Baltic.

Bidh Fèis Shakespeare air ann an Gdańsk gach samradh agus am bliadhna chaidh taigh-cluiche ùr a thogail aig oirthir an t-seann bhaile gus àite-fuirich maireannach a thoirt dhi. Tha e gu math connspaideach, mar bhogsa mòr dubh air an taobh a-muigh – coltas annasach am measg breigearachd ruadh bhlàth nan seann taighean – ach soilleir is ealanta na bhroinn. ‘S e taigh-cluiche ‘The Globe’ ann an Lunnain a bh’ anns a’ bheachd air cùl an togalaich seo. Bha companaidhean-cluiche aig P1170754Gdańsk aig àm Shakespeare cuideachd, is iad a’ cleachdadh na seann sgoil-fheannsaireachd a bha suidhichte dìreach fon taigh-chluiche ùr.

Ach an rud a rinn drùidheadh a bu mhotha orm, ‘s e   an taigh-tasgaidh ùr mu ghluasad Solidarność, ann an Ionad Dlùth-phàirteachais Eòrpaich, a chaidh a thogail ann an gàrradh-iarainn Lenin, far an do thòisich crìonadh smachd nan Comannach. Taobh a-muigh chì thu siotaichean ana-mhòr meatailt meirgiche, a chuireas cuimhne air slige luinge, ach na bhroinn tha atrium an tigh-thasgaidh àrd is soilleir, le craoban agus lusan. Shuas an staidhre tha taisbeanadh Solidarność gar stiùreadh, air dòigh uabhasach cumhachdach, tro thachartasan nan làithean agus bliadhnaichean dràmadach sin. Tha e a’ foillseachadh dhuinn na buaidh mòir a bha aig na tachartasan sin air an Roinn Eòrpa air fad. Seo aon de na taighean-tasgaidh as fheàrr air a thadhail mi riamh (agus tha cuid mhath dhiubh anns a’ Phòlainn – tha iad fìor mhath orra…). ‘S e sgeul mu ghaisgeachd daoine àbhaisteach, mar Lech Wałęsa, ann an sùidheachadh neo-àbhaisteach a th’ ann – agus mu dheidhinn na dìleib a dh’fhàg iad againn.

Uile gu lèir ‘s e baile brèagha, beòthail is eachdraidheil a th’ ann an Gdańsk: mholainn dhuibh uile a dhol ann.

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Gdańsk

P1170575In September this year I was in Gdańsk, on the Polish Baltic coast – 7 years after my first visit. We were very lucky – we had brilliant weather, the last weekend of summer, and saw Gdańsk itself, and its beach resort Sopot, in sunshine.  

Gdańsk is a really lovely town, full of life as well as history, with a fascinating waterfront on the Vistula delta and fresh sea air. The old streets are busy and lively, and there are plenty of restaurants and cafés, each with its own special character. Our favourite restaurant was ‘Red Door’, which we had also been to on our first visit. And one other good thing about Gdańsk – there isn’t too much tourism (yet). 

The Old Town rose like a phoenix from the ashes after the destruction in World War 2. The people of Gdańsk set about rebuilding their historic town as closely as they could make it to what it had been before, rather than building functional but ugly buildings in the place of the beautiful historic houses, churches and town-gates. They retrieved much of the original material from the rubble with their bare hands – bricks, wood and iron, floorboards, ornamental elements, even the doors and window frames that weren’t too badly damaged, and using paintings, old plans and photos as reference, rebuilt their town. And that was despite the fact that they didn’t even have enough food at that time, and some didn’t actually have a proper home themselves. Truly impressive. Nowadays,
P1180215with the use of the old bricks and the original irregular street layout, you wouldn’t realise that the town had suffered any war damage at all. The mediaeval and Renaissance houses, the squares and the waterfront now look just as beautiful as they did at the time of the Hanseatic League.
 

We took the train a few miles up the coast to Sopot, Gdańsk’s seaside resort. Sopot was famous as a smart holiday resort for the Communist party elite, with its long sandy beaches and an incredibly long historic pier. Nowadays the people of the three towns (the ‘Tricity’) of Gdynia, Sopot and Gdańsk can use the beach and enjoy the shops and smart hotels, and the woods and cycle-paths behind the beach. We took the chance to paddle in the (warm) Baltic. 

Gdańsk has a Shakespeare festival every summer, and recently a new Shakespeare Theatre has been built to house it just outside the Old Town. It’s controversial, its almost black brick exterior contrasting with the surrounding warm red brick of traditional Gdańsk. But inside it’s light and elegant. It’s inspired by both the Globe in London, and its rectangular Gdańsk equivalent, the 17th c. Fencing School, whose remains lie below the theatre. 

P1170785But what I was particularly impressed and moved by was the Solidarność Museum in the new European Solidarity Centre, built in the old Lenin Shipyard where the fall of communism started. On the outside rusty metal plates, reminiscent of a ship’s hull, inside a high, light atrium, with trees and plants. Upstairs the atmospheric rooms of the Solidarność exhibition lead us powerfully through the dramatic events of the time, illuminating their subsequent great influence throughout Europe. This is one of the best museums I have ever been to (and some of the others are also in Poland – they are very good at them). The exhibition is the story of the heroism of ordinary people, like Lech Wałęsa, in extraordinary circumstances – and their legacy. 

All in all, Gdańsk is a beautiful, lively and historic town.   I can really recommend a visit!

Barrachd fiosrachaidh / More informationhttp://www.inyourpocket.com/gdansk 

San aithris bheag seo aig NOSAS (North of Scotland Archaeological Society), a bha air an Seaboard sna làithean seo,  tha na dealbhan rim faicinn gu math soilleir taing dhan teicneòlas ùr, photogrammetry:

https://nosasblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/23/picturing-the-shandwick-stone-the-art-of-photogrammetry/

3 model depth colours

Tha coimeasan ann cuideachd eadar na dealbhan mionaideach a rinn Petley (tràth san 19 linn) agus Allen is Anderson (1903), nuair nach robh  a’ Chlach  cho caithte.

Balaich an iasgaich – the fishing lads

P1320423Seo òran ainmeil a sgrìobh fear Leòdhasach, Dòmhnall Moireasdan, tràth san 20mh linn. Ged a bha e a’ smaoineachadh air luchd-iasgaich Eilean Leòdhais, tha an dealbh seo den t-saoghal aca ceart cho freagarrach do bheatha chruaidh nan iasgairean againn fhèin ann an Ros an Ear, ginealach air ais, agus gu ìre do dh’iasgairean air feadh an t-saoghal, gus an latha an-diugh.

Here’s a famous song written by a Lewisman, Donald Morrison, early in the 20th century. Although he was thinking about the Lewis fisherfolk, the picture he gives us of their lives is just as relevant to the hard lives of our own Easter Ross fishermen a generation ago, and probably the lives of fisherman around the world even today.

Balaich an iasgaich

Fàilte gu fearann air balaich an iasgaich
Iomradh is tarruing is gearradh a’ bhiathaidh;
Coma leam leabaidh no cadal no biadh
Gu faigh mi mo lìon an òrdugh.

Tha ‘n geamhradh cho fada ‘s an gallionn cho cruaidh,P1280534
Droch shìde le cabhadh, clach mheallain is fuachd,
Cha mhòr tha chuir-seachad aig balaich ‘an Ruaidh
Ach cèilidh is bualadh eòrna.

Bàtaichean Gallach a’ gearradh an t-siabain,
Biotadh gu caladh an aghaidh sruth lìonaidh,
Bàtaichean biorach aig Nisich is Siaraich
Fada mun iar air Rònaigh

Thig an Fhèill Phàruig mu ‘m pàigh sinn na fiachan
Ri dorghach nam biorach air lios an Taobh Siar;
Tha prìs air an langainn an Sasuinn am bliadhna
‘S gheibh mi mo lìon an òrdugh.

‘S i leabaidh as fhearr leam na gàbhadh nan tonn;
Tha plaide mo mhàthar ‘s mo làmh fo mo cheann
Na ‘s fheàrr na bhith lapadh ri fasgadh nan crann
Ag èisdeach ri srann nan ròpan.

P1050289Sud agaibh na balaich nach gearain air cruadal
Sìnt’ air a bhallaist gun pheallaig m’ an uachdar,
Còignear mo seisear ‘s an lethcheann air cluasaig,
Ulpagan cruaidhe Cheòsain.

 
Fàilte gu fearann air balaich an iasgaich
Iomradh is tarruing is gearradh a’ bhiathaidh;
Coma leam leabaidh no cadal no biadh
Gu faigh mi mo lìon an òrdugh.

 

 

 

The fishing lads

P1320481Welcome on land to the fishing lads
Rowing and hauling and cutting the bait
I care not for bed or for sleep or for food
Till I get my nets in order


The winter’s so long and the gale so fierce
Bad weather with blizzards and hailstones and cold
Hardly any other pastimes for the boys of Point
But ceilidhs and threshing barley

Caithness boats cutting the foam
Tacking to port against a flowing tide
Sharp-prowed boats of Ness men and West-siders
Far to the west of Rona

It’ll be St Patrick’s Day before we pay our debts
Line-fishing off the West Side
There’s a good price for ling in England this year
If I get my nets in order

I’d prefer a bed to the dangers of the waves
My mother’s blanket and my hand under my head
Better than being numb in the lee of the masts
Listening to the snoring of the ropes

P1310929These are the boys who don’t complain of hardships
Stretched out on the ballast without a blanket over them
Five or six of them, with their cheeks on a pillow
Of the hard stones of an Ceòsan

Welcome on land to the fishing lads
Rowing and hauling and cutting the bait
I care not for bed or for sleep or for food
Till I get my nets in order

 

Listen to Norrie Maciver and Bodega singing it: https://youtu.be/3lN-6jq4Cb4

or an older version by Archie Mactaggart: https://youtu.be/5XrD_lHsXH0

 

Toradh an t-samhraidh / Fruits of the summer

caora-dhromain - elderberry

caora-dhromain – elderberry

Anns na seachdainean a dh’fhalbh (san Lùnasdal agus san t-Sultain) bha mi fìor fhòrtanach gun robh an t-sìde math gu leòr na làithean a bha cothrom agam a bhith a’ coiseachd a-muigh air an dùthaich. Mar às àbhaist chòrd e rium gu mòr na h-atharrachaidhean a leantainn anns na lusan, na craobhan agus na preasan, mar a tha an samhradh a’ falbh agus am foghar a’ dlùthachadh.

A dh’aindheoin na sìde measgaichte agus ro thric na briseadh-dùil thairis air an t-samhradh, tha coltas gum bi toradh math air na preasan ‘s na craobhan, do dhaoine agus do dh’eòin am bliadhna: ubhail, peuran is plumbaisean, smeuran, caoran-dromain, geanmh-chnòthan, cnòthan-castain is daraich, caoran, sgeuchanan is mucagan, ‘itealain’ gu leòr air uinnseann, leamhan-bog agus craobh-shice, sìol neòinein-ghrèine, dearcan-eidhinn … tha fiù ‘s ròpannan trom de shìol a’ slaodadh ris na dionntagan. B’ àbhaist dhuinn a bhith ag ràdh gur e seo comharradh geamhraidh cruaidh ri tighinn, ach tha sinn an dòchas gu bheil sin ceàrr an turas seo. Sna làithean seo cha ghabhainn orm ro-innse sam bith a thaobh na sìde!

Cha bhi mi a’ dol ro fhada gun chamara uair sam bith, agus seo taghadh dhealbhan a thog mi de stòras nàdair am bliadhna – measan, dearcan, cnòthan agus sìol nam craobh. Deagh bhliadhna a bha ann dhaibhsan co-dhiù!

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caoran - rowan berries

caoran – rowan berries

 

In the last few weeks (August and September) I’ve been lucky enough to have had reasonable weather at times when I’ve been out for country walks. As always I’ve been enjoying following the changes in the wild flowers, trees and bushes as the summer passes and autumn approaches.

Despite the very mixed and often disappointing weather over the summer, the bushes and trees are promising a good harvest for humans and birds this year: apples, pears and plums, brambles, elderberries, chestnuts and conkers, acorns, rowans, hips and haws, ‘aeroplanes’ galore on ash, hornbeam and sycamore, sunflower seeds, ivy-berries …. even the nettles are laden with ropes of seeds. We used to say this was a sign of a hard winter ahead, but let’s hope that’s wrong this time. These days I would not risk predicting anything to do with the weather!

I never go very far without my camera, so here’s a selection of recent images of the harvest in store – fruit, berries, nuts and seedpods. It’s been a good year for them anyway!

 

 

 

Veere, Tìr Ìosal: Na Dùitsich agus na h-Albannaich

Banais rìoghail - royal wedding

Banais rìoghail – royal wedding

Anns an Iuchar bha mi ann an Veere, baile beag bòidheach ann an Zeeland san Tìr Ìosal, gus Grèis-bhrat Diaspora na h-Alba fhaicinn; bha an taisbeanadh-siubhail mòr an sin fad dà mhìos. Bha mi air pàirt beag dheth fhaicinn ann an Inbhir Nis an-uiridh mar-thà, ach b’ e seo an obair-ghrèis iomlan, barrachd is 300 pannalan tarraingeach. Tha iad air an grèiseadh le coimhearsneachdan-fuaigheil saor-thoilleach air feadh an t-saoghail, ann an Canada, Patagonia, san Ruis, sna h-Innseachan, ann an Astràilia, Sìona, san Roinn Eòrpa … anns gach àite air an t-saoghal far an do leig Albannaich an acair bho na Meadhan-Aoisean a-mach. ‘S e aon de trì “peathraichean” a th’ ann – Grèis-bhrat Blàr Sliabh a’ Chlamhain (2010), Grèis-bhrat Mòr na h-Alba (2012-13) a sgrìobh mi mu dheidhinn an-uiridh, agus Grèis-bhrat an Diaspora (2012-14) e fhèin, gach fear fo stiùireadh neach-ealain Andrew Crummy.

Cha bhi Grèis-bhrat an Diaspora ri fhaicinn ann an Alba a-rithist ro 2017 – tha e a’ siubhal tron t-saoghal san eadar-àm; mar sin bha mi ro thoilichte cothrom fhaighinn fhaicinn ann an Veere. (Ach tha Grèis-bhrat Mòr na h-Alba ri fhaicinn an an Cair Chaladain an-dràsda, gu 20mh den t-Sultain.)

Tha na dealbhan de Ghrèis-bhrat an Diaspora a thog mi ann an Veere rim faicinn an seo, ma bhios ùidh agaibh annta: https://www.flickr.com/gp/seaboard/151th6

Sisteal - Cistern

Sisteal – Cistern

Ach carson a bha e ann an Veere, anns an Tìr Ìosal, idir? Tha sinn buailteach dìochuimhneachadh gur e an fhìor rathad-mhòr a bha anns a’ mhuir gus o chionn ghoirid, agus mar sin bha e nàdarra gu leòr gun robh ceanglaichean-malairt agus iasgaich làidir ann eadar taobh an Ear na h-Alba agus an Tìr Ìosal. Bha luing Albannach air acair ann an Veere anns an 13mh linn mar-thà, ged a bha Brugge na bu chudromaiche an toiseach, le bathair-a-steach Albannach saor o chìsean. Ann an 1407 fhuair Brugge cùmhnant mar aon phort-inntrigidh dhan Roinn Eòrpa ( ‘staple port’) airson bathair Albannach, le còirichean sònraichte, ach às dèidh dhan abhainn an-sin stopadh le eabar, fhuair Middelburg, baile-malairt ann an Zeeland, an t-sochair seo ann an 1518. Ach bha Middelburg fhèin beagan fad’ air falbh bhon mhuir fhosgailte cuideachd agus mar sin chaidh Veere, port na bu lugha ach glè fhreagarrach – air a’ chosta ach faisg air ionad-malairt mòr Middelburg (agus na bu bhàidheile ri Pròstanaich) ainmeachadh mar ‘staple port’ airson bathair Albannaich ann an 1541, rud a mhair gu 1799.

Bha luchd-malairt Albannach steidhichte ann an Veere fada ro sin, ge-tà. Bha na ceanglaichean cho làidir ‘s gun do phòs a’ Bhana-phrionnsa Màiri, nighean Sheumais 1 Alba, Wolfert à Borselen, Morair Veere, ann an 1444. Thairis air ùine dh’fhàs coimhearsnachd Albannach làidir ann an Veere, aig an robh sochairean sònraichte, mar eaglais agus lagh aca fhèin, tobair mhatha meadhan sa bhaile (mar An Sisteal, ri fhaicinn fhathast), saoradh bho chìsean air fìon is leann, lighiche is ostair aca fhèin, amsaa. Bha Taigh na h-Alba ann airson choinneamhan malairteach agus comannach, agus Gleidheadair (‘Conservator’) mar cheannard na coimhearsnachd Albannach san Òlaind. ‘S e dreachd gu math politigeach a bh’ anns a’ Ghleidheadair uaireannan – m.e. gus luing-cogaidh Bhreatannach a chur air dòigh, no rèisimeid Albannach a thogail, mar dhìon nuair a bha Veere no an Tìr Ìosal ann an cunnart, m.e. an aghaidh nan Frangach no nan Spàinnteach. (Fiù’s san Darna Chogadh ‘s e saighdearean Albannach a shaor Veere, mar phàirt de Ghnìomhachd Infatuate, 1944.)

Cuileann-Ros, Culross

Cuileann-Ros, Culross

Agus dè am bathar a chaidh a mhalart? Sa phrìomh àite bha a’ chlòimh Albannach, bho na Meadhan-Aoisean, bho thùs rùsgan corralach bho mhanaich Abaid Mhaolrois. Chaidh seo tro Veere (mar ‘staple port’) a-steach dhan Roinn Eòrpa, far an robh margadh prothaideach a’ feitheamh. Ach thar nan linntean dh’fhàs bathar eile cudromach cuideachd, leithid sgadan, bèin, lìon, uisge-beatha, agus gual agus salann gu h-àraidh à Cuileann-Ros ann am Fìobha (baile-cèile Veere an-diugh, agus fianais e fhèin de na linntean-malairt tarbhach sin).

Agus dè chaidh air ais sna luing-mhalairt? Bha bathar gu math eadar-dhealaichte ann, leithid fìnealtasan-bidh is dighe Eòrpach, aodach, leathar, bathar-pràis, taidhleachan Dùitseach. Aig àm a’ Chogadh Chatharra ann am Breatainn, chuir luchd-malairt Dùitseach an t-uabhas de dh’armachd gu Alba. Ach rud ceart cho cudromach, ‘s e na leacagan-phana dearga a thàinig a dh’Alba mar bhallaist agus a tha rim faicinn an-diugh fhahast air mullachan nan taighean taobh an Ear na h-Alba, gu h-àraidh ann am Fìobha – leithid Cuileann-Ros, Dìseart is Cathair Aile.

Leis gun robh ceanglaichean cho maireannach agus seasmhach eadar na coimhearsnachdan Albannach agus Dùitseach, is beag an t-ioghnadh gun robh iomlaid-fhoghlaim sgairteil ann cuideachd, seòrsa de phrògram-Erasmus tràth, le oileanaich Dhùitseach a’ frithealadh oilthighean ann an Alba agus oileanaich (agus ollamhan) Albannach aig Oilthigh Leiden.

De Schotse Huizen

De Schotse Huizen

Nuair a chaidh sochairean agus inbhe ‘staple port’ a thoirt air falbh aig àm Napoleon, lùghdaich malairt le Alba (dh’fhàs Rotterdam na bu chudromaiche), agus re ùine chaidh coimhearsnachd nan Albannach ann an Veere às a chèile, às dèidh nan linntean mòra. ‘S e baile sàmhach ann a th’ ann an Veere a-nis, a thaobh malairt co-dhiù (gu h-àraidh nuair chaidh dam a thogail aig beul na linne ann an 1961), le marina beòthail agus meadhan a’ bhaile eachdraidheal bòidheach, làn de chraobhan agus flùraichean, nam measg mòran ròsan-malla brèagha àrda. Ach dè tha air fhàgail de na h-Albannaich ann an Veere an latha an-diugh? Tha fiosrachadh agus cunntasan oifigeil gu leòr ann, agus dealbhan agus buill àirneis a bha aca, cuid dhiubh rim faicinn sna taighean-tasgaidh, ach gu mì-fhòrtanach chan eil mòran de na togalaich aca ann tuilleadh. Ach tha muinntir Veere uabhasach moiteil às an fheadhainn a tha air fhàgail.

A-mach on t-Sisteal, taigh-tobair cloiche às an 16mh linn, tha dà sheann taigh drùidteach ann, faisg air a chidhe, air a bheil De Schotse Huizen, an dà chuid air an togail san 16mh linn cuideachd. Bha sgèimheachadh nan taighean seo a’ nochdadh inbhe an luchd-malairt Albannach. ‘S e Het Lammetje (an t-uan) a th’ air aon dhiubh, fear math ghlèidhte, a’ toirt tarraing air a’ mhailairt-chlòimhe, agus e na dheagh shampall den stoidhle Ghotach Dhùitseach, air an taobh a-muigh ‘s a-staigh. Chaidh am fear eile, In Den Struijsch (an struth) atharrachadh gu ìre ri ùine, ach tha e brèagha fhathast, le eileamaidean clasaigeach air. Tha taigh-tasgaidh inntinneach mu àm nan Albannach anns na taighean an-diugh, agus sin far an deach Grèis-bhrat an Diaspora a thaisbeanadh.

Nach math gu bheil fianais mar sin ann air an dàimh fhada eadar Alba agus an Roinn Eòrpa – bha Alba riamh gu math fosgailte a thaobh cheanglaichean do ar nàbaidhean thall thairis. Faodaidh mi turas gu Veere, Middelburg is Brugge a mholadh – sgìre is bailtean brèagha iad fhèin, agus iad nam pàirt cho inntinneach den eachdraidh againn fhìn.

 

Veere, NL: the Dutch and the Scots

Margadh - Market, Veere

Margadh – Market, Veere

In July I was in Veere, a small town in Zeeland, the most southerly province of the Netherlands, to see the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry; the travelling exhibition was there for about 2 months. I had already seen a small selection of the panels in Inverness last year, but this was the full works, more than 300 fascinating panels. They were embroidered by volunteer groups all round the world, in Canada, Patagonia, Russia, India, Australia, Europe…everywhere in the world where Scots dropped anchor, from the Middle Ages on. It’s one of three “sisters”: the Prestonpans Tapestry (2010), the Great Tapestry of Scotland (2012-13), which I wrote about last year, and the Diaspora Tapestry itself (2012-14), each one under the artistic diirection of Andrew Crummy.

The Diaspora Tapestry won’t be back in Scotland until 2017 – it’s touring the world in the meantime, so I was delighted to have the chance to see it in Veere. (But the Great Tapestry is on show in Kirkaldy till 20 September.)

My photos of the Diaspora Tapestry can be seen here, if anyone is interested: https://www.flickr.com/gp/seaboard/151th6

But why was the Tapestry in Veere in the first place? Well, we tend to have forgotten altogether that it was the sea which was the real highway until comparatively recently, and that there were therefore close trade and fishing links between the East of Scotland and the Low Countries. Scottish ships were already anchoring in Veere in the 13th century, although Bruges was more important initially, with duty-free imports of Scottish goods. In 1407 Bruges negotiated the contract to be the ‘staple port’ for Scottish imports, i.e. the sole entry-port for Europe, with special rights, but when the river there silted up, Middelburg, a trading centre in nearby Zeeland, was granted that privilege in 1518. Middelburg itself however was also a bit too far from the open sea, and therefore Veere, a smaller but more suitable port right on the coast, close to Middelburg’s commercial hub (and more open to Calvinism), was declared ‘staple port’ for Scottish imports in 1541, a role which lasted till 1799.

An t-Sisteal - Cistern

An t-Sisteal – Cistern

Scottish merchants had established themselves in Veere long before that, however. The links were so strong that Princess Mary Stewart, daughter of James I of Scotland, married the Lord of Veere, Wolfert van Borselen, in 1444. In the course of time the Scottish community in Veere became very strong, and acquired special rights, such as their own church and courts of law, good wells in the town centre (like the Cistern, still there today), freedom from duties on beer and wine, their own doctor and innkeeper, etc. There was a Scots House for trade and social meetings, and a Conservator as head of the Scottish community in the Netherlands. This could be quite a political role at times, e.g. deploying British warships, or raising Scottish regiments, when Veere or the Netherlands was in danger, e.g from the French or Spanish. (Even in World War II it was Scottish soldiers who liberated Veere, as part of Operation Infatuate in 1944.)

And what kind of goods were traded? Primarily it was Scottish wool, from the Middle Ages on, originally superfluous fleeces from the monks of Melrose Abbey. These were channeled through Veere, as ‘staple port’, for trade in Europe, where a profitable market was waiting. But over the centuries other exports became important too, such as herring, flax, whisky, and especially coal and salt from Culross in Fife (twinned with Veere today, and itself testimony to the prosperous centuries of trading).

Taigh-tasgaidh, museum

Taigh-tasgaidh, museum

And what came back in the merchant ships? There was quite a variety of goods, such as European food and drink specialities, textiles, leather, brass-work, Dutch porcelain tiles. At the time of the Civil War in Britain, vast amounts of weapons were also exported to Scotland by the Dutch. But just as importantly, the red Dutch roof-tiles that were used as ballast in the returning ships (as the holds of coal-ships were too dirty for anything other than building materials) still leave their mark on house-roofs in the East of Scotland today, especially in Fife – for example in Culross, Dysart and Crail.

With such a strong, long-term relationship between the Scots and the Dutch, it’s hardly surprising that there was a lively educational exchange too – a sort of early Erasmus programme, wiih Dutch students attending Scottish universities, and Scottish students (and professors) at Leiden University.

Once Veere’s ‘staple port’ privileges were removed by Napoleon, trade with Scotland decreased (Rotterdam became more important), and over time the centuries-old Scottish community in Veere disintegrated. Veere today is a quiet backwater, as far as trade is concerned (especially since the building of the dam over the mouth of its firth in 1961), but it has a lively marina and a very pretty historic centre, full of trees and flowers, among them beautiful tall hollyhocks. But what is left of the Scots in Veere today? There’s plenty of information and offical records, and paintings and furniture, which you can see in the museums, but unfortunately not too many buildings any more. However the people of Veere are extremely proud of those they do still have.

De Schotse Huizen

De Schotse Huizen

Apart from the Cistern, a stone pavillion housing the well dating from the 16th century, there are two impressive old houses beside the quay, called De Schotse Huizen, both built in the 16th century too. The richness of the decoration showed off the status of the Scots merchants in Veere. One of them, a well-preserved example of Dutch Gothic inside and out, is called Het Lammetje (the lamb), referring to the Scottish wool trade. Its neighbour, In den Struijsch (the ostrich) has been altered over the years but is still attractive, with classical elements. There’s an interesting museum about the time of the Scots merchants inside them nowdays, and that’s where the Diaspora Tapestry was displayed.

Isn’t it great that there are still such witnesses to the historic relationship between Scotland and mainland Europe – Scotland was always very open as regards links with our neighbours over the seas. I can certainly recommend a visit to Veere, Middelburg and Bruges – the area and towns beautiful in themselves, and with a long heritage they share with us.

 

 

Càl-colaig càise beagan eadar-dhealaichte…

Càl-colaig le buntàta is càise

Càl-colaig le buntàta is càise

Gritheidean

1 càl-colaig meadhanach mòr
mu 750 gr buntàta
mu 125 gr càise cruaidh sgrìobte, leithid Cheddar, Parmesan
mu 150 ml uachdar singilte no uachdar-còcaireachd soya (m.e. Alpro)
salann
piobar dubh garbh-bhleithte

Cuir am bùntata do phana le uisge agus salann agus leig leotha bruich fhad ‘s a tha thu a’ deasachadh na gritheidean eile.

Geàrr an stoc a-mach às a’ chàl-cholaig, ach fàg an càl-colaig fhèin ann an aon phìos.

Rùisg an stoc agus cuir am pàirt geal às a’ mheadhan, ann an dà no trì pìosan, do mhàs a’ phana. Ma bhios duilleagan òga ùra ann, nach eil ro thiugh, cuir iadsan dhan phana cuideachd. Còmhdaich an stoc agus na duilleagan le salann agus uisge teth às a’ choire – ach 1 – 2 òirleach a-mhàin; bidh an càl-colaig a’ bruich san smùid.

Cuir an càl-colaig air muin nam pìosan-stuic, agus còmhdaich e le mullach a’ phana. Thoir chun a’ ghoil e agus leig leis earr-bruich mu 7 – 10 mionaidean gus am bi an càl-colaig al dente. Thoir sùil air gu tric – chan fhaod e fàs ro bhog!

Anns an eadar-àm sgrìob an càise.

Nuair a bhios am buntàta agus an càl-colaig deiseil, tilg iad ann an sìoltachan.
Geàrr am buntàta na dhà leth agus sgaoil iad air màs soithich-quiche. Brìs an càl-colaig ann am pìosan agus cuir e am measg a’ bhuntàta.

Sgap cuid mhath den phiobar dhubh gharbh-bhleithte air, sgaoil an càise thairis air, agus mu dheireadh dòirt an t-uachdar no Alpro air a’ mhullach.

Cuir fon ghrìosach gus am bi a h-uile rud òir-dhonn.

Tionndaidhean eile:

Ma bhios tu ag iarradh rudeigin nas susbaintiche, faodaidh tu sliseagan beucoin a chur air.

Nuair a bhios buinneagan-Bruisealach ri fhaighinn, bidh iadsan uabhasach blasta seach càl-colaig san reasabaidh seo cuideachd, gu h-àraidh leis a’ bheucon.

Faodaidh tu broccoli a chleachdadh an àite no còmhla ris a’ chàl-cholaig.

***************************************************

Slightly different cauliflower cheese…

Buinneagan le buntàta is beucon

Buinneagan le buntàta is beucon

Ingredients

1 medium cauliflower
c. 750 gr potatoes
c. 125 gr hard cheese, grated, e.g. Cheddar, Parmesan
c. 150 ml single cream or soya cooking-cream (e.g. Alpro)
salt
rough-ground black pepper

Put the potatoes in a pan with water and salt and let them cook while you prepare the other ingredients.

Cut the stalk out of the cauliflower, but leave the cauliflower itself in one piece.

Cut off the tough skin of the stalk and put the white middle part in the bottom of a pan, cut into two or three pieces. If there are any tender fresh young leaves, put them in the pan too. Add salt and cover them with boiling water from the kettle – only 1 -2 inches; the cauliflower will cook in the steam.

Sit the cauliflower on top and put the lid on the pan. Bring it to the boil and then simmer for 7 – 10 minutes until the cauliflower is al dente. Check frequently – it mustn’t get too soft!

Meanwhile grate the cheese.

When the potatoes and the cauliflower are ready, turn them out into a colander. Cut the potatoes in half and spread them over the bottom of a quiche-dish. Break the cauliflower into pieces and spread them among the potatoes. Scatter the rough-ground black pepper over it all, then the cheese, and finally pour the cream or Alpro over the top.

Place under the grill until golden brown.

Variations:

If you want something more substantial, you can add bacon rashers to the topping.

When Brussel sprouts are in season, they are extremely tasty instead of the cauliflower, especially with the bacon.

You can also use broccoli as well as or instead of the cauliflower.