Sunday, 5 June 2011

Plague in Mingulay III

Neil Gillies, Niall Mhìcheil Nìll
Gus crìoch a chur air an naidheachd mun phlàigh a bha uaireigin ann am Miughalaigh, seo agaibh an còrr dheth a chlàraich agus a sgrìobh Calum Iain MacGilleathain bhon t-seanchas Nèil MhicGillÌosa. Cha mhòr nach e an aon naidheachd th’ ann a thog MacGilleMhìcheil agus MacGilleathain bho dhiofar dhaoine agus mu thrì fichead bliadhna eadarra:

“Well, on a tha thusa air tìr, gun fhios nach e plàigh air choreigin a bh’ air na daoine, nuair a tha iad marbh air fad, chan fhaigh thu dhan sgothaidh idir.”
Agus dh’fhàgadh an duine ann am Miughalaigh agus thill an sgoth gu ruige Bàgh a’ Chaisteil, agus cha robh aig an duine ach a bhith ann am Miughalaigh leis fhèin, agus cha leigeadh an t-eagal dà fuireach as na taighean. Ach cò-dhiù bha e a’ gabhail beagan dhen bhiadh a bha sna taighean. Dh’fheumadh e. Cha robh an còrr ann agus ’s ann shuas as a’ bheinn a bhiodh e a’ cadal air an oidhche, agus tha a’ bheinn ann am Miughalaigh fhathast, beinn ris an can iad Beinn Mhic a’ Phì. Sin far am biodh e a’ cadal. Co-dhiù bha e cola-deug ann, agus an ceann a’ chola-deug chuir MacNèill a-null an sgoth air n-ais feuch am faiceadh e a robh duine beò, ma bha iad a dhol air, tìr agus feuch gu dè mar a bha an gnothach.
Seo mar a bha.
Dh’fhalbh an sgoth à Bàgh a’ Chaisteil air n-ais an ceann a’ chola-deug agus nuair a ràinig iad Miughalaigh, bha Mac a’ Phì rompa gun bhàn, gun dearg agus e pailt cho beò is cho fallain is a bha iad fhèin. Cha robh ach dh’iarr iad air tighinn dhan sgothaidh, agus thàinig e a Bhàgh a’ Chaisteil, agus ghabh iad leis do chaisteal MhicNèill agus sin nuair a rinn e an naidheachd air n-ais do MhacNèill:
“Agus gheibh thusa a-nist Miughalaigh dhut fhèin, ma thèid thu ann, agus sgrìobhaidh mise dhut i, gum bidh i agad fhad ’s is beò thu, agus nach urrainn duine eile dragh a chur ort.”
Well ’s e seo a rinneadh. Thill Mac a’ Phì a-null gu ruige Miughalaigh, agus thìodhlaic e na daoine a bha marbh. Chuir e ’n a’ chladh a h-uile duine aca, agus thug e a-null feadhainn eile còmh’ ris, an fheadhainn a thogair e fhèin, agus bha iad all right dheth ann am Miughalaigh, agus cha robh sgàth air dìth orra.
Siud agad mar a chuala mise e.

Here is the rest of the anecdote about the plague that once visited Mingulay that was recorded and written out by Calum Iain Maclean from the recitation of Neil Gillies. Comparing this anecdote transcribed by Maclean and that by Carmichael even though collected from different people and with a gap of around sixty years intervening, it is practically the same with only minor variations:

“Well, since you are on land, and seeing that it might be some sort of plague or another that killed them all, you can’t get back into the boat at all.”
And the lad was left stranded on Mingulay. The boat then returned to Castlebay and he was the only person remaining on Mingulay. He was so afraid he wouldn’t venture near the houses. But, in any case, he managed to pilfer some food within the homesteads. He had no other option. There was nothing else for it but the go up the hill where he would sleep at night, and that hill is still there on Mingulay which is called Beinn Mhic a’ Phì (MacPhee’s Mountain). That’s where he would go to sleep. He spent a fortnight there and at the end of this period MacNeil of Barra sent a boat back to find out if he was still alive and as they were going to land to find out how things were.
This is how things turned out.
The boat left Castlebay and went back to Mingulay after a fortnight and they found MacPhee in as rude health as they were themselves. They merely then asked him to board the boat and so he returned to Castlebay and they took him to MacNeil’s castle [Kisimul] where he told MacNeil his news:
“And you’ll get Mingulay to yourself, if you are prepared to return, and I’ll grant this to you, and you’ll own it so long as you live, and no one will trouble you.”
Well, this was done. MacPhee returned to Mingulay. He then buried the dead in the cemetery, and he also brought along with him others who he had picked out and they were well off in Mingulay as they were never in any want.
That’s how I heard it.

Reference:
IFC MS 1029, pp. 413–16, Am Plàigh ann am Miùlaidh.
Image: Neil Gillies.

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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]