Wednesday, 19 January 2011

A Curious Old Song – I

As has been mentioned before in this blog Nether-Lochaber, or the Rev. Alexander Stewart (1829–1901) and Alexander Carmichael were old friends and corresponded with one another on a regular basis. Not a few of the traditions collected by Carmichael made there way into print via the astute eye of Nether as can be seen from Chapter XVII of Stewart’s book ’Twixt Ben Nevis and Glencoe: The Natural History, Legends, and Folk-lore of the West Highlands (1885). Although not mentioned by name, the woman from whom Carmichael recorded the song was Peigi Robasdan nighean Alasdair ’ic Amhlaidh (Margaret MacAulay née Robertson) also known as Peigi Sgitheanach (1821–1881):

From the Outer Hebrides our friend Mr. Carmichael sends us a song which he took down on the 10th March 1869 from the dictation of a cottar woman at Howmore, South Uist, a woman who, though in a lonely position, has a keen sense of the humorous and ludicrous.
The following is the song; we retain Mr. Carmichael’s orthography as being more in keeping with the Outer Hebrides pronunciation of many of the words :


“NA TRI EOIN CHRUINNE-GHEALA DHONN.”

Fann—“Na tri Eoin chruinne-gheala dhonn,
Chruinne-gheala dhonn, chruinne-gheala dhonn,
Na tri Eoin chruinne-gheala dhonn,
’S b’ iad sid na tri Eoin!

I.
“Is dubh am fionn sin, ’s dubh am fionn
Chaidh mi butarscionn mo bhean;
Ma their mise, ’s dubh am fitheach,
Their is' gum beil am fitheach geal


II.
“Tha bean agam mar an deantag,
Bean is crainnte na tom druis;
Bean is teogha na seachd teinteann
Bean chruaidh chainntidh mharbh i mis!


III.
“Thogain tigh air laraich luim,
Chairinn bonn ri maide cas,
Thigeadh ise 's car na ceann,
‘’S meirig a rachadh ann a steach.’


IV.
“Dhianain treothadh, dhianain buain,
Dhianain cruach mar fhear a chach,
Theireadh i mar bha i beo,
Nach robh ann ach torr air làr.


V.
“Dhianain iasgach leis an doradh,
Mharbhain langa, mharbhain sgat;
Chuireadh ise ’lamh na cliabh,
’S dh-iarradh i sid ’thoirt an chat!


VI.
“Dhianain cuman air fiodh cruaidh,
A shuidheadh gu buan air an làr;
Chuireadh i h-anam an geall,
Gun robh e ’call air a mhàs!


VII.
“Teinne ga fhadadh mu loch
Gu tiormachadh cloich an cuan,
Teagasg ga thoirt do mhnaoi bhuirb,
Mar bhuil’ uird air iarann fuar?


VIII.
“Cha truimeid an loch an lach,
Cha truimeide an t’ each a shrian,
Cha truimeid’ a chaora a h-olainn,
'S cha truimeid’ a choluinn ciall!


Fonn—“Na tri eoin chruinne-gheala dhonn,
Chruinne-gheala dhonn, chruinne-gheala dhonn,
Na tri eoin chruinne-gheala dhonn,
’S b’ iad sid na tri eoin!”

Carmichael appends a note about the song adding some interesting detail from whom and from where the reciter originally heard this piece:

Compos[ed] by a jealous wrangling pair.
Heard only once by the reciter when a girl.
Never heard it again. This was in Morar
at a wedding. Sung by a man.

References:
CW107/18, fols. 23v–24v
Stewart, Rev. Alexander [Nether-Lochaber], ’Twixt Ben Nevis and Glencoe: The Natural History, Legends, and Folk-lore of the West Highlands (1885), pp. 119–23.
Image: A Couple Arguing

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Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4

Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4
Stone whorls collected by Alexander Carmichael, held by West Highland Museum (ref. WHM 1992 13 2.4). [© carstenflieger.com]