Thursday, 9 June 2011

Cumha Mhic an Tòisich – Mackintosh’s Lament III

Black Steed
Around this time last year two blogs were published with regard to Cumha Mhic an Tòisich, or Mackintosh’s Lament. This short anecdote was collected by Alexander Carmichael probably from the recitation of Marion MacNeil, styled Mòr nighean Alasdair ’ic Ruaraidh Bhàin (1843–1927), Kentangaval, Barra. She tells the background to how it was composed by a lady whose husband was killed on his return from being married. His death by a black horse had been predicted so he struck the black horse with his pistol and took a white horse instead but he was careless and his feet got tangled in the stirrups and he was dragged along the ground by the horse and was killed. Carmichael was later to publish a long article about this lament in The Highlander and the version given there is based upon this short note:

This cumha was comp[osed] by a
lady whose affianced was kil[led]
in riding home from being
married. He had a spl[e]nd[id] black
horse wild to a degree
and it was faisneac[hd] that the
black horse would kill him.
That morn[in]g the black [horse] was so restive
that he leapt off his back & struck
him with his pistol. He then
took a white horse & in set[tin]g home
the white horse saw the dead
horse lying. He start[ed] & the
young man riding gayly un
guarded lost his seat & his
feet get[tin]g entang[led] in the strirrips
he was dragged aft[er] the horse
& kil[led] ere he could be rescued.
The bride was riding on before
& some turn in the road took him
out of her sight till he was
bro[ugh]t home dead & thus taigh
solais was turn[ed] into tai[gh]
dolais.

References:
CW90, fos. 50v–51r.
Carmichael, Alexander, ‘Cumha Mhic-an-Toisich’, The Highlander, vol. IV, no. 165 (8 Jul., 1876), p. 3., cc. 3 –5.
Image: Black Steed.

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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]