Page 43 - Allan the Ridge MacDonald, Gaelic Poet: An Introduction to the Mabou Bards
ISSUE : Issue 38
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1985/1/1
and warlike, and he's talking about events which happened away back in history--sort of victorious battles, for example--as if they had happened yesterday. The language is strong, it's violent, it's savage. And he glories in it. There's no a- pology for his attitude. And that was com? mon at one time in Scotland. You had a mar? tial people--war, and battles, were every? day events. But really, I think Culloden had finished that off. And certainly, I think it is anachronistic--it survived long after its time in Allan's verse. But I think he was so versed in his people's his? tory, that it was real to him. (And the way of making poetry that used that kind of e- quipment.) Exactly. To him, it was second nature. Whereas, a modern day reader might look on this as a rare survival of a style of poetry which had really died out in Scot? land. Clann Domhnuill na Ceapaich/The MacDonalds of Keppoch (Sliochd an Taighe)' Cuir am botul air a' bhord, A' ghlain' am dhorn 's gu'n ol mi slan i; An deochs' air chuimhneachan Chloinn Domhnuill, Na fir mhora bha 's a' Bhraighe; Sliochd an Taighe, sud an seorsa, H-uile h-aon tha beo dhiubh 'n drasda; Ge b'e tir 's an gabh sibh comhnuidh, 'S mi gu'n oladh ur deoch-slainte. So deoch-slainte 'n t-sar dhuin-uasail Dh'fhag mi shuas bho Abhainn Mhabou; Guidheam beannachd agus buaidh dhuit, 'S tu bhi maireann buan a' d' shlainte; Gnuis ro-fhearail bu ghlan snuadh, 'S an t-suil gun ghruaim air fiamh a' ghaire; Lean thu 'n duthchas mar bu dual A chumadh suas an cliu .'s an cairdeas. Fhir a's tairise na 'mhaighdean, Fearail, faighneachail, ro-bhaidheil, 'S nach eil smal, no car, no foill, O'm faighte coibhneas agus failte; Cridhe cruadalach an t-saighdeir, 'Bhuaileadh poic na'n tigte cearr ort; Lean gach roinn diubh riut mar oighreachd; B' ard na croinn 's 'a choill an d'fhas thu. An ceud sonn diubh threig a' Cheapach Dhearbh e ghaisge 'm brais na h-oige; La Bho-lionn chuir e am baiteal. Thill e 'chreach gu Mac-an-Toisich; Dh'fhag e Camshronaich 'san araich, 'S beag an aireamh dh'fhag e beo dhuibh; Dh'fhag e'n ceannard aig Clach Ailein 'S toitean farranaich air fheosaig. Sud an laoch bha treun 's 'a chomhraig, Bhuaileadh beum le stroic 's 'a charraid; Chum e naimhdean sios le foirneart; Thug e cis diubh dheoin no dh' aindeoin; An Gleann Ruaidhe ghabh e comhnuidh; Fhuair e coir air fhonn 's air fhearann Bho Dhearg-uillt gu Monadh-Scuadhaig Da thaobh Ruaidh gu ruig an Annaid. Sin nuair shuidhich stoc an teaghlaich Bho'n cheann-feadhna mhiarach, alainn, A' chraobh ard o'n d'fhas na miaran A rinn friamhachadh gu laidir, Eadar Gleann Ruaidhe 's Gleann-an-Spiadhain, Bho'n Rianach gu crioch na Laraig; Eadar an Lub-liath 's an Caigeann, Taobh Loch-lagain 's Abar-ardair. Put the bottle on the table The glass in my hand that I may drink it down. This drink in memory of Clan Donald. The big men of the Brae.' Sliochd an Taighe, they are the ones. Every one of them who is now alive Whatever land you take up residence 'Tis I would drink to your health. This is a toast to that fine gentleman' I left up above Mabou River I wish you blessing and prosperity And that you live long in health: That very manly appearance of cleanest hue And the smiling pleasant eye You followed tradition as was wont Keeping up fame and friendship. 0 man, gentler than a maiden Manly, concerned, very compassionate In whom is no blemish or deceit or trickery From whom one would get kindness and welcome: 0 hardy heart of the soldier Who would strike a blow if wrongly crossed, You inherited every part of these qualities Tall were trees' in the wood which reared you. The first of their heroes who left Keppoch' Proved his courage in the rashness of youth, On the day of Boloine, he fought the battle He returned the foray on Macintosh:6 He left Camerons on the field Very few he left alive of them. He left their leader' at Allan's Rock With torturing flames on his beard. That was the hardy warrior in the fray. Who would strike a blow with vigour in strife: He kept his enemies down with repression He took tax from them, willing or otherwise. In Glen Roy he made his home' He got charter to its land and territory From Red River to Monadh Scuadhaig Both sides of Roy as far as Annat. That was when the family stock was established From the handsome, branching chieftain That tall tree from which grew the branches Which rooted strongly: Between Glen Roy and Glen Spean From Rianach to the bounds of Laraig: Between Lub-liath and Caigeann Beside Loch Laggan and Aberarder. Notes: 1. Sliochd an Taighe • MacDonalds of Bohuntin. Descended from Iain Dubh, son of Raghnall Mor (c. 1513-1547). 2. The Brae of Lochaber. 3. A friend of the bard who remained behind in Mabou; could be Aonghas Mac Alasdair so often mentioned in other songs. 4. In Gaelic Bardic Poetry, the tree is frequently used as a symbol for the chieftain. 5. Alasdair Both-fhloinne (1547-1554), 8th Chief of Keppoch, fought against the Camerons in February 1554 at the Battle of Both-fhloinne. He was assisted by his brother, Iain Dubh of Bohuntin, the ancestor of Sliochd an Taighe. 6. Refers to earlier dis? putes with the Macintoshes. 7. Ewan Beag, 14th chief of Lochiel, who was killed at the battle. 8. Glenroy in Lochaber. Following place names are all in this general area. (43)
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