bilingual blog dà-chànanach

A’ bruidhinn mu dhaoine / Talking about people

My maternal grandparents
Link to pictures of Seaboard folk from our Seaboard History site.

I’ve amassed a huge number of words describing people, or used to address people. Many of them came up again and again, from sources old and young, including ones I collected over the years from those no longer with us. That shows that the words and expressions clearly were, and in some cases still are, well-used.  As ever, many thanks to all who have helped with this. Keep them coming!

The “Seaboard words” are given as spelled / pronounced to me or written down by contributors, so usually are roughly phonetic – locals should recognise them. The Gaelic words are given in brackets, their approximate pronunciation in italics.   In Gaelic, and in the Seaboard words that come from Gaelic, the first syllable is always stressed (and on the Seaboard often lengthened) e.g. spàgach, splay-footed = SPAA-cach.

1.The young

Bumalair – a big male child, careering around; a very big baby. What a bumalair! Also someone who messes up a job. (bumalair – bungler, oaf)

A wee eeshan – a naughty child (fairly mild, humorous word). (isean – a young bird, a wee child, esp. a naughty one)

A wee trooster – a mischief, a rascal (stronger word). (trustair – usually a very negative word used for adults – a dirty brute, filthy fellow, but clearly not as strong here)

Sproot – a rascal (maybe related to sprùis – an imp, pron. sprooosh)

Ploachack – a plump little girl or baby, admiringly. (possibly from pluiceach -a plump, chubby-cheeked person; ploiceag– a plump-cheeked woman; pluic = cheek)

Pochan, pockan – small cute person (pocan – small chubby lad; short fellow, pron. poch-can)

2.The old

Bodach, bottach, an old bottach – old man, old granda  (bodach – old man)

Bo-ba – granda (not an “official” Gaelic word, but a common familiar term in at least Shandwick and Balintore)

Cailleach – an old wifie

3.Characteristics, physical features

Spacack, spagach – splay-footed  (casan spàgach – splay feet)

Kervac – left-handed (from cearragach – left-handed, pron. kyarragach; cearrag, a left-hander)

Doikan – a small person (maybe connected to tòican – a small swelling, bump?)


Jeechallach – diligent, hard-working (dicheallach – diligent)

Spatchal – smart (spaideil – smart, pron. spatchal)

spatchack – posh (probably a variant of spaideil)

Ji-shall (pron. JA-ee-shal)  – good, posh (probably from deiseil – ready, prepared; deiseal – sunwise, southward, lucky, prosperous: both pron. jay-shal)

5.Less complimentary (a long section!)

He’s no yolach … he’s not handy at what he’s doing; clueless  (eòlach – knowledgeable)  

Poor gilouris!  Poor soul!  (diolaoiris – object of charity (word recorded in Wick area); related to more common expression dìol-deirce – poor soul, wretch). Interestingly, one contributor’s father applied this term to a gallus youth.

Luspitan – weak, underfed individual (luspardan – dwarf; puny man)

I’m no voting for them – they’re no but greishers – very derogatory term. Probably comes from greis, a spell of time, a while – perhaps in the sense of time-servers, or fly- by-nights? There is also a word greiseachd – enticement, solicitation, so maybe greishers were persuasive speakers with nothing behind it?  I think I’ll adopt this as my new term for politicians…

I’m in luperique – clothes or hands in a mess, e.g. if you spilled something on yourself or someone else. (Probably from (s)lupraich – slurping, wallowing, splashing, or possibly(s)luidearachd, slovenliness . The Seaboard sometimes dropped that initial S in words. (Probably because in some grammatical contexts in Gaelic, the S is changed to SH and not pronounced.)

Emmitchach -foolish (amaideach – foolish, pron. amajach)

Gorach – daft  (gòrach – foolish)

Him, he hasn’t moochoo! He has no sense. (mothachadh –perception, awareness. Pron. mo-a-chugh or mo-a-choo)

In or on the artan – on your high horse, angry. (àrdan – arrogance, haughtiness; height, prominence)

Prawshal– stuck-up  ( pròiseil – proud, pron. praw-shal)

Hanyel e gleek – he’s no wise (chan eil e glic)

Putting on the sglo – sweet-talking, buttering up. (sgleò – sheen, misting over; idle speech, verbiage.)

Beeallach – two-faced, untrustworthy  (beul=mouth > beulach -smooth-talking, plausible, pron. bee-a-lach)

Glacker – person speaking foolishly (glacaire – a blusterer)

Awshach – a foolish woman  (òinseach – female fool)  – heard in Inver

Keolar – peculiar (ceòlar – peculiar, eccentric)

Glaikit – daft . (Old Scots, probably related to Gaelic gloic – a fool, gloiceach – foolish)


Maytal – dear, pet  (m’ eudail – my dear, pron. may-tal)

Brogach, a term of endearment for a wee boy  (brogach – a sturdy lad)

Moolie – pet, darling (to a child)  (m’ ulaidh – my treasure)

Ma geul – my love (mo ghaol)


If I lift my drochnadar… – if I lose my temper, look out! (droch nàdar – bad temper)

Fyown – feeble, feeling flat, dispirited, faint. (fann – weak, faint, pron. fown, or feann, shortening, diminishing, pron. fyown)

Rohpach – feeling ropach – rough (ropach – in poor condition, scruffy, pron. roppach; ròpach – tangled, untidy, pron. roh-pach)

Brohnach – sad (brònach)

In a stoorsht – in a huff, in a fit of pique (stuirt – huffiness, pron. stoorsht)

Have a boos on you – sulk, pout (bus -pout, pron. booss)

Boossoch – grumpy (busach)

Seaboard fish

First of all, a huge thank you to everyone who has given me their Seaboard words and phrases since my appeal last month. The response has been amazing, especially at the Fisherfolk Festival dinner, and while I was on duty in the Fishing Store.  There are far too many names to mention everyone, and lots of words came in anonymously, or I didn’t get everyone’s names, but the longest lists (so far!) came from Hugh Skinner, Anne Barclay, Jean Mackenzie, and (to my delight) the table of young people at the dinner: Tore, Jamie,Peter, Stina, Julie, Keith.  So special thanks to them, and hope that will urge others to come up with more! 😊

It will take me quite a while to sort them all out, try to figure out the Gaelic spellings and look them up in my various sources, and record them more systematically. I’ll also combine them with my own memories and copious notes taken from my late mother Hansy and Katie Ross and others over the years.  But I thought I should get a few into this Fisherfolk Festival edition of the Seaboard News, so here’s a selection of fish for you!

Do get back to me if you have other local words and phrases (on any subject), past or present, and of course to comment on this batch, or add to it. Hand in anything to the Hall for me (spelling it just as you would say it).

Further selections to follow in the future.

Everyone’s favourite fish name – the mourcan (Gaelic murcan, pron. moorcan), a lumpfish or lumpsucker. The female mourcan (“even uglier”!) seems to have been called a paddle. This word was also used in Fife, according to the Scots Dictionary, so presumably a Scots term, not Gaelic.

The juntack or jintack – all agreed it’s a spiny fish that lurks in the sand in the shallows (Don’t step on any jintacks! my mother used to warn us), but various suggestions for what it is in English, incl. angler-fish, monkfish and weever fish. From Gaelic dionntag (pron. juntack), meaning both stinging nettle and lesser weever, but it may be used differently here.

Sellack – tiddler, very small shoreline fish. Probably from sgiolag, sgiollag – pron. skiollak, skullag – small fish, minnow, also sand-eel.

Sooyan – saithe   (saoidhean, 2 – 3 year old saithe)

Pelaig, paillac – porpoise  (peileag, pron. pay-lak – porpoise)

Porstan – small crab   G. portan, partan pron. porstan, parstan – (green) shore crab. From port, pron. porst, with -an, a diminutive ending: “a wee port creature”.

Spog / spawg – crab claw. G. spòg – claw. A small claw was a spògan.

Plashack – “a good fluke with spots”; plaice.   No Gaelic word like that found for any flat fish, though I know the word well myself for a plaice. Plaiseadh (pron plash-ugh) = splashing – maybe it splashed about if disturbed?  OR it’s a Gaelicisation of the word plaice, with a diminutive ending (-ag) – “a plaicie”.

Gealach –  “a bad fluke”. Again, not found in this context. Gealach (gyallach) = anything white or whitish (geal=white), but also the moon.  Were they pale / spotless, moonlike, or did they turn that way when caught? There is a word gealag (gyallak), found in my 1828 dictionary, meaning a white trout or salmon trout, but that’s not the same thing.

Leopach – flounder (Hilton and Balintore, not Shandwick?) – leòbag , lyoh-pak – any flat fish, esp. flounder or sole

Garvie – sprat, small herring.  G. garbhag pron. garra-vak – small herring (also plaice, spotted flounder, but seemingly not in the Villages)

Sannel – sand-eel (Scots)

Trollachan, troilleachan – squid (Bruce), or catfish, anglerfish (others)  Gaelic stròilleachan, squid – we must have lost the S locally.  My mother said her impression of it as a child was that it was an unspecified sea-creature you didn’t want to meet – the fishermen weren’t keen on it.  Maybe no sales or use for squid back then?

Eskan, aiskeen – conger eel  G. easgann, pron. eskan or ayskan – eel

Gimmach –lobster  G. giomach – pron. gimmach

“Coo-ee-chack” – whiting G. cuiteag

Cat-a-chreig – catfish  (literally “rock cat”)

Kerapan – basking shark.  G. cearban (kyer-a-pan) or carban (kar-a-pan)

Strangely enough, no words for salmon, herring or haddock came up (though I didn’t ask specifically, as so many words were coming in). The most common Gaelic for those is bradan, sgadan and adag.  Any of these familiar? Or alternatives? I recall sgadan from my childhood. Haddock, as far as I recall, was just haddie. Salmon was just “a fish” – never named.  “Have you got a bittie fish for me?” Superstition? Diplomacy?

The salmon fishing was canerack: “When you starting the canerack?” G. càinearachd, pron. kaan-er-ochk, from càinear, a salmon-fisher – seems to be a Ross-shire word (also W. Ross). Cainreach pron. kaneroch, is a small trout, but the words for trout and salmon are often interchanged regionally.

I’ll leave you with one of my main sources, Dwelly’s dictionary (1911), on the sooyan:


-ein, -an, sm The coalfish, saithe (pollachius virens). Named according to its age as follows:—1st year, Sìol or sìolagan.2nd year, Cudaig, cudainn or saoidhean.3rd year, Smalag, cuideanach or saoidhean.4th year, Saoidhean or piocach.5th year, Saoidhean-dubh or saoidhean-mór.6th year, Ucsa or ugsa. [1st year, Cudaig; 2nd year, Smalag; 3rd year, Saoidhean; 4th year, Saoidhean-mór; after 4th year, Ucas — Lewis, (DMy)]. Bu mhath a’ chudaig far nach faighte an saoidhean, the cuddy is good when no saithe can be got. The young saithe is called cuddy in some parts of Scotland and podly in others. It is sillock in Shetland. Raasay people are nicknamed “na saoitheanan.”

Fàilte chridheil oirbh uile!  A very warm welcome to you all!

Fritilean Ceann-nathrach / Snake’s head fritillary

Bha e riamh na iongnadh dhomh mar a chruthaicheas nàdar lus ball-breacte mar chlàr-tàileisg – chan eil mi eòlach air fear sam bith ach an fhritilean cheann-nathrach. Chunnaic mi a’ chiad uair e ann an dath-uisge le Charles Rennie Mackinosh , agus is esan aon de na lusan as roghnaiche leam o sin a-mach. Cheannaich mi poit bheag dhiubh trì bliadhna air ais agus chuir mi ann an tuba sa ghàrradh iad. Bho ach còig no sìa cinn, dh’fhàs iad (gun chùram sònraichte) gu 17 san eadar-àm, cuid dhiubh air an sìolachadh ann am badan eile.

Rinn mi beagan rannsachaidh. Leis gun robh mi a’ creidsinn gur e lus ainneamh deòranta a bh’ ann, chuir e iongnadh orm faighinn a-mach gur e diùlnach faichean-feòir Bhreatainn a bh’ ann. Bhiodh e ri fhaicinn fad is farsaing gu sònraichte ann an Sasainn a deas, m.e. ri taobh an Thames, agus rachadh a reic le clann ann an sràidean Lunnainn.

Sgaoilidh an lus tro a shìol, mura bi an fhaiche air a buain aig àm blàthachaidh, agus tro a mheacanan. ‘S fheàrr leis talamh tais. Le trìall nan dòighean-tuathanasachd traidiseanta agus treabhadh nan seann fhaichean, rud a mhilleas na meacanan, tha e air fàs fada nas ainneimhe. Gu fortanach tha làraichean ann a-nis ann an Sasainn a deas, fo dhìon Urras an Fhiadh-bheatha, ann an tearmannan nàdair ionadail, m.e Clattinger Farm agus North Meadow Cricklade, agus bha caraid agam an sin a chuir dealbhan thugam.

Bha mi a’ smaoineachadh cuideachd nach biodh lus mar sin freagarrach dhan aimsir againne cho fada gu tuath, taobh a-muigh a’ ghàrraidh co-dhiù, ach bha mi fada ceàrr a-rithist. Tha e na fhlùr oifigeil de mhòr-roinn Uppland, anns an t-Suain, agus fàsaidh e gu soirbheachail taobh a-muigh Uppsala air Faiche an Rìgh, far an d’fhuair e ainm Suaineach, kungsängslilja.  Mar sin tha mi beò an dòchas gun urrainn dhaibh a bhith air an stèidheachadh, latha air choireigin, ann an Ros an Ear torrach againn cuideachd.  Nach eil ùidh sam bith aig tuathanaich no buidhnean coimhearsnachd ann am faiche-fheòir thraidiseanta?


It has always fascinated me how nature can produce a checked plant – the snake’s head fritillary is the only one I have come across.  I first saw it in a reproduction of a Charles Rennie Mackintosh water-colour, and it has been a favourite ever since. 3 years ago I bought a small pot of it and planted it in a tub in my garden. From 5 or 6 heads, it has now (without special care) grown to 17, several seeded into other tubs.

I did a wee bit of research into it.  Having always thought of it as a rare, exotic plant, I was surprised to find it was for centuries a stalwart of British hay-meadows. It was particularly widespread in southern England, for example by the Thames, and would be sold by children in the streets of London.

The plants spreads via its seeds, if the meadow is left unmown in the flowering period, and its bulbs. It prefers damp ground. With the demise of traditional farming methods and the ploughing up of the old meadows, which destroys the bulbs, it has become much rarer. Fortunately some sites in southern England are now protected by the Wildlife Trust in local nature reserves, e.g. Clattinger Farm, and North Meadow Cricklade, and a friend of mine who has been there has sent me photos.

I had also thought it would not be suited to our northern climate, outside a garden anyway, but I was far wrong again. I learnt that it is actually the national flower of the province Uppland in Sweden, and grows successfully on the King’s Meadow outside Uppsala, hence its Swedish name kungsängslilja :  So I live in hope that it can maybe one day also be established in our fertile Easter Ross – any farmers or community groups interested in a traditional hay meadow?

Dealbhan fhaichean (1,3) le ©JDatchens, le tàing, an fheadhainn eile leam fhìn / meadow photos (1,3) by  ©JDatchens, with thanks, otherwise my own

by Neil Smith, CC

Uiseag bheag dhearg – Little red lark

Seo òran-tàlaidh beag brèagha, a thàinig à Eilean Mhanainn bho thùs. Chaidh eadar-theangachadh bho Ghàidhlig Mhanainneach gu Gàidhlig na h-Alba o chionn mu cheud bliadhna, agus cha b’ fhada gus an do dh’fhàs e gu math measail air feadh nan dùthchannan Ceilteach. Anns an t-sèist chì thu “san ì” (bho Ghàidhlig Mhanainneach “oie”) an àite “oidhche”. ‘S e nàdar de chòmhradh a th’ ann, eadar pàiste agus uiseag. Dh’fhaodadh clann nas sine agus pàrant a sheinn còmhla, le ceist agus freagairt, no dh’fhaodadh am pàrant a sheinn leis fhèin, gus am bi am pàiste na chadal fon aodach-leapa bhlàth– ceart cho sèimh ris an uiseag fhèin eadar a dà dhuilleig.

Uiseag bheag dhearg na mòna duibh,
Na mòna duibh, na mòna duibh.
Uiseag bheag dhearg na mòna duibh,
Càit’ na chaidil thu ‘n raoir san ì?

Chaidil mi ‘n raoir air bhàrr an dris,
Air bhàrr an dris, air bhàrr an dris.
Chaidil mi ‘n raoir air bhàrr an dris,
Is o! bha mo chadal cho sgìth.

Uiseag bheag dhearg na mòna duibh,
Na mòna duibh, na mòna duibh.
Uiseag bheag dhearg na mòna duibh,
Càit’ na chaidil thu ‘n raoir san ì?

Chaidil mi ‘n raoir air bhàrr nan tonn,
Air bhàrr nan tonn, air bhàrr nan tonn.
Chaidil mi ‘n raoir air bhàrr nan tonn,
Ach o! bha mo chadal cho sgìth.

Uiseag bheag dhearg nan sgiathan òir,
Nan sgiathan òir, nan sgiathan òir.
Uiseag bheag dhearg nan sgiathan òir,
Càit’ na chaidil thu ‘n raoir ‘san ì?

Chaidil mi ‘n raoir eadar dà dhuilleag,
Eadar dà dhuilleag, eadar dà dhuilleag.
Chaidil mi ‘n raoir eadar dà dhuilleag,
Is o! bha mo chadal cho sèimh


by David Iliff, CC

This is a lovely wee lullaby which originally came from the Isle of Man.  It was translated from Manx Gaelic to Scottish Gaelic about a hundred years ago, and it wasn’t long before it became very popular throughout the Celtic countries. In the chorus you can see “san ì” for “in the night” (from the Manx word “oie”) instead of the usual Gaelic “oidhche”. It’s a kind of dialogue between a child and a skylark.  Older children and a parent could sing it together, question and answer, or the parent could sing it alone, until the child was asleep under the bedclothes, just as peacefully as the lark itself between its two leaves.

Little red lark from the black moor
The black moor, the black moor
Little red lark from the black moor
Where did you sleep last night?

I slept last night on the bramble bush 
On the bramble bush, on the bramble bush
I slept last night on the bramble bush
But oh was my sleep so restless!

Little red lark from the black moor
The black moor, the black moor
Little red lark from the black moor
Where did you sleep last night?

I slept last night on the ocean waves
On the ocean waves, on the ocean waves
I slept last night on the ocean waves 
But oh was my sleep so restless!

Little red lark with the golden wings 
With the golden wings, with the golden wings 
Little red lark with the golden wings 
Where did you sleep last night?

I slept last night between two leaves
Between two leaves, between two leaves
I slept last night between two leaves
And oh was my sleep so peaceful!

Here are some links to it being sung.

Donnie MacLeod

Mairi MacInnes  (on Spotify)

Grainne Holland (in Irish)

Emma Christian (in Manx)  

All photos are from Wikimedia under the Creative Commons licence.

by Daniel Petterson, CC

Teampaill Angkor Chambodia

Angkor Wat

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


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

Ta Promh

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

Angkor Wat

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

Angkor Wat

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

The Angkor Temples of Cambodia


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


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

Ta Promh

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


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

Ta Promh

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

Aran Mhuileagan

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

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

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

Criathraich ri chèile:

2 chupa min-fhlùir (320 gr)

1 cupa siùcair (200 gr)

1 ½ spàin-tì pùdair-fhuine

½ spàin-tì sòda-fuine

1 spàin-tì salainn

Coimeasg le do mheuran:

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

Cuir ris agus measgaich ri chèile:

½ chupa chnòthan air an gearradh (60 gr)

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

½ chupa dearcan-Frangach (40 gr)

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

Cuir ris seo, agus

Sùgh agus rùsg liomaide

Measgaich gus am bi a h-uil nì tais.

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


Fresh Cranberry Loaf

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

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

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

Sift together:

2 cups flour (320 gr)

1 cup sugar (200gr)

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Rub in:

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

Add and mix together:

½ cup chopped nuts (60 gr)

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

½ cup currants (40 gr)

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

Add this, and

Juice and rind of one lemon

Mix till everything is moist.

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


Note re American cup measures:

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



Am Foghar

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

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

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



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

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

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





Liverpool agus na Saighdearan Terracotta

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

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

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

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


Liverpool and the Terracotta Warriors

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

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

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

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

eòrna – barley

Tìr an Eòrna – Barley Country

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

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

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


Cromarty Firth from Kilmuir Easter

Tìr an Eòrna – Barley Country

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

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

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