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Waifs 81 Strays 










Waifs and Strays of Celtic Tradition. 




Vol. V. — Remains of the Rev. John Gregorson Campbell. 

SSaifs attb Straps of Gttltxz ^rabitiott 

Series initiated and directed by 

Demy 8vo, cloth. 




Collected by the Rev. J. MacDougall ; and Notes on the War Dress of the Celts 
by Lord Archibald Campbell, xvi, 98 pages. 20 plates. 1889. 55-. 



Collected, edited (in Gaelic), and translated by the Rev. D. MacInnes ; with a 

Study on the Development of the Ossianic Saga and copious Notes by Alfred 

Nutt. xxiv, 497 pages. Portrait of Campbell of Islay, and two illustrations 

by E. Griset. 1890. 15$. 

" The most important work on Highland Folk-lore and Tales since Campbell's 
world-renowned Popular Tales.'' — Highland Monthly. 

" Never betore has the development of the Ossianic Saga been so scientifically 
dealt with."— Hector Maclean. 

" Mr. Alfred Nutt's excurses and notes are lucid and scholarly. They add 
immensely to the value of the book, and afford abundant evidence of their author's 
extensive reading and sound erudition." — Scots Observer. 

" The Gaelic text is colloquial and eminently idiomatic. . . Mr. Nutt 
deserves special mention and much credit for the painstaking and careful research 
evidenced by his notes to the tales." — Oban Telegraph. 



Collected, edited, translated, and annotated by the Rev. J. MacDougall ; with an 

Introduction by Alfred Nutt, and Three Illustrations by E. Griset. 

1891. xos. 6d. 







Collected entirely from Oral Sources by John Gregorson Campbell (Minister of 
Tiree) ; with Introduction an 1 Bibliographical Notes by Alfred Nutt. Portrait 
of Ian Campbell of Islay, and Illustrations by E. Griset. 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

Microsoft Corporation 







Collected from Oral Sources 














Introduction : Alfred Nutt, 

Memoir of the late Rev. John Gregorson Campbell, 
folk-lorist. The present work. 

His work as a 

Clan Traditions. 

Macleans of Duart, . . 

Death of Big Lachlan Maclean, . 

Macleans of Coll, .... 

Browns of Tiree, .... 

The Story of Mac an Uidhir, 

Steeping the Withies, 

Little John of the White Bag, . 

The Killing of Big Angus of Ardnamurchan, 

The Last Cattle Raid in Tiree, . 

Lochbuie's Two Herdsmen, 


Big Dewar of Balemartin, 
The Big Lad of Dervaig, 
Donald Gorm of Sleat, . 
Donald Gorm of Moidart, 
The Black Raven • of Glengarry, 
The Old Wife's Headland, . 
A Tradition of Islay, 
Fair Lachlan of Dervaig, 

Legendary History. 

Princess Thyra of Ulster and her Lovers, 
Garlatha of Harris, 






3 2 





Stories about the Fairies. 

A Housewife and her Fairy Visitor, . 
^ , The Wise Woman of Duntulm and the Fairies, . 

<-^a *- Folk Tales. 

The Two Brothers, 

The Two Sisters and the Curse, .... 
How the Daughter of the Norse King thinned 

the Woods of Lochaber, 
How O'Neil's Hair was made to Grow, 




Beast Fables. 

The Wolf and the Fox, 


The Fox and the Bird, 


The Wren, ..... 


The Two Deer, .... 


The Two Horses, .... 


The Two Dogs, .... 


The Cat and the Mouse, 


Boy's Games 

King and Kite, .... 


Parson's Mare has gone Amissing, 


Hide and Seek, .... 



I. — Finlay Guivnac, 


II. — Port Nan Long, 

l 33 

III. — A Tradition of Morar, 


IV. — Letters from the late Campbell 

of Islay, 



It has been thought well and due, by those who knew the 
late J. G. Campbell of Tiree, to give to the public more tales 
collected by him, and his sister has made over the following 
collection, selected by herself from among the tales gathered in 
the course of many years. We send them forth as a fitting 
memorial to his memory, and as another stone added to the 
cairn lovingly erected by old friends. At the end will be found 
a few letters which passed between the late minister and the 
late Iain Campbell of Islay, showing the methods of collecting 
followed by these two lovers of the folk-lore of their native 
land, and which in consequence cannot but prove of interest 
and value to those who have followed the steps of the gleaning 
of folk-tales throughout the British Isles — we may add through- 
out the world. These patient labourers in such fields were the 
true pioneers of the movement in Scotland. 

Notes, where not otherwise stated, are the author's or editors' ; 
those signed A.N. are due to Mr. Alfred Nutt ; those signed 
A.C. to the undersigned. 

Archibald Campbell. 

Feb. n, 1895. 


Memoir of the late John Gregorson Campbell, 
Minister of Tiree. 

\The following Memoir is chiefly from information given by Mr. 
CampbelPs sister, Mrs. Wallace of Hynish, thanks to whose 
unwearied and sy?npathetic assistance it was that the previous 
volume in the series, ' The Fians] was made ready for and 
passed through the press, aud that the present volume has 
been selected and put together from the mass of the fnaterial 
left by the author]. 

John Gregorson Campbell was born at Kingairloch, in 
Argyllshire, in the year 1836, the second son and fourth child 
of Captain Campbell of the Cygnet and of Helen MacGregor, 
his wife. The fondness for study, the devotion to his native 
literature and lore, which were such marked features of his life, 
and which earned for him an abiding reputation as a Gaelic 
student, would seem to have been his by birthright. His 
maternal grandfather was an ardent Gael, as may be judged by 
the letters that passed between him and Dr. Mackintosh. On 
his mother's side he was descended from Duncan MacGregor, 
13th in direct descent from the first MacGregor who settled at 
Roro, in Glenlyon, Perthshire, whilst through a paternal 
ancestor he traced back to a race that had had dealings with 
the 'good people,' and on whom a bean shith had laid the spell 
1 they shall grow like the rush and wither like the fern ' (fdsaidh 
iad mar an luachair 's crionaidh iad mar an raineach). 

The house of his birth on the shores of Loch Linnhe was 
small and lonely, and when he was three years of age his parents 
removed to Appin. His childhood was that of many young 


Highlanders. From earliest boyhood he attended the parish 
school in the Strath of Appin, walking daily with his older 
sisters the long stretch that separated it from his father's home. 
He loved to recall his early schooldays, and their memory was 
ever dear to him. He had learnt more, he was wont to say in 
after years, at that school than at all his other schools put 
together. And on the hillside and along the valley, traversed 
twice daily, he drank in a love for and knowledge of nature in 
all her manifestations that remained to him as a priceless 
possession throughout life. At ten he was sent to Glasgow for 
further schooling, passed first through the Andersonian Univer- 
sity, and went thence to the High School, preparatory to 
entering College. We have interesting glimpses of him at this 
period. He seems to have been a dreamy, quick-witted but 
somewhat indolent lad of whom his masters said, 'if Campbell 
likes to work no one can beat him ' ; hot-tempered too, as 
Highlanders, rightly or wrongly, are credited with being. The 
only Highlander in the school, he had doubtless much to put 
up with. His Glasgow schoolfellows had probably as little 
liking for Highlanders as Baillie Nicol Jarvie himself, and 
many were the petty persecutions he had to endure. He has 
himself related how he suffered several hours imprisonment for 
fighting another boy 'on account of my country.' Like all who 
are steadily bilingual from early youth he recognised how 
powerful an intellectual instrument is the instinctive knowledge 
of two languages, and was wont to insist upon the aid he had 
derived from Gaelic in the study of Hebrew and Latin. To 
one familiar with the complex and archaic organisation of 
Gaelic speech the acquisition of these languages must indeed 
be far easier than to one whose first knowledge of speech is 
based upon the analytic simplicity of English. 

From the High School he gladly passed to College, where a 
happier life and more congenial friendships awaited him. He 
had many Highland fellow-students, and at this early date his 

Introduction. xi 

love for the rich stores of oral tradition preserved by his 
countrymen manifested itself. He sought the acquaintance of 
good story-tellers, and began to store up in his keenly retentive 
memory the treasure he has been so largely instrumental in 
preserving and recording. 

After leaving college he read law for awhile with Mr. Foulds. 
In his lonely island parish he later found his legal training 
of the utmost assistance. Many were the disputes he was 
called upon to settle, and, as he has recorded, few there were 
of his parishioners who needed to take the dangerous voyage to 
the Sheriffs court on a neighbouring island. At once judge 
and jury his decisions commanded respect and acquiescence. 
At this period, and for some time previously, his interest in and 
mastery of Gaelic lengendary lore are shown by the fact that he 
acted as Secretary to the Glasgow University Ossianic Society, 
founded in 1831 by Caraid nan Gaidheal, and still nourishing. 

His thoughts and aspirations had early turned towards the 
church, and in 1858 he was licensed by the Presbytery of 
Glasgow. But suffering as he then was from the effects of 
inflammation of the lungs, the result of a chill caught in his 
student days, and the effects of which were perceptible through- 
out life, he was forbidden to preach for six months. The 
interval, spent in recruiting his shattered health, was profitable 
to his growing zeal for folk-lore studies. In Ayrshire or at 
Blair Athole he showed himself a keen and sympathetic 
collector of floating oral tradition. 

In i860 he accepted the appointment to the united parishes 
of Tiree and Coll from the Duke of Argyll, and took up the 
work which was to occupy the remaining thirty years of his 
life. It is to be wished that a sphere of activity more com- 
mensurate with his abilities had been accepted by him, as when 
he was offered the assistantship of St. Columba, Glasgow, and 
he seems at times to have felt as much. But such thoughts 
were certainly no hindrance to the performance of his duty, 

xii Introduction. 

interpreted in the largest and most liberal sense. He was the 
guide and counsellor of his flock, who turned to him with 
unfailing confidence for advice, exhortation, or reproof. An 
amusing instance of his parishioners' belief in his capacity may 
be cited ; a sailor lad from Tiree got, as sailor lads will, into 
some row in Spain and was marched off to jail. He took the 
matter philosophically, remarking, ' so long as the minister is 
alive I know they can't hurt me' (bhafhios agam cofad 's a bhd'tn 
ministear beb nach robh cunnart domh). The esteem and affec- 
tion in which he was held by his parishioners were cordially 
reciprocated by him. He is reported as saying that nowhere 
could be found a more intelligent community than the Duke's 
tenantry in Tiree, and in the preface to Volume IV. of the 
present series he bears witness to the knowledge, intelligence, 
and character of his informants. 

We do not go far wrong in conjecturing that the minister's 
zealous interest for the preservation and elucidation of the 
native traditions was not the least potent of his claims upon the 
respect and love of his flock. How keenly the Highlander 
still treasures these faint echoes of the past glories and sorrows 
of his race is known to all who have won his confidence. 
Unhappily it has not always been the case that this sentiment 
has been fostered and turned to good account by the natural 
leaders of the people as it was by John Gregorson Campbell. 

In the guidance of his people, in congenial study, in corres- 
pondence with Campbell of Islay and other fellow-workers, 
specimens of which will be found in the appendix (infra 138,), 
time passed. His mother died in 1890 at the manse, 
and his health, for long past indifferent, broke down. The 
last years of his life were solaced and filled by the work he 
prepared for the present series. At last, Nov. 22nd, 1891 
he passed from his labours and sufferings into rest, the rest of 
one who had well earned it by devotion to duty and to the 
higher interests of his race. 

Introduction. xiii 

In person Campbell was tall and fair, with deep blue eyes 
full of life and vivacity. He was noted at once for the kindli- 
ness of his manner, and for the shrewd causticity of his wit. 
The portrait which serves as frontispiece is taken from the only 
available photograph, and represents him in middle life. 

His Work as a Folk-Lorist. 

The Gaels of Scotland cannot be accused of indifference to 
the rich stores of legend current among the people. From the 
days of the Dean of Lismore, in the late 15th century, onwards, 
there have not been wanting lovers and recorders of the old 
songs and stories. Unfortunately, in the 18th century, a new 
direction was given to the national interest in the race traditions 
by the Macpherson controversy. I say unfortunately, because 
attention was thereby concentrated upon one section of tra- 
dition to the neglect of others equally interesting and beautiful, 
and false standards were introduced into the appreciation and 
criticism of popular oral literature. Valuable as are the 
materials accumulated in the Report of the Highland Society, 
and generally in the voluminous literature which grew up round 
Macpherson's pretentions, they are far less valuable than they 
might be to the f olk-lorist and student of the past, owing to the 
misapprehension of the real points both of interest and at issue. 
Two generations had to pass away before Scotch Gaelic folk- 
lore was to be studied and appreciated for itself. 

To Campbell of Islay and the faithful fellow-workers whom he 
knew how to inspire and organise, falls the chief share in this 
work, belongs the chief honour of its successful achievement. 
The publication of the Popular Tales of the West Highlands 
was epoch-making, not only in the general study of folk-lore, 
but specially for the appreciation and intelligence of Gaelic 
myth and romance. No higher praise can be given to John 
Gregorson Campbell than that his folk-lore work is full of 
the same uncompromising fidelity to popular utterance, the 

xiv Introduction. 

same quick intuition into, and sympathetic grasp of popular 
imagination as Islay's. His published work has indeed a 
somewhat wider range than that of Leabhar na Feinne and 
the Popular Tales of the West Highlands, as it deals also 
with those semi-historic traditions, the nearest equivalent the 
literature of these islands can show to the Icelandic family sagas, 
which Islay excluded from the two collections he issued. The 
following is a complete list, so far as can be ascertained, of 
the published writings of John Gregorson Campbell, in so far as 
they relate to the legendary romance, history and folk-lore of 
Gaelic Scotland. 

In the "Celtic Review," (1881-85). 

No. I. p. 61, West Highland Tale : How Tuairisgeal M6r was 
put to death. ,_ 

,, II. . p. 115, The Muileartach : a West Highland Talef (1 >/ 

,, III. p. 184, West Highland Tale : How Fjonn went to the 
Kingdom of Big Men.' 21 

,, IV. p. 262, West Highland Tale : MacPhie's Black Dog. 

(1) Reprinted The Fians. p. 131-158. 

(2) Reprinted The Fians. p. 175-191. 

In the Transactions of the Inverness Gaelic Society. 

Vol. XIII. (1888) p. 69, Tale of Sir Hallabh O'Corn. 
„ XIV. (1889) p. 78, Healing of Keyn's Foot. 
,. XV. (1890) p. 46, Fionn's Ransom. 

,, XVI. (1891) p. in, The Pigmies or Dwarfs ( Na h-Amhuisgean ). 
,, XVII. (1892) p. 58, The Fuller's Son or School of Birds. 

In the Celtic Magazine, Vol. XIII, (1887-88.) 

^ No. 148, p. 167, Battle of Gavra or Oscar's Hymn. 

,, 149, p. 202, do. do. do. (Continued). < 3 ' 

(3) Reprinted The Fians, p. 28-48. ^4^ 

K \^ 

Introduction. xv 

Highland Monthly. 

Vol. I. No. 10. p. 622, Introduction, &c. 

Waifs and Strays of Celtic Tradition. 

Argyllshire Series, No. I. : The Good Housewife (p. 54-69). 
Argyllshire Series, No. IV. : The Fians : or Stories, Poems, and 

Traditions of Fionn and his Warrior Band. Collected entirely 

from oral sources. 1891. 

In presenting his material to the English reader Campbell may 
profitably be compared with Islay. In few ways was the 
work of the latter more fruitful than in his mode of rendering 
Gaelic into English. It is impossible, for instance, to look at 
the work done of late by the distinguished Irish folk-lorists who 
are adding a new chapter to Gaelic romance, at the work of 
Douglas Hyde and W. Larminie and Jeremiah Curtin, and not 
recognise how much in point of colour and tone and smack 
of the soil their translations excel those of the pre-Campbell 
generation. Islay may, at times, have pushed his theory of 
idiomatic fidelity too far, occasionally where he aims at a 
rendering he achieves a distortion, but as a whole the effect of 
strange, wild, archaic atmosphere and medium is given with 
unerring — one would call it skill, did one not feel that it is the 
outcome of a nature steeped in the Gaelic modes of conception 
and expression, and bold enough to invent the English requisite 
to give an adumbration of them. For indeed the speech of 
the Popular Tales is a distinctive variety of English, deserving 
study both from the philologist and the artist in words. Islay 
himself never handled this speech to better effect than did John 
Gregorson Campbell in the fine tale, for instance, of Sir Olave 
O'Corn (Gaelic Soc. of Inverness, Vol. XIII.,), or in the 
Muileartach (Waifs and Strays, Vol. TV.), though as a rule he 
keeps closer than Islay to the ordinary standard of English 
expression. Readers of this volume cannot fail to note the 
exceeding skill with which the pithy, imaginative turns of 
thought, so plentiful in the original, are rendered into English. 

xvi Introduction. 

The reader is at once taken out of nineteenth century civilisa- 
tion, and, which is surely the first thing required from the 
translator, by the mere sound and look of the words carried 
back into an older, wilder, simpler and yet, in some ways, more 
artificially complex life The difficulty of rendering Gaelic into 
English does not lie in the fact of its possessing a rude 
simplicity which the more sophisticated language is incapable 
of reproducing, but rather in that, whilst the emotions and 
conceptions are close to the primitive passions of nature in a 
degree that our civilisation has long forsworn, the mode of 
expression has the richness of colour and elaborate artificiality 
of a pattern in the Book of Kells. To neglect the latter 
characteristic is to miss not only a salient feature of the original 
but to obscure the significance of a dominant factor in the 
evolution of Gaelic artistry. 

That Campbell, like Islay, felt the paramount necessity 
of endeavouring to reproduce the formal characteristics of 
his Gaelic text is certain ; like Islay, he too, had the true 
scholar's regard for his matter. To put down what he 
heard, to comment upon what he found, was his practice. 
It seems obvious, but many collectors neglect it all the same. 
Nor in his essays at interpretation is he other than in full 
sympathy with his subject. He not only understands but 
himself possesses the mythopoeic faculty, and if this is 
endowed with a wider knowledge, a more refined culture than 
belonged to the Gaelic bards who first gave these songs and 
stories their present shape, or to the peasants and fishermen who 
lovingly repeat them, it differs in degree only, not in kind. It 
may be doubted that the framers of the Muileartach consciously 
embodied the conceptions which Campbell has read into the 
old poem (Waifs and Stray 's, IV. pp 1 31-135), but I think 
it certain that he does but give shape with the precision of a 
a higher culture to ideas which, with them, never emerged from 
the stage of mythic realisation. 

Introduction. xvii 

The Present Work. 

Most of the matter contained in the present volume had been 
partially, if not definitely, prepared for press by the author. 
The choice and arrangement are largely due to his sister, Mrs. 
Wallace, his devoted fellow-worker. Still it must not be for- 
gotten that we have here a collection of posthumous remains 
which have not enjoyed the benefit of the author's final shaping 
and revision. But it has been judged best by the editors of 
the series to preserve these remains substantially as they were 
left, with a minimum of indispensable revision. The volume 
may lose in other respects, but it is, at all events, the work of 
the author and not of his editor friends. The latter have 
felt that regard for the genuineness of Mr. Campbell's text was 
the first of their duties towards his memory. 

This volume thus represents the contents of Campbell's 
note-books rather than provides such an ordered collection of 
material, bearing upon a particular section of Gaelic folk-lore, 
as he has furnished in the preceding volume of this series. 
But for this very reason it yields better evidence to the wealth 
and variety of Gaelic popular tradition. A large portion of 
the book is local legendary matter, and is closely analogous to 
what the Icelandic Sagas must have been in one stage of their 
development, a stage overlaid by the artistry of a greater school 
of prose story tellers than ever took the sagas of Gaelic Scot- 
land in hand. Professor York Powell has well analysed the 
phase through which such stories as those of Burnt Njal or 
Egil Skallagrimm's son must have passed before they reached 
the form familiar to us.* He describes the popular narrator 
working up a mass of local, fairly authentic detail about his 
hero, running it into a'conventional mould, and then fitting the 
result into a scheme- of wider historic scope. The Gaelic 
matter preserved alike by Mr. Campbell in this volume and by 

* Folk-Lore, June, 1894. 

xviii Introduction. 

Mr. MacDougall in the first volume of the series has not got 
beyond the local anecdote stage, though, as in the variant forms 
of the tale of the Grizzled Lad and MacNeill (p. 5, 
et seq.), we can see the conventionalizing process at work, 
accentuating certain details, discarding others, with the view of 
transmuting the blurred photographic variety of life into the 
clear-cut unity of art. But the process is rudimentary. It is 
^strange" that this should be so considering the wealth of con- 
ventional situations that lay ready to the hand of the Gaelic 
story teller in the highly elaborated sagas of Cuchulainn and of 
Finn, for the purpose of moulding the achievements of historical 
Campbells, MacLeans and MacNeills, into a satisfactory artistic 
form. Such convention as is apparent in these scraps of sagas 
is related to that of the folk-tale rather than to that of the great 
heroic legends. An interesting example is afforded by the 
story of Mac an Uidhir. This may well have a basis of fact, 
indeed Campbell cites an actual analogue, but it has been run 
into the shape of an ordinary separation and timely-recognition 
folk-tale. Other instances will present themselves to the reader 
and afford instructive study of the action and reaction upon 
each other of folk-life and oral narrative legend. 

Any fresh addition of moment to the considerable recorded 
mass of Scottish local historic tradition increases the wonder 
that material of such vigour and interest, full of the clash of 
fierce primitive passion, rich in character, should have had 
so little literary outcome. The stuff is not inferior to that of 
the Icelandic tales, but instead of a first-rate contribution to 
the world's literature we have only a chaos of unworked up 
details. Yet during the time that these implanted themselves 
and took shape in the popular memory, Gaelic story-tellers, 
elaborating and perpetually readapting the old mythic and 
heroic traditions of the race, were producing narratives of rare 
and exquisite charm. Perplexity is intensified if, as Professor 
Zimmer maintains, the Norsemen learnt the art of prose narra- 

Introduction. xix 

tive from the Irish and developed the great school of Icelandic 
story telling on lines picked up in Gaeldom. Certain it is that the 
Irish annals, relating the events of the 3rd to 9th centuries, 
which assumed their present shape sometime in the 10th 
to the 1 2th centuries, contain a large amount of historic 
narrative that is closely allied in form and spirit to the con- 
temporary Scotch Gaelic sagas. There is the same-4irectness 
of narrative, the frequent picturesqueness of incident, the pithy 
characterisation; there is also the same failure to throw the 
material into a rounded artistic form, and, most curious of all 
resemblances, the conventions at work distorting historic fact 
are those of the folk-tale rather than of the national heroic 
epos. I would cite in this connection certain episodes of the 
Boroma* (in itself an admirable example of the failure of Gaelic 
story tellers to work up into satisfying form very promising 
historical material) such as that of Cumascach's visit to 
Brandubh, or again many passages in the stories about Ragh- 
,allach and Guaire. The whole subject is, as nearly everything 
else in the record of Gaelic letters, fraught with fascinating 
perplexities. The present writer can but here, as he has so 
often done before, make a big note of interrogation and trust 
that Gaelic scholars on both sides the water will consider the 
problem worth study, and succeed in solving it. 

I note those points which interest me as a student of tradition 
in general, and of Celtic tradition in particular. For most 
readers these scraps of local history derive their chief value 
from the vivid light they flash back upon the past, from the 
evidence they yield of the wild, fierce — I had almost written 
savage — life from which we are separated by so few generations. 

* The Boroma, the story of the tribute imposed upon Leinster 
by Tuathal Techtmar in the second century and remitted in the 
sixth century, has been edited and translated by Mr. Whitley 
Stokes, (Rev. Celt.) and by Mr. Standish Hayes O'Grady in 
Silva Gadelica. 

xx Introduction. 

Some there may be to mourn for the past. Not a few Highland 

landlords will possibly regret the good old days when the 

MacLean planted his gallows in the midst of the island of 

Tiree, and the last comer with his rent knew what awaited him 

(p. 13). Truly a more effectual means of getting in the money 

than by writ which the sheriff cannot execute. 

The remainder of the volume comprises matter more upon 

the usual folk-lore lines ; much, familiar already but valuable 

in the good variant form here recorded, much again novel, like 

the curious tale of the Princess Thyra and her lovers. Taken 

in conjunction with the author's previous volume in this series 

on the Finn tradition as still living in the Western Highlands, 

the whole offers a faithful picture of the imagination, memory, 

and humour of the Gaelic peasant playing round the old-time 

beliefs, stories and customs handed down to him from his 


Alfred Nutt. 

I append a list of the chief informants from whom Mr, 
Campbell derived the material contained in Vol. IV. and V. of 
the Argyllshire series of Waifs and Strays of Celtic Tradition. 

Malcolm MacDonald, Scarnish, Tiree. 

Malcolm MacLean, Kilmoluaig, Tiree. 

Hugh MacDonald, do. do. 

John MacLean, (bard), Balemartin, Tiree. 

Hugh Macmillan, (tailor), Tobermory. 

Angus MacVurrich, Portree, Skye. 

Duncan Cameron, (constable), Tiree. 

Allan MacDonald, Mannal, Tiree. 

Donald Mackinnon, Balevoulin, Tiree. 

John Cameron, ( Iain MacFhearchar), Balevoulin, Tiree. 

Archibald Mackinnon, ( Gilleasbuig ruadh nan sgeirean 
dubha), Tiree. 

Donald Cameron, Ruaig, Tiree. 

Donald Macdonald, Mannal, Tiree. 

Malcolm Sinclair, Balephuil, Tiree. 

John MacArthur, (tailor), Moss, Tiree. 

Duncan MacDonald, Caolis, Tiree. 

Neil MacLean, (the elder), Cornaig, Tiree. 



The first MacLeans, Wily Lachlan (Lachunn Lubanach), and 
Punctilious Hector (Eachann Reanganach), came to Dunolly to 
MacDougall. He sent them provisions and made his men 
watch to see if they were gentlemen. It was inferred they 
were, from their paring cheese, or, throwing the remains of 
their food to the dogs. On leaving Dunolly they came to Aros 
in Mull. This word Aros is the one regularly used to denote a 
royal residence or palace, and the Lords of the Isles claiming 
an independent sovereignty, their residence in Mull came to be 
called Aros, a name which it still retains. Their residence in 
the north was Duntulm, and in the Sound of Mull, Aros and 
Ardtornish. The view from the old castle of Aros up and 
down the Sound is very commanding, and that from Ardtornish 
is equally so. The MacLeans on coming to Aros found 
Peddle Mbr (a south country ploughman to MacQuyiuill of the 
Isles) who sent them food, but gave no knife and fork, telling 
them to put hen's bills on (guib-chearc) to take it. On coming 
to him they found him bending to repair a failing in the plank 
board (faillinn na fliuch-bhiiird ), or keel board, of a galley 
(birlinn) with which he was to go to meet his master. 

The Lords of the Isles to make their estate appear greater 
employed, from the name, evidently a south countryman at 
agricultural work, hence the name Peddle which is not of 
Highland origin. They struck off his head and went them- 
selves to meet MacC6nnuill whom they took prisoner, and 
brought to MacDougall. He however would take nothing to 

MacLeans of Dowart. 

do with the captive. At the advice of an old man they then 
returned with their prisoner to Aros, and got him pledged to 
give his daughter to one of them. Lachlan married the 
daughter and got Dowart. 

It is said by some that Hector was the oldest of the two 
brothers, and that when MacC6nnuill the Lord of the Isles was 
out pleasure-sailing with his daughter, the brothers overtook his 
galley and seizing him said "The omen of your capture has 
overtaken you" (" J^ia m ajzgrf&jlo ghlacaidh o rt " ). He had 
no ransom to offer but his daughter and lands. Lachlan took 
the daughter, and with her he got the lands of Dowart. The 
other got the lands of Lochbuy. MacC6nnuill gave for food 
to the child born of the Dowart marriage Little Hernisker with 
its twenty-four islands (Earnasgeir bheag le Uuid eileanan). 
Afterwards, at Ardtornish, the fourth or fifth descendant of 
Dowart asked the then Lord of the Isles for a livelihood 
(mathair bheaihachaidh). He got the reply, " Jump the wall 
where "it" is lowest " ( u Leum an garadhfar an isle e "J which 
led to Ardgour being taken from MacMaster, who was known 
at the time to be no favourite with the Lord of the Isles, and 
the attack made upon his land was readily commuted into a 
chartered possession. The tradition is as follows : 

The Lord of the Isles was lying sick at Ardtornish. The 
MacC6nnuill, now commonly called MacDonald, claimed a 
jurisdiction independent of the Scottish Crown till about 1493 
a.d. or thereabouts, and many if not all the chiefs of the 
Western Highlands and Islands paid him court. Among 
others MacMaster, chief, or proprietor, of Ardgour, came 
to pay his respects at that time. Ventilation was not 
then so much regarded in the case of the sick as it is 
now, and MacMaster, being offended at some breath from the 
sick chamber, said Ftikh, fiiich, an expression of disgust' and 
offence. Unfortunately for himself the inadvertent expression 
was made a handle of, and was never forgiven to MacMaster 

MacMaster and Carrascally. 

by the Lord of the Isles. In consequence, when the Laird of 
Dowart, who was married to a near relative of his, came to ask 
for a means of livelihood (mathair bheathachaidh) to the child 
born of his marriage with the kinswoman of the Lord of the 
Isles, the potentate said to him, " Jump the wall where it is 
lowest" (Leum an garadh far an isle e). The youth or young 
man being now of age to shift for himself, a company of men 
and a boat was given him by his father, and he made for 
Ardgour. A battle was then fought and MacMaster was 
defeated. One of MacMaster's sons, who was sumamed the 
Fox (An sionnach), possibly because weakness often seeks to 
protect itself by wiliness and deceit or any other artifice that 
will give protection. In these stormy days any such means 
were more excusable. The Fox made his way to go across at 
Corran to the mainland after the battle. His father's fisherman 
was then fishing in the neighbourhood of the ferry at Red Bay 
(Port Dearg), and the Fox called to him to-fehf©*rhim across X&T^ 
to the other side. The fisherman who rejoiced in the caco- \ 
phonous name of Carrascally ( Mac-a-Charrusglaich), was deaf 
to his cry, and he only said that the cuddie fish was taking well 
(" Gu 'n robh gabhail mhaith air na cudainnean ") or that he 
lost his oars, and the young MacMaster had to hide himself in 
the adjoining wood. When the MacLeans came to the place, 
Carrascally said that there was a fox of the Mac Masters still 
hiding in the wood, and the MacLeans pursued him. The 
cairn, or heap of stones, is still shown where the Fox was 
overtaken and slain. 

Some say it was MacMaster himself, and not his son, who 
was flying after the defeat by the MacLeans, and was refused 
to be ferried by the fisherman, and that his son who was called 
the Fox, and had committed some fraud when abroad, was 
caught in Inverscaddel wood and was stabbed by MacLean. 

The fisherman, who was rascally in more than name, came 
to MacLean and made claim to having done good service in 

MacLeans of Dowart. 

having refused to help the fugitive ; and in having pointed out 
that he was still in the wood. MacLean upon this put up 
three oars and made a gallows with them, on which he hanged 
the fisherman, or Carrascally, at the hangman's cove (Port-a- 
chrochaire), saying if he had treated his master as he said he 
had done, it might be his turn another day, and the fisherman's 
cunning recoiling upon himself has passed into a proverb " The 
ofnciousness, or discretionary power of MacCarrascally chasing 
MacMaster's Fox," ( " Meachanus Mhic a' Charrasglaich ruith 
Sionnach Mhic a' Mhaighstir" ). The MacLeans have ever 
since retained Ardgour, and have been esteemed for their 
position as Highland proprietors. Their title . in Gaelic is 
Mac- Ic-Eoghain (the son of the son of Hugh). The son of 
the son of, or grandson, (Mac-Ic-) being the word used in the 
Highlands of Scotland as the patronymic of Chiefs, instead of 
the O, or Grandson, used in Ireland, as O' Donnell, O' Brian, 
O' Meagher, &c. Thus, the son of the son of Patrick (Mac- 
' Pc-Phadruig) denotes Grant of Glenmoriston ; the son of the 
son of Alexander ( Mac- Ic-Alasdair), the Chief of Glengarry ; 
son of the son of Hector ( Mac- Ic-Eachuinn), MacLean who 
had once Kingairloch. The title of some Chiefs is only son 
of (Mac) ; as, Lochiel is known as the son of Dark Donald 
( Mac Dhduil Duibh). The leading Highland Chief is known as 
Mac Cailein (the son of Colin). The House of Argyll derives 
its Gaelic title from Colin, who was slain in a clan feud at the 
battle on the mountain known as the String of Lorn (An 
t-Sreang Lathurnach) when the ford, known as the Red Ford 
(Ath Dearg), ran red with blood. 


(Lachunn Mhr Dhuart). 

The Chiefs of Duart were among the most powerful and 
influential chiefs in the Highlands. Their power was absolute, 
bearing the control of neither King nor Parliament, and there 
are many stories shewing that they were very unsparing in 
visiting with their vengeance, and even taking the lives of those 
who offended them. 

A very notorious sea-robber and land plunderer of whom 
there are many tales in the Isle of Skye raised a creach, or 
cattle-spoil, from Macdonald Lord of the Isles, who then 
occupied a fort on the site of the present manse of Kilchoman 
in Islay. He managed also to circulate a report that it was the 
MacLeans from Mull who were the depredators. At that time 
MacLean, Duart, was ambitious to be overlord of a great 
part of Islay, and Lachunn Mor came with a band of followers 
to Gruinard beach in the neighbourhood of the fort. 

It is said that before leaving Mull, he was standing on the roof 
of Aros Castle which overlooks the Sound of Mull and on its 
being pointed out that an expedition to Islay would be very 
dangerous to his men, he said, that he did not care though 
there should not be a MacLean in Mull except those descended 
from himself. Neither he himself nor his men came back 
from the ill-fated expedition. After landing at Gruinard beach 
(Traigh Ghrunnard) he was met by the Macdonalds. A little 
man, known in tradition as the Black Elf (Dubh Sith) and 
(Ochd-rann bodaich), or eighth part of a man — [In Scotch the 
eighth part would be the lippie used for measuring grain and 
meal. According to the table to be found in old Reckoning 
Books a boll consists of two pecks and each peck of four lippies. 

Lachlan MacLean. 

This makes each lippie equal to an eighth part of a boll], — 
offered his services for the battle to MacLean, but the haughty 
Chief rejected the offer with disdain. The Black Elf then 
went to MacDonald, who accepted his offer; and during all the 
current of the heady fight the dwarf was observed to follow 
MacLean for an opportunity to kill him with an arrow. An 
opportunity having at last occurred by MacLean lifting his 
arm, an arrow was launched and MacLean was pierced on the 
side, and fell with a deadly wound. Having lost their Chief 
the MacLeans were routed with loss, and those who escaped 
from the battle, having taken refuge in a neighbouring church, 
were destroyed by the Mac Donalds, who set the church on fire. 
The body of Lachunn Mbr was taken on a sledge, there being 
no wheeled vehicles in those days, to Kilchoman burying- 
ground. Some say that the person who took him was his wife, 
and others say it was his foster-mother. His head from the 
motion of the sledge nodded in a manner that made the boy 
who accompanied her laugh. She was so much offended at his 
ill-timed merriment that she took a sword and killed him on 
the spot. The site of this tragedy in Benviger is still pointed 
out and the place where Lachunn Mbr himself was buried 
is known to the people of the place although no headstone 
marks it. 


The Laird of Dowart was on his way to gather rent in Tiree, 
and sent ashore to Kelis (Caolas), Coll, for meat (biadhtachd). 
The woman of the house told MacLean was not worth sending 
meat to, and Dowart kindly came ashore to see why she said 
so. She said it because he was not taking Coll for himself. 
Three brothers from Lochlin had Coll at the time, Big Annla 
(Annla Mor) in Loch Annla, another in Dun bithig in Tot- 
ronald, and the third in Grisipol hill. She had thirty men 
herself fit to bear arms. Dowart went to Loch Annla fort late 
in the evening alone, and was hospitably received. Annla's 
arrows were near the fire, and Dowart gradually edged near 
them till he managed to make off with them. This led to a 
fight at Grimsari and is perhaps the reason why Dowart en- 
couraged Iain Garbh to make himself master of Coll. 

Stout John (Iain Garbh) was fourth MacLean, — others say 
the first of Coll. When nine or twelve months old, his mother, 
having become a widow, had married MacNeill of Barra, Iain 
Garbh was sent by his step-father to Barra, in charge of a 
nurse (ban-altruim). This woman was courted by a Barra- 
man, whom, as her charge was a pretty boy, she at first refused. 
Her lover, however, got word that Iain Garbh was to be killed 
at MacNeill's instigation, and told her. The three fled, in a 
boat with two oars, from Barra during night. An eight-oared 
galley (ochd ramhach), with a steersman set off in chase. At 
Sorisdale in Coll, beyond Eilereig, in the borderline (crtch) 
between Sorisdale and Boust, there is a narrow sound, for 
which both boats were making, and the little one was almost 
overtaken. It was overtake and not overtake (beir 's cha bheir). 

MacLeans of Coll. 

The little boat went through the sound (caolas) safely, but the 
oars of the large boat were broken. Hence, ' The Sound of 
Breaking Oars' (Caolas ' Bhriste-Ramh) is the name of the 
Sound to this day. The little boat put to sea again, and was 
lost to sight. The Barra men went to every harbour near, 
"The Wooded Bay" (Bagh na Coille) &c., where they thought 
it might come, but they never saw it again. It is supposed it 
went to Mull. There is no further mention of the Barra man 
or the nurse. Stout John (Iain Garbh) went to Ireland, and 
when well grown told the woman with whom he stayed that he 
had a dream of a pile of oaten cakes (tbrr de bhonnaich choirce) 
and a drip from the roof (boinne snithe), had fallen and gone 
right through them. The woman said the dream meant he was 
a laird of land (ceannard fearainn) and would get back his own. 
On this he came to Mull, and having got men, of whom seven 
were from Dervaig, the baldheaded black fellow, (gille maol 
dubh) afterwards known as Grizzled Lad (Gille Riabhach) 
being one of them with him, went to Coll. His companions 
vowed to kill whatever living (beb) they fell in with first, after 
landing in Coll. Stout John (Iain Garbh) had a mark on 
the forehead by his having fallen on the edge of an iron pot. 
His fostermother (muime) was gathering shellfish (buain maor- 
aich). He went to speak to her, when he came behind her as 
she stumbled, and she exclaimed, " God be with MacLean " 
(" Dia le Mac-illeathairi'), " My loss that MacLean is not alive" 
(" Mo sgaradh nach bu mhairionn do Mhac-illeathain" ). When 
pressed to explain herself she said, " Conceal what I said : 
many an unfortunate word women say" ( u Deanj^jtmaith 
orm: is ioma facal tubaisdeach their na mnathan"), and at last 
heboid her his story. It had been long foretold that he would 
return. The Mull men came up, and the Grizzled Lad (Gille 
Riabhach) was going to kill the woman, according to the vow. 
Stout John (Iain Garbh) told who she was, and her life was 
spared. She informed them that MacNeill sent a servant 

The Grizzled Lad and MacNeill. 9 

every day from Grisipol House, where his headquarters were, 
to Breacacha for news. If all was well, the messenger was to 
return riding slowly with his face to the horse's tail ; if any one 
returned with him, a friend was to walk on the right of the 
horse, a stranger (fbgarach) on the left ; and she said that he had 
just left on his way home. Stout John (Iain Garbh) and his 
companions left the Hidden Anchorage (Acarsaid Fhalaich) 
and went to the top of the place called Desert (Fasach). They 
there saw the rider of the white horse at Arilebid. Stout John 
(Iain Garbh) promised reward to any one who would intercept 
him, before he reachd Grisipol. The Grizzled Lad (Gille 
Riabhach) said he would do so, if he got Dervaig, his 
native place, rent free. MacLean promised this, but the 
lad said, " Words may be great till it comes to solemn oaths " 
(Is mbr briaihran giin-Jughad&k and made him swear to the \ - 
deed. The Grizzled Lad (Gille Riabhach) set off, and above 
the Broad Knoll (Cnoc Leathan) saw the horseman at the 
township of Hough. When at the Stone of Moaning 
(Clach Ochanaich), on the top of Ben Hough, he saw him 
past Clabbach. He made for the road, near the present Free 
Church Manse, and lay down, and pretending to be a beggar 
began to hunt through his clothes. Where the Little Cairn of 
the King's Son (Carnan mhic an Righ) stands, the horseman 
came up, was pulled off his horse and killed. The lad then 
waited till his companions came up, and proceeded to Grisipol 
with two on each side. It was dinner time, and his servant the 
Black Lad (Gille Dubh) brought word to MacNeill of the party 
coming. His wife, looking out of an opening, said one of the 
party coming looked like her son. MacNeill exclaimed, " War 
time is not a time for sleep" (" Cha-n am cadal an cogadh"), 
and went out to give battle. In the fight the Grizzled Lad 
(Gille Riabhach) was hard pressed by the Black Lad, (Gille 
Dubh)> and sideways jumped the stream that runs past Grisipol 
House at the place still known as the Grizzly Lad's leap (leuni 

io Mac Leans of Coll. 

a' Ghille Riabhaich) to avoid the blow of the battle-axe. The 
axe stuck in the ground, and before it was recovered, the 
Grizzly Lad (Gille Riabhach)^ jumping back, threw off the 
Black Lad's (Gille Dubh) head. Stout John (Iain Garb A) was 
hard pressed by MacNeill himself, and both were out in the 
sea at the foot of the stream. 

" Disgrace on you MacLean, though it is enough that you 
are being driven by the son of the skate-eating carl" ("Miapadh 
ort, a Mhic Hlleathainn, 's leoir tha thu gabhail iotnain roimh 
Mhac bodach nan sgat"), said the Grizzly Lad (Gille Riabhach) 
coming up to them, and then calling to MacNeill, " I am not 
in a mood to deceive you, there they are behind you " (" Cha 
bhi mi 'm brath faille dhuit, sin iad agad air do chulthaobh "), 
and when MacNeill turned round the Grizzly Lad (Gille 
Riabhach) threw off his head with the axe. The MacNeills 
fled and were beset and killed in the Hollow of bones (Slochd- 
nan-cnamh) in the lower part of Grisipol Hill (Iochdar Beinn 
Ghrisipol). They then returned to Grisipol, and MacNeiU's 
widow, Stout John's (Iain Garbfis) mother, held up her child 
a suckling (ciocharan), that Stout John (Iain Garbh) might 
spare him and acknowledge his own half-brother. He was for 
sparing it, but the Grizzly Lad (Gille Riabhach) told him to 
put the needle on the ploughshare (cuir an t-snathad air 
a! choltar). The child was killed. 

An additional if not a different account is : 

Stout John (Iain Garbh) first of Coll, when a boy, was 
obliged to fly from Coll to Dowart, and his mother married 
MacNeill of Barra. When he came of age, and was for 
making good his claim to his native island, in raising the clan 
he came to a widow's house in Dervaig. She said her other 
sons were away, or they would be at his service, and she had 
only a big stripling of a grizzly looking lad (Stiall mbr de ghille 
riabhach) if he choose to take him. He took him, and it was 
well for him he did. It is said that this family of whom the 

MacNeill's Death. n 

Grizzly Lad (Gille Riabhach) was one, and whose services were 
at MacLean's command, were Campbells. MacNeill kept a 
man with a white horse at Arinagour, and if the MacLeans 
were heard to land in the island, he was to ride off at full speed 
to Breacacha. If anything was wrong the messenger was to 
turn his head to the horse's tail when he came in sight of 
Breacacha. The Grizzly Lad (Gille Riabhach) took across the 
hill, where there is now a straight road, and intercepted this 
rider. On hearing from him that MacNeill was at Grisipol, he 
suddenly leapt behind him on the horse, and killed him with 
his dirk. He rode back to his own party, and then slowly to 
Grisipol where the MacNeills were at dinner. 

MacLean and his men were faint and weary for want of 
food. They had not tasted anything since they left Mull. 
They entered a tenant's house and asked food. The man had 
nothing for them, once he had enough, but since the MacLeans 
had left the island, he had come to grief and poverty. He 
said to Stout John (Iain Garbh) his heart warmed to him, he 
was so like his ancient masters. On learning who they were 
he gave all the milk he had to them. 

At the fight at Grisipol, the Grizzly Lad (Gille Riabhach) 
was hard pressed by MacNeill's body servant, who was armed 
with a battle-axe. On the margin of the stream, as the axe 
was raised to strike down, he leaped backwards, and upwards, 
across the stream, and the place of the leap is still known as 
the l Grizzly Lad's leap ' (leum a' Ghille Riabhaich). The axe 
went into the ground, and before MacNeill's man could defend 
himself the Grizzly Lad (Gille Riabhach) jumped back and 
threw off his head. 

Stout John (Iain Garbh) himself was hard pressed by 
MacNeill, and driven to the beach. The Grizzly Lad (Gille 
Riabhach) came to his rescue. MacNeill's wife cried out to 
Stout John (Iain Garbh) her son by her first marriage, that his 
enemies were coming behind hin, The Grizzly Lad (Gille 

12 Browns of Tiree. 

Riabhach) called out to him to watch his enemies in front, and 
he would watch those behind. 

MacNeill and his men were killed. The Grizzly Lad (Gille 
Riabhach) said he would take to flight and pretend to be one 
of the MacNeills, of whom another party was coming to the 
rescue from Breacacha. He fled and made signals to the 
MacNeills to fly. They fled to a cave near the Hidden 
Anchorage (Acarsaid fhalaich) where their bones are still 
to be seen. 

When Stout John (Iain Garbh) entered Grisipol house, his 
mother stood before him with a child, his half brother, on her 
shoulder. She told him to look at his young brother smiling 
at him. Stout John (Iain Garbh) was for sparing the infant 
but the Grizzly Lad (Gille Riabhach) warned him, the child if 
spared to come of age would avenge his father's death, and he 
himself stabbed the infant with his dirk on his mother's 

( Cla nn-a-Bhrutha in). 

The Browns of Tiree at the present day are called Brunaich, 
sing. Brunach, evidently a word not of native origin, and 
likely an adaptation of the English Brown. Brown as the 
name of a colour is an English word but not Gaelic, the Gaelic 
for it being donn, hence as a clan name many affirm that the 
Brown of the present day is a corruption or modification of 
Bruthainn certainly the older name, and till very recently, the 
name given to a sept or portion of the Browns. There are also 
many who maintain that the oldest form of all is Mac-'ill-duinn. 

Browns of Tiree. 13 

Other explanations are also put forward in behalf of the origin 
of the name, but none of them are satisfactorily conclusive. 
The following story of how the Browns came first to Tiree is a 
tradition as like to be true as any other. It was heard from a 
native of the island, well acquainted with the traditions of his 

The wife of MacLean of Dowart was a daughter of the Lord 
of the Isles. Her father on visiting her at Aros had found her 
destitute of table-linen, and on her being spoken to on the subject, 
she said that there was no place on the estate where lint could 
be grown. Her father then gave her the island of Tiree as a 
good flax-growing country, that she might not be open to that 
reproach any longer. In this way the island of Tiree remained 
in the possession of the Dowart family till the forfeiture of the 
clan towards the end of the seventeenth century. The 
MacLeans seem to have ruled the island with a rod of iron. 
There is still shewn the hillock called the Bank of the Gallows 
(Bac na Croiche), where the man who came in last with his 
rent at collection time was hanged. A party of strong men 
called 'MacLean's attributes' (buaidheanan Mhic : ilkathain) 
but more correctly oppressors and bullies, were kept in the 
island to overawe the people. 

This wife of Dowart, with her galley and men, was at Croig 
in Mull, awaiting for a passage across to Tiree. When the 
men were getting the galley in order, a big strong man was 
observed making his way to the boat, His appearance was 
that of a beggar, with tattered and patched garments (liiirichean). 
He quietly asked to be allowed a passage with them. The 
master of the boat gruffly refused, saying, that they would not 
allow one like him to be in the same boat with their mistress, 
but the beggar said that his being there would make no 
difference, and asked the favour of getting a passage from her. 
She gave him permission and he seated himself at the end of 
the boat furthest from her to avoid giving trouble to her. The 

14 Browns of Tiree. 

day was becoming boisterous ; it was not long till the master 
said that the wind was becoming too high, and the day unlikely. 
A heavy sea was shipped wetting the Lady of Dowart, and the 
beggar said to the master, "Can you not steer better than 
that?" The master said "Could you do better?" The beggar 
replied " It would not be difficult for me to do better than that 
at any rate. Show me the direction where you wish to go," 
and on it being shewn to him he added " I think you may go 
on that you will make land." 

"What do you know?" the other said, "it is none of your 
business to speak here." 

The Lady then spoke, and said to the beggar, "Will you 
take the boat there if you get the command of it?" He said 
he would, and she gave orders to let him have the command. 
He sat at the helm and told them to shorten sail, and make 
everything taut, and now, the boat did not take in a thimbleful 
of water. They made for Tiree, and the place come to was 
the lower part of Hynish, at the furthest extremity of the 
island. The first place of shelter which the beggar saw, he let 
the boat in there. The little cove is still known as the Port of 
the Galley ( For t-na-Bir linn) on the south side of Barradhu 
where the present dwellings belonging to the Skerryvore Light- 
house are. The company landed safely, and on parting the 
Lady of Dowart told the beggar man to come to see her at 
Island House, where the residence of the Dowart family was at 
that time, and which is still the proprietory residence of the 
island. The name Island House is derived from its present 
site having been formerly surrounded by the water of the fresh- 
water lake near it. It communicated with the rest of the island 
by means of a draw-bridge, but there being now no necessity 
for this safeguard the space between the house and the shore 
has been filled up, and the moated grange has become like 
ordinary dwelling houses. The stranger wandered about for 
some time, and then went to the Island House and was kindly 

Browns of Tiree. 15 

received. After a day or two, he thought it would be better to 
get a house for himself, and the Lady of Dowart said that she 
would give him any place that he himself would fix upon. 
Apparently the island was not much tenanted then, and 
according to the custom of the time, he got a horse with a 
pack-saddle on, and on the ridge of the saddle (cairb na 
srathrach), he put the upper and lower stones of a quern 
(brathuinn), one on each side of the horse, secured by a 
straw, or sea-bent rope, and wherever the rope broke it was 
lucky to build the house there. The beggar-man's quern fell 
at Sunny Spot (Griana/J, now better known as Greenhill. He 
built a bothy there, and a woman came to keep house for him. 
By her he had a son, whom he would not acknowledge. When 
the child was able to take care of itself she went again to him 
with it that she might be free. He still refused to receive the 
child and told her to avoid him. She then thought as she had 
heard from him before where he came from, that she would 
go with her son to his relatives in Ireland. When she arrived 
there the child's grandfather received her very kindly. She 
stayed with him till her son had grown to manhood (gus an 
robh e 'na Ian duine). As she was about to return the grand- 
father said to his grandson, "Which do you now prefer, to 
follow your mother, or stay with me ?" The lad said he would 
rather follow his mother, and risk his fortune along with her. 
They came back to Tiree again, and the son would give no 
rest till they went to see his father. When they reached the 
bothy the mother said "you will surely receive your son to-day 
though you would not acknowledge him before." But he would 
not any more than at first. His son then took hold of him, 
and putting his knee on his breast, said, " before you rise from 
there you will own me as your lawful son, and my mother as 
your married wife." He did this and was set free. They then 
lived together and built a house, and houses, and increased in 
stock of cattle. One wild evening in spring, when they were 

1 6 Browns of Tiree. 

folding the cattle, they observed a stout looking man of mean 
appearance coming from Kilkenneth, still a township in that 
part of the island, and making straight for the house. 

" I never saw a bigger man than that beggar," said the son. 

"He is big," the father said, "I well know what man it is; 
he is coming after me, and I will lose my life this night, I 
killed his brother, but it was not my fault, for if I had not 
killed him, he would have killed me." 

" Perhaps you will not lose your life to-night yet," said the 
son, " be kind to him, and when he has warmed himself, ask 
him to go out with us to kill a cow, for the night is cold." 

The stranger came in and was made welcome. The old man 
then said since there was a stranger, and the night chilly, they 
better take a cow and kill it. They went out and brought in 
the cow. The young man said to the stranger, " Which would 
you rather, take the axe, or hold the cow's horn?" (Co dhiu b' 
fhearr lets an tuath na 'n adharc). The stranger chose to hold 
the horn, and the blow by which the beast was felled was so 
sudden and unexpected that the stranger fell with it. The 
youth immediately fell upon him and kept him down, saying, 
" You will only have what you can do for yourself, till you tell 
why you came here to-night (Cha bhi agad ach na bheir thu g'a 
chionn gus an aidich thu 'de thug so an nochd thu). He told 
word for word how he came to avenge his brother's death. 
(DH innis efacal air anfhacal mar thainig e thoirt mack eirig 
a bhrathair). 

" You will not leave this alive " said the young man, " until 
you promise not to molest my father while you remain in the 
country." The stranger vowed, if released he would not 
offend anyone. He was allowed to remain and they passed the 
night cheerfully and peacefully (gu sona samhach). The 
stranger returned the way he came. The father and son then 
settled together, and are said according to tradition, to have 
been the first Browns in Tiree. 

Browns of Tiree. 17 

Another version of the story is, that the first settler in 
Greenhill was a Campbell, and that he was the maker of those 
underground dwellings (tighean falaich) which still exist on 
that farm ; curious habitations, which are unlike any building 
now in use, and worthy of closer examination by antiquarians. 
It is said that there are buildings with similar entrances exposed 
by sand blowing and covered with a great depth of earth in 
Tra-vi at the distance of two miles or more further south. 

There is a precipice on the west side of Kenavara hill called 
Mac-a-Bhriuthainn's leap (Leurn Mhic-a-bhriuthainn) which one 
of this sept of Browns is said to have jumped across backwards, 
and which no one has since jumped either backwards or 
forwards. The one who took the jump is said to have been 
chased by a wild ox, which pushed him over the hill, and if he 
had not been a man of steady eye and limb, the fall would 
have ended in sure destruction. The place where he leapt was 
a ledge in the face of a precipice where the slightest over- 
balance or weakness, would have precipitated him several 
hundred feet into a dangerous and deep sea. No trained tight- 
rope dancer ever required more sureness of eye and limb than 
must have been brought into action in this leap. 

In the top of the same hill (Kenavara) there is a well, 
Briuthainn's Well ( Tobar Mhic-a-Bhriuthainn), which is said 
to have its name from the first who came to the island having, 
in his wanderings, subsisted on its water and wild water-cress. 



The name Mac-an-Uidhir is not borne by any person now 
living, so far as the writer is aware. Like many other names 
it may have been changed into MacDonald, or some other 
clan- name. When a person changed his name to that of some 
other clan, or powerful chief, he was said to accept the name 
and clanship (Ainm 'sa chinneadhdas). This name must, at 
one time, however, have been common. The ford between 
Benbecula and S outh Uist is called " The ford of the daughter 
of Euar " (Faoghail Nic an Uidhir), and Nic-an-Uidhir is also 
named by the Lochnell bard as a sister of Headless Stocking 
( Cas-a'-M/iogain), a well-known witch, who lived so long ago 
as when Ossian the poet was a boy (giulla?i). 

" Did ever you hear mention 

Of Rough Foot-gear daughter of Euar ? 

She was young in Glenforsa, 

When Ossian was a young boy ; 

She was going about as a slip of a girl 

With Headless Stocking her sister. 

I am a wretched creature after them 

Not knowing what became of them." 

("An cuala sibhse riamh iomradh 
Mu Chaiseart Gharbh, Nic an Uidhir ? 
Bha i bg an Gleann Forsa 
Nar bha Oisean 'na ghiullan j 
Bha i falbh 's i 'na proitseach 
Le Cas-a'-Mhogain a piuthar. 
'S mise an truaghan 'nan d&gh 
'S gun fhios gu de thainig riu.") 

Mac-an-Uidhir. 19 

The person of whom the following story is told, lived at 
Hynish in the island of Tiree, and had become engaged to a 
young woman in the neighbourhood. Between the espousal 
and marriage, the engaged couple went with a party of friends 
for a sail to Heisker, near Canna. The men of the party went 
ashore seal-hunting and one of the young woman's disappointed 
suitors took advantage of the opportunity to get Mac-an-Uidhir 
left behind, and coming back to the boat told that the intend- 
ing bridegroom had been drowned. By this lie he hoped to 
make the bride despair of seeing her intended any more, and 
by renewing his own attentions, to get her to consent to accept 
himself. She, however, not believing that he was dead, said 
that she would marry no one for a year and a day from the 
date of his alleged drowning. [Heisker means high rock,* and 
this one, near the island of Canna, is called the High Rock of 
Windlestraws (Heisgeir nan Cuiseag). It has no one living on 
it. At the present day a few young cattle are grazed upon it, 
and a boat comes for them in spring from Canna, which lies to 
the N.E. It is not otherwise visited except once or twice a 
year by seal-hunters.] 

At first, Mac-an-Uidhir subsisted on birds and fish' eaten 
raw ; after his powder and shot were expended, he had to keep 
himself alive upon whelks, or whatever he could get along the 
shore, principally whelks. This sort of shellfish is said to 
keep a person alive though he should have no other means of 
subsistence, till he becomes as black as the shield or wing of 
the whelk (co dubh ri sgiath faochaig). The abandoned and 
castaway youth lived in this way for three quarters of a year ; 
but at last he got away from the islet, and for the last three 
months of the year was making his way home. He arrived on 
the night on which the marriage of his intended to his 

* The islet near North Uist, on which the Mona Light house is 
built, is called the High Rock of the Monks, Heisgeir nam Manach. 

20 Mac-an- Uidkir. 

unscrupulous rival was to take place. He went to the house 
of his foster-mother, who did not know him, his appearance 
through his privations having becoming so much changed, and, 
he having asked to be allowed to remain for the night, she said 
she was alone, and could not let a stranger like him stay. She 
also told of the festivities in the neighbourhood, and said that 
he had better pass the night there. He asked the occasion of 
the festivities : she told him how her foster-son had been 
drowned, and supplanted, and that this was the night of his 
rival's marriage, saying, " If they are happy I am sad, another 
one being in the place of my foster-son " (Ma tha iadsan 
subhach tha mise dubhach dheth, fear eile bhi dol a?i aite mo 
dhalta). She then added, "this time last year, he perished 
when he went with a party to hunt seals in Heisker; his 
intended vowed that she would not marry for a year, in the 
hope of his returning, as she had not been quite satisfied that 
he had been drowned, and to-night the time is expired." 
"Let us go'" he said, "to see them." 

"You may go," she replied, "but they are near enough to 
me as it is." He then asked her if she did not recognise him, 
and told who he was, but she refused to believe him, saying 
her dear child (mo ghradh) could not be so much altered in the 
time. He put the matter out of question by asking if she 
would know her own handiwork, and shewing what was left of 
the hose (osain) she had given him, to convince her. When 
she saw the labour of her own hands (saothair a lamhfhein), 
she joyfully welcomed him, and went with him where the 
marriage party were. Those who were there were surprised to 
see her arrival, knowing the sad state in which she was at this 
time of year, through the loss of her foster-child. They, 
however, received the stranger as well as herself with the 
utmost kindness. The bride made the remark, when the 
stranger turned his back, that he was like Mac an Uidhir but 
when his face was towards her he appeared like a stranger 

Mac -an - Uidh ir. 2 1 

whom she had never seen before ; but that her heart warmed 
towards him. The custom was then gone through of the 
stranger drinking out of the bride's glass, and Mac-an-Uidhir 
when doing this, slipped a j ing in to the g lass, which, she 
immediately recognised as that of her first lover. The whole 
matter was then upset, and the party for whom the preparations 
were made were dispersed, and the bride followed the fortunes 
of her first lover. 

Of a song made by the foster-mother to Mac-an-Uidhir, 
when he was reported to have been drowned, and was looked 
upon as dead, the following verses have been preserved. In 
the translation the literal words are given, but no attempt is 
made at reducing them to the rhyme which is essential in 
English poetry. 

" Thou good son of Euar 

Of generous and noble heart 
At one time little I thought 

It would ever happen 
That you would be drowned 

And your boat return empty 
While its irons would last 

And repair was not needed 
While its stern-post stood, 

Its sides and prow, 
While yards would hold out, 
Or a fragment of its oak. 
Your well ordered new plaid 

Is on the surface of the grey waves 
Your head is the sport of the little gull 

And your side of the big gull ; 
Your sister is without brother 

And your mother without son 
Your bride without husband 
And poor me without god-son." 

2 2 Mac-an- Uidhir. 

Ach a dheagh Mhic an Uidhir 

'G an robh an cridhe fial farsuinn 
Bha mi uair 's beag shaoil mi 

Gu 'm faodadh sid tachairt 
Gu 'm biodh tus' air do bhathadh 

'S do bhata tighinn dachaidh 
Fhad 's a mhaireadh a h-iaruinn 

'S nach iarradh i calcadh 
Thug horoinn O. 

Fhad 's a mhaireadh a h-iaruinn 
'S nach iarradh i calcadh 

Fhad 's a mhaireadh a h-earluinn 
Agus tathadh 's a saidhean 

Fhad 's a mhaireadh a slatan 
Agus bloidhean d' a darach 
Thug horoinn O. 

Fhad 's a mhaireadh a slatan 
'S bloidhean d' a darach : 

Tha do bhreacan iir uallach 
Air uachdar nan glas thonn 

'S fuil do chinn aig an fhaoilinn 
'S fuil do thaobh aig an fharspaig 
Thug horoinn O. 

'S fuil do chinn aig an fhaoilinn 

'S f huil do thaobh aig an fharspaig : 

Tha do phiuthar gun bhrathair 
'S do mhathair gun mhac dheth 

Do bhean 6g 's i gun cheile 

'S truagh mi fh&n dheth gun dalta. 
Thug horoinn O. 

Mac -an- Uidhir. 

There is quite a modern instance, perhaps about the 
beginning of this century, of a native of the islet of 
Ulva, near Mull, having been driven during a snowstorm 
to Heisgeir-nan-Cuiseag (High Rock of Windlestraws) and 
passing the winter there alone till he was taken off early in the 
following summer. He, too, must have subsisted on whelks 
and what he could get along the shore. He was going home 
from Tiree. 

Anxious to be at home at the New-year O.S., he, with a 
companion, left Tiree, and before going far a snowstorm came 
on, and the wind increased in violence till they were driven 
they did not know where. The companion got benumbed and 
died in the boat. It could only be said by the survivor that 
they passed very high rocks on some island. 

The boat was cast ashore on Heisker, and the poor man 
left in it had to pass the winter as best he could, without food 
or shelter. 

The islet is too distant from Canna for him to have been 
observed by any signal he could make. 


There is an expression in Gaelic "It is time to steep the 
withies" (" Tha'n t-am bhi bogadh nan gad"), meaning, it is 
time for one to leave or make his escape from the company he 
is in. This expression is said to have arisen in this way. A 
little undersized man and good archer was sitting on a stool by 
his own fireside, when enemies intent on securing his person 
came in to the house. He sat quietly, but his wife going back- 
wards and forwards through the house, and being ready-witted, 
when she understood the character of the intruders, gave a slap 
on the ear to her husband saying, as if he were merely the herd 
boy, " It is time to steep the withies " (" Tha '« t-am bhi bogadh 
nan gad"). He immediately left the house, and she managed 
to put his bow and arrows out at the window. He having 
stationed himself in a favourable locality did not allow a single 
one of his enemies to leave the house without killing them with 
his arrows, one by one as they came out at the door. Regarding 
the truth of this story it is noticeable, that uniformly throughout 
the Highlands the expression, " It is time to steep the withies " 
(" Tha 'n t-am bhi bogadh nan gad"), means, not that it is time 
to prepare for action, but that it is time for one to make him- 
self scarce. A story of the same kind is told of King Alfred 
the Great, that he escaped from his enemies in somewhat the 
same way. In olden times the harnessing of animals for 
carrying burdens, ploughing, etc., was done by means of 
withies made of willow, sea-bent,* or other accessible material, 
iron being scarce and difficult to procure, and these withies had 
to be steeped before work with them was commenced. It 

* Tough Grass growing- by the shore. 

Little John of the White Bag. 25 

required a good deal of acquaintance with the work before the 
horse was fully equipped with pack-saddle, creels, and other 
equipments for which withies were necessary, and the only 
means available. The names of some of these withies still 
survive e. g. the Gad-tarraich is the Gaelic name still in use, 
although the material is leather, and not withies, to denote a 

(Iain Beag a' Bhuilg Bhain). 

This doughty little archer was attached to the family of the 
MacLachlans of Coruanain, or little Lamb-dell, near Fort- 
William, on the borders of Inverness-shire and Argyleshire. 
He derived his name from his carrying a white bag of arrows, 
which he was very skilful in the use of. In far off and 
unsettled times, when a foray or creach was being taken from 
Coruanain, one of the raiders, having met little John, said, 
"Little John of the White Bag, I will mount the hill side 
quicker than you " (Iain bhig a' Bhuilg Bhain, bheir mise am 
fireach dhiot). In a struggle it is always an advantage, even 
when other things are even, to have the higher position on a 
hill side. Little John replied, "The hand of your father 
and grandfather be over you, White Stirk, I will put the 
Brankes (or Iron Gag) on you (" Lamh d' athair *s do sheanair 
ort, a Ghamhain Bhain cuiridh mise biorach ort"). The 
biorach, branker, was a spiked iron gag, or instrument set with 

26 Big Angus of Ardnamurchan. 

pointed iron pins, fixed round the head of calves to keep them 
from sucking. The expression "The hand, &c, be over you'' 
was a common expression, meaning much the same as the 
English " Look out," or " Take care of yourself." Saying 

this, Little John let fly an arrow which struck the other in the 
forehead, toppled him over, and put an end to the discussion. 


(Aonghas Mor MacVll'-Eo/n), Big Angus, Son of John, 
At Cor-Ospuinn in Morven. 

In Ardnamurchan, where the district of Kintra commences, 
there is a streamlet that falls into Loch-Moidart, which lies 
along the north of Ardnamurchan, called Faoghail Dhbmhnuill 
Chonalaich. This streamlet derives its name from Donald 
MacDonald, or MacConnell, having been slain there under 
the following circumstances. Tradition is uniform as to the 
incident which gave its name to the place, and as to the 
circumstances under which the murder was committed. 
Donald was the heir to the chieftainship of Ardnamurchan, 
but his uncle, Big Angus, wishing to secure the estate for 
himself, waylaid his nephew at the ford mentioned, which is 
very difficult to jump across when the tide is in, as he was on 
his way to be married to a daughter of the then Chief of 
Lochiel. While Donald was jumping across the ford, one of 
Big Angus's men shot an arrow in his face, so that when he 

Big Angus of Ardnamurchan. 27 

touched the ground on the other side, he staggered and reeled. 
Before he fell prostrate Big Angus said that he would wonder 
if his nephew would dance as merrily at his marriage with the 
daughter of the One-eyed Chief of meat-broth (saoilan dannsadh 
tu co cridheil sin air banais nighean Cham-na-eanraich). The 
meaning of this nick-name given to the Chief of Lochiel is 
a covert allusion to the cattle-lifting of Lochiel. Before the 
introduction of tea, extract of meat was largely made use of, 
and even meal was mixed with it for those in strong health, 
but weak, and even chicken broth, was given to those who 
were in delicate health. Some say that the Chief referred 
to was Ailein nan Creach (Allan the Cattle-lifter), who 
derived his name from the number of cattle-spoils that 
he lifted. Lochaber being a wild and remote district was 
not unnaturally a place to which cattle forays were taken when 
people sought "the beeves that made the broth" in other 

In Gregory's History of the Western Islands Dbmhnull 
Conalach is called John, probably from the Chiefs of Ardna- 
murchan being known as Mac-'ic-Iain, the son of the son of 
John, and mention is made of his murder. Several families 
who have in recent times come to Coll from Ardnamurchan 
call themselves Johnstones. 

Big Angus himself had a house near Strontian strongly 
fortified according to the ideas of those days. It was surrounded 
by a deep ditch (Tigh daingean dige) and what is now called a 
moated Grange. On hearing that Lochiel with a strong band 
of followers was on his way to avenge the death of the young 
Chief of Ardnamurchan, Big Angus fled, but he was closely 
pursued by the avengers. Having come to Cor-ospuinn in 
Morven he looked behind him, when the sun was rising, to see 
if his pursuers were coming. Lifting his helmet and shading 
his eyes with his hand when looking intently sunwards, one of 
the pursuers, a little man, remarked, " Would not this be a 

28 Big Angus of Ardnamurchan. 

good opportunity for killing him?" Another answered, "It 
is not your trifling hand that would slay the powerful man." 
(Cha 'n i do lamh leibideach a leagadh an duine foghainteach). 
The little man replied, " Would not an arrow do it " (Nach 
deanadh saighead e), saying this, he launched an arrow which 
struck Big Angus in the forehead and killed him. 

N O T E . 


(Aonghas mdr Mac 'ic Eoin) 

The incidents of this story occurred about 1596. The house of the 
redoubtable Angus was at Ath na h-dilde (Ford of the Hind (deer), 
opposite Druim-nan-torran (The Ridge of Knolls), near Srbn an 
t-slthean, Strontian, the Promontory of the Fairy Dwelling-. He had 
a bad wife, who was continually urging him to make himself Chief of 
the clan, and it was at her instigation that he waylaid his nephew at 
Kintra. On hearing that the Chief was to be married to the daughter 
of Lochiel, his wife warned big Angus that he would yet be reduced 
to draw the peat creels (tarruing nan cliabh mbine) for his nephew. 
Angus was the first to be at Kintra, at the river, and the first to 
cross. The guests were assembled at Lochiel for the marriage of 
Donald MacDonald, when word was brought of his having been 
slain. Immediately the assembled guests with their followers set off 
to take vengeance, and, finding Big Angus's house deserted, they 
tied tinder ( sfiong* ) to an arrow and set the moated house on fire. 
The place where Angus was slain in Morven is still called Leacna 
Saighead (The Ledge of the Arrow), and the archer was Iain Dubh 
Beag Innse-ruith (Little Black John of Inch-rui). Big Dugald Mac- 
Donald ( Dughal mbr MacRaonuil), of Morar had his hand similarly 
fastened by an arrow to his forehead. 

* Amadon — made from a fungus, a.c. 


It seems to have been a kind of raid or robbery to which the 
island of Tiree was particularly liable. Plunderers and pirates, 
having chosen a suitable day when the seas about the island 
were at rest, and the cattle could be easily got on board the 
galley, or birlinn, carried on depredations far and wide on the 
island. Once the cattle were got by them on board the galley, 
they looked upon themselves as safe from pursuit. 

There are two traditions in existence of the island having 
been so visited, and their fate will illustrate the manner in 
which, in unsettled times, such expeditions were conducted. 
The last foray of the kind was not successful, but the cattle 
and sheep were collected for taking away. The people got 
warning in time, and the cattle-lifters had to make their escape, 
leaving their booty behind them. 

The last successful foray was in the days of the Tanister 
of Torloisk, and seems to have been only sometime previous 
to or about the '45. The account which tradition gives of it is 
that the Tanister, or second heir (proximus ZiaeresJ, of Torloisk 
in Mull was called Malise MacLean. His first name is some- 
what peculiar, and not common among the MacLeans or any 
other West Highland clan, and was given to him in this manner. 
The heir of Torloisk was a promising healthy boy, but the 
succeeding children of the then chief were dying young. The 
Chief was then advised by the sages of his race to give to his 
child the name of the first person whom he met on the way to 
have the child baptized. The first person encountered was a 
poor beggar man who had the name of Malise. A name given 
in this way was known as ainm rathaid, or road name, and was 
deemed as proof against evil. The father gave this name to 


30 The Last Cattle Raid in Tiree. 

the child who survived and became Tanister. Being without 
the prospect of an estate the Tanister thought he would come 
to Tiree, and piece by piece get an estate for himself. He 
came to have the half, third, or other share of the town-ship of 
Baik-?neadhonach, now called Middleton, in Tiree, and married, 
and his descendants are still known. 

One day, a galley, with sixteen men on board (Blrlinn 's sea 
fir d/ieug), came to Soraba beach. The men landed and collected 
every live animal that was about the place. At the time, the 
Tanister happened to be fishing at the rocks in Kenavara Hill, 
and on coming home soon after and hearing what had been 
done, he called to his neighbours asking them what they meant 
to do, were they going with him to turn the raid (creach). They 
all refused for fear of being killed, as the freebooters were a 
strong party. He said, " I will not do that ; I prefer to fall in 
the attempt (tuiteam 'san oidhirp), rather than let my cattle 
be taken." He took with him his sword and followed the 
spoilers. When he came to the end of the pathway and within 
sight of the galley, he stood before the creach. The freebooters 
told him to leave the road or he would feel the consequences 
(Gu'm biodh dbhuil dha). He answered, "I will not leave, and the 
consequences will be to you, until I get my own." He got this 
as he seemed determined, and when he had got it, he asked also 
the cow of a poor woman from the same township as himself, and 
having got this also, he said they might do with the rest what they 
liked. The plan of the robbers was to drive the cattle to the 
beach, where the galley was, and throwing them down and 
tying their forelegs together (ceangal nan ceithir chaoil), place 
them on bearers, or planks, and put them in the boat. When 
they had done so, they made off, and no one knew whence 
they had come or whither they went. This was the last 
succesful raid of the kind raised in Tiree. 

Subsequent to this creach, and in the time of Mr. Charles 
Campbell being Minister of Tiree, several galleys, or birlinnean> 

The Last Cattle Raid in Tiree. 31 

each with its complement of men, and in addition each with a 
pretending minister and his man, made their appearance on the 
coast of Tiree. In those days every minister took his man 
along with him, and in this case each minister but one took his 
man from the boat. Wandering open-air preachers were in 
those times called hillock ministers (ministearan nan cnoc), and 
the one to whom the story refers was to officiate at Ceathramh 
Mhurdat, or Fourth Part, called Murdat, now embraced in the 
farm of Hough,* and which was then thickly populated. Having 
sent due intimation round of his serviceT^nosTof the people 
were drawn to hear him. His man was left behind to give 
him warning of any disturbance of the expedition which might 
occur. After he had been speaking for some time his man 
came in. The islanders had become aware of the nature of 
the invasion. The sheep and the horses were gathered at 
the back of the hill of Hough, and a band of the cattle- 
lifters had surrounded them for to drive them to the 
shore. A number who had not got to the preaching had 
observed this, and following them, took the sheep and horses 
from them. Immediately, the minister's man ran with all 
possible speed to warn the preacher at Murdat. When he 
came to where the sermon was, the preacher concluded, and 
handing the book to his man, venturing to think that the 
people would not understand him, said, as if reading a line, 
" MacLellan, beloved friend, where did you leave the Shockum 
sho ? " — i.e., the booty. (Mhac-ill-fhaolain, a dhuine ghaolaich, 
<? aite an d } fhag thu an 'seogam seotti 1 ). The incomer 
taking the book, and as if intoning the psalm, said, " Matters 
are worse than we thought ; they have taken from us the 
plaintive bleaters " ('s miosa tha na mar a shaoil : thug iad 
uainn an * cirri-nieh } J : cirri-meh is but an imitation of the 
bleating of slieep, and is found used in different localities as a 
pet or ludicrous name for sheep. 

* Pronounced Hoch. 

32 Lochbuies Two Herdsmen. 

The people sang along with the precentor. They did not 
know but that the words may have been part of the psalm, 
when one who was smarter and more ready-witted than the 
rest got up and said, " We have been long enough here, these 
men are robbers, and not ministers." The service was con- 
cluded, the people going to look after their cattle, and the 
minister and his man making their way with all speed to where 
the galleys lay. Before the people could overtake them, they 
got on board and made off, leaving their booty behind, and 
glad to escape with their lives. 


This tale was written down as it was told by Donald Cameron, 
Rudhaig, Tiree, more than twenty-five years ago, and to whose 
happy and retentive gift of memory it is a pleasure to recur. 
He had a most extensive stock of old lore, and along with it 
much readiness and willingness to communicate what he knew. 
In this the ludicrous element is natural, and the events seem to 
follow each other as a matter of course, so that the tale, so far 
as probability is concerned, may be true enough. It is one of 
the few tales to which a date is attached, and so far as history 
can be consulted the state of the country at that time makes 
it probable enough. Loch Buie is a district lying to the South 
of the Island of Mull, pleasantly situated. The tale runs as 
follows : — 

Lochbuie s Two Herdsmen. t>Z 

In 1602 Lochbuie had two herdsmen, and the wife of one 
herdsman went to the house of the other herdsman. The 
housewife was in before her, and had a pot on the fire. "What 
have you in the pot ?" said the one who came in. " Well there 
it is," she said, "a drop of brochan which the goodman will 
have with his dinner." 

" What kind of brochan is it ? " said the one who came in. 

" It is dubh-bhrochan" (see note 1) said the one who was in. 

" Isn't he, said she, " a poor man ! Are you not giving him 
anything but that ? I have been for so long a time under the 
Laird of Loch Buie, and I have not drank brochan without a 
grain of beef or something in it. Don't you think it is but a 
small thing for the Laird of Loch Buie though we should get an 
ox every year. Little he would miss it. I will send over my 
husband to-night, and you will bring home one of the oxen." 

When night came she sent him over. The wife then sent 
the other away. The one said, " you will steal the ox from the 
fold, ana you will bring it to me, and we will be free ; I will 
swear that I did not take it from the fold, and you will swear 
that you did not take it home." 

The two herdsmen went away. In those days they hanged 
a man, when he did harm, without waiting for law or sentence, 
and at this time Lochbuie had hanged a man in the wood. 
The herdsmen went and kindled a fire near a tree in the wood 
as a signal to the one who went to steal. One sat at the fire, 
and the other went to steal the ox. 

The same night a number of gentlemen were in the mansion 
(2) at Loch Buie. They began laying wagers with Lochbuie that 
there was not one in the house who would take the shoe off the 
man who had been hanged that day. Lochbuie laid a wager 
that there was. He called up his big lad MacFadyen (see note 
3), and said to him was he going to let the wager go against 
him. The big lad asked what the wager was about. He said 
to him that they were maintaining that there was no one in his 


34 Lochbuies Two Herdsmen. 

court who could take the shoe off the one who had been hanged 
that day. MacFadyen said he would take off him the shoe and 
bring it to them where they were. 

MacFadyen went on his way. When he reached, he looked 
and saw the man who had been hanged warming himself at a 
fire. He did not go farther on, but returned in haste. When 
he came they asked him if he had the shoe. He told them he 
had not, for that yon one was with a withy basket of peats 
before him, warming himself. " We knew ourselves," said the 
gentlemen, " that you had only cowards." 

The lameter, who was over, said, " It is a wrong thing you 
are doing in allowing him to lose the wager. If I had the use 
of my feet, I would go and take his leg off as well as his shoe 
before I would let Lochbuie lose the wager." 

" Come you here," said the big lad, " and I will put a pair of 
feet that you never had the like of under you." He put the 
lameter round his neck (lit. the bone of his neck), and off he 
went. When they came in sight of the man who was warming 
himself the lameter sought to return. MacFadyen said they 
would not return. They went nearer to the man who was 
warming himself. The one that was at the fire lifted his head 
and observed them coming. He thought it was his own 
companion, the one who had gone to steal the ox, who was 
come. He spoke and said, "Have you come?" " I have," 
said MacFadyen. " And have you got it?" "Yes," said Mac- 
Fadyen. "And is it fat?" 

" Whether he is fat or lean, there he is to you," and he threw 
the lameter on to the fire. 

MacFadyen took to his heels (lit. put on soles) and fled as 
fast as ever he did. Off went the lameter after him. He put 
the four oars on for making his escape. The one at the fire 
rose, thinking there were some who had come to pry upon 
himself, and that he was now caught. He went after the 
lameter to make his excuses to the Laird of Loch Buie. The 

Lochbuies Two Herdsmen. 35 

lameter was observing him coming after him, feeling quite sure 
that it was the one. who had been hanged. 

MacFadyen reached, and they asked him if he had taken the 
shoe off the man. He said they did not ; that he asked him if 
the lameter was fat, and that he was sure he had him eaten up 

home. He went away with him and never got the like, going 
through hill, and through mud and dirt, till he came to the 
house of the other woman. He knocked at the door. The 
wife rose and let him in. 

" How have things happened with you ?" " Never you mind, 
whatever ; but, alas ! he has been hanged since we went away." 

The wife took to roaring and crying. 
Do not say a word," he said, " or else you and I will be 

34 Lochbuies Two Herdsmen. 

court who could take the shoe off the one who had been hanged 
that day. MacFadyen said he would take off him the shoe and 
bring it to them where they were. 

MacFadyen went on his way. When he reached, he looked 
and saw the man who had been hanged warming himself at a 
fire. He did not go farther on, but re.tnrnpH in ™«- 

The translation of lines 6 and 7 renders the Gaehc 
exactly. Translated more freely into English it would run 
"and the lameter came, and with yon terrified cry demanded 
admittance, saying that the hanged man was coming after h,m. 

me lameter on to the fire. 

MacFadyen took to his heels (lit. put on soles) and fled as 
fast as ever he did. Off went the lameter after him. He put 
the four oars on for making his escape. The one at the fire 
rose, thinking there were some who had come to pry upon 
himself, and that he was now caught. He went after the 
lameter to make his excuses to the Laird of Loch Buie. The 

Lochbuie s Two Herdsmen. 35 

lameter was observing him coming after him, feeling quite sure 
that it was the one who had been hanged. 

MacFadyen reached, and they asked him if he had taken the 
shoe off the man. He said they did not ; that he asked him if 
the lameter was fat, and that he was sure he had him eaten up 
before now. The lameter came, and that cry in his head for 
to let him in, for that yon one was coming. He was let in. 
The moment this was done, the one who had been on the gallows 
knocked at the door, to let him in. Lochbuie said he would 

" I am your own herdsman." They now let him in. He 
then began to tell how he and the other herdsman went to 
steal the ox, and that he thought it was the other herdsman 
who had returned, and it was that made him ask if he was fat. 
Lochbuie and his guests had much sport and merriment over 
this all night. They kept the herdsman till it was late on in 
the night telling them how it happened to him. 

The one who went to steal the ox now came back and 
reached the tree where he left the other herdsman, but found 
no one. He began to search up and down, and became 
aware of the one dangling from the tree. 

14 Oh," said he, " you have been hanged since I went away, 
and I will be to-morrow in the same plight that you are in. It 
has been an ill-guided object, and the tempting of women that 
sent us on the journey." 

He then went over and took the man off the tree to take him 
home. He went away with him and never got the like, going 
through hill, and through mud and dirt, till he came to the 
house of the other woman. He knocked at the door. The 
wife rose and let him in. 

44 How have things happened with you ?" " Never you mind, 
whatever ; but, alas ! he has been hanged since we went away." 

The wife took to roaring and crying. 
Do not say a word," he said, " or else you and I will be 

36 Lochbuie s Two Herdsmen. 

hanged to-morrow. We will bury him in the garden, and no 
one will ever know about it. " And now," he said, " I will be 
returning to my own house." 

The one that was in Loch Buie thought it was time for him 
now to go home. He knocked at his own door. His wife did 
not say a word. He then called out to be let in. 

•' I will not," said the wife, "for you have been hanged, and 
you will never get in here." 

" I have not yet been hanged," he said. 

" Be that as it may to you," she said, " you will never come 

The advice he gave himself was to go to the house of the 
other herdsman. He called out at that one's door to let him in. 

" You will not come in here. I got enough carrying you 
home on my back, and you after being hanged." 

There was a large window at the end of the house. He went 
in at the window. " Get up," he said, " and get a light, and 
you will see that I have not been hanged any more than your- 
self." When he saw who he had, he kept him till morning, 
till day came. They then talked together, telling each other 
what had happened to them on both sides, and thought they 
would go to Lochbuie, and tell him all that occurred to them. 
When Lochbuie heard their story, there was not a year after 
that but he gave each of them an ox and a boll of meal. 


Ann an 1602 bha da bhuachaille aig Lochabuidhe, 's thainig 
bean an darna buachaille gu tigh a' bhuachaille eile ; agus bean- 
an-tighe stigh roimpe 's poit aice air teine; " De th' agaibh anns 
a' phbit?" ars' an te a thainig a stigh. " Ma ta," ars' ise, "deur 
de bhrochan a bhios aig an duine le 'dhinneir," '"De," ars' an 
te a thainig a stigh, "an seorsa brochain a th'ann?" "Tha," 
ars' an te" a bha stigh, "dubh-bhrochan." 1 "Nachesan," ars' 
ise, "an duine truagh? Nach 'eil thu 'toirt da dad ach sin? 
Tha mise an uiread so de uine fuidh thighearna Lochabuidhe, 
's cha d' 61 mi brochan gun fhionnan-feola no rud-eiginn ann. 
Saoil nach beag do thighearna Lochabuidhe, ged a gheibhea- 
maide damh 's a' bhliadhna ; nach beag a dh' ionndrainneadh e 
e? Cuiridh mise an duine agam fhein a nail an nochd 's bheir 
sibh dhachaigh fear de na daimh." 

'N uair thainig an oidhche chuir i nail e. Chuir a' bhean an 
so air falbh an duin' eile. Thuirt an darna fear, "Goididh tusa 
an damh Jthar na buaile, 's bheir thu thugamsa e, agus bithidh 
sinn saor ; mionnaichidh mise nach d' thug mi thar na buaile e, 
's mionnaichidh tusa nach d' thug thu dhachaigh e." 

Dh' fhalbh an da bhuachaille. 'S an am sin chrochadh iad 
duine tra 'dheanadh e cron, gun f heitheamh ri lagh no binn ; 
ach anns na lathan bha tighearna Lochabuidhe an ddigh duine 
'chrochadh stigh 's a' choille. Dh' fhalbh iadsan 's dh' fhadaidh 
iad teine aig craoibh 's a' choille, mar chomharradh do 'n f hear 
a chaidh a ghoid. Shuidh fear aig an teine 's chaidh am fear 
eile a ghoid an daimh. Air an oidhche fhein bha mbran de 
dhaoin'-uaisle 's a' Mheigh 2 aig tighearna Lochabuidhe. Bhuail 
iad air cur gheall ri tighearna Lochabuidhe nach robh duine 's 

38 Lochabuidhe *s a dha bhnachaille. 

an tigh aige a bheireadh a' bhrbg thar an fhir a chaidh chrochadh 
an diugh. Chuir tighearna Lochabuidhe geall riu-san gu 'n 
robh. Ghlaodh e nuas air a ghille mhor Mac Phaidean. 3 Thuirt 
e ris an robh e brath an geall a leigeadh air. Dh' fharraid an 
gille mor c' ar son a bha 'n geall. Thuirt e ris, gu 'n robh iad 
ag radh nach robh duine 'n a chuirt a bheireadh a' bhrbg thar 
an fhir a chaidh chrochadh an diugh. Thuirt Mac Phaidean 
gu 'n tugadh esan dheth a' bhrbg 's gu 'n tugadh e thuga ann an 
sud i. 

Dh'fhalbh Mac Phaidean air a thurus. 'Nuair a rainig e 
sheall e 's chunnaic e 'm fear a chaidh chrochadh 'deanamh a 
gharaidh. Cha deach e na b' fhaid' air aghaidh, 's thill e le 
cabhaig. 'Nuair a rainig e thuirt iad ris, an robh a' bhrbg aige. 
Thuirt e riu nach robh, gur h-ann a bha 'm fear ud 's Ian cle'ibh 
de mhbine air a bhialthaobh 's e 'deanamh a gharaidh. "Dh' 
aithnich sinn-fh£in," ars' na daoin'-uaisle, " nach robh agad ach 
an gealtair." Thuirt an claraineach 4 a bha thall, "Is cearr an 
rud a tha thu 'deanamh, an geall a leigeadh air ; na 'm biodh 
comas nan cas agam-fhein dh' fhalbhainn 's bheirinn a' chas 
dheth co math ris a' bhrbig mu 'n leiginn an geall air tighearna 
Lochabuidhe ! " 

" Thig thusa so," ars' an gille mbr, " 's ^iridh_mise da chois 
nach deachaidh riamh 'n leithid ortsa_fpihad." Chuir e 'n clar- 

aineach mu chnaimh 'amhaichi 's dh' fhalbh e leis. 'Nuair 
thainig iad 'an sealladh an duine a bha 'deanamh a gharaidh, dh' 
iarr an claraineach tilleadh. Thuirt Mac Phaidean nach tilleadh. 
Dhluthaich iad ris an fhear a bha 'deanamh a gharaidh. Thog 
am fear a bha aig an teine a cheann, 's mhothaich e dhoibh-san 
a' tighinn. Shaoil leis gur h-e a chompanach fhe'in, am fear 
a chaidh a ghoid an daimh, a bha air tighinn. Labhair e 's 
thuirt e, "And' thainig tu?" "Thainig, 1 ' ars' Mac Phaidean. 
"'S am bheileagad?" "Tha," ars' Mac Phaidean. "'S am 
bheil e reamhar?" "Biodh e reamhar no caol agad, sin agad 
e !" 's e a' tilgeadh a' chlaraineich mu 'n teine. 

Lochabuidhe *s a dha bhnachaille. 39 

Chuir Mac Phaidean na buinn air, 's theich e co laidir 's a 
rinn e riamh. Leum an claraineach air falbh as a dheighinn, 
chuir e na ceithir raimh 5 orra gu teicheadh. Dh' eirich am fear 
a bh' aig an teine, agus duil aige gur h-e feadhainn a thainig a 
dh' fharcluais air fh£in a bh' ann, 's gu 'n robh e nis a sas. 
Dh' fhalbh e as deighinn a' chlaraineach, dhol a ghabhail a 
leithsgeul do thighearna Lochabuidhe. Bha an claraineach 
'g a fhaicinn a' tighinn as a dheighinn, 's e lan-chinnteach gur 
h-e 'm fear a chaidh chrochadh a bh' ann. 

Rainig Mac Phaidean. Dh' fharraid iad dheth an d' thug 
iad brbg bharr an duine. Thuirt e nach d' thug, gu 'n dubhairt 
e ris-san an robh an claraineach reamhar, 's gu 'n robh e cinnt- 
each gu 'n robh e air 'itheadh aca roimhe so. 

Rainig an claraineach 's an glaodh ud 'n a cheann, esan a 
leigeadh a stigh, gu 'n robh am fear ud a' tighinn. Leigeadh a 
stigh e. Am buileach a bha e stigh, bhuail am fear a bh' air 
a' chroich 's an dorus, esan a leigeadh a stigh. Thuirt fear 
Lochabuidhe nach leigeadh. " Is ann ath^a nnam ," ars* esan, 
"am buachaille agaibh fhein." Leig iad 'an so a stigh e. 
Bhuail e so air innseadh dhoibh mar chaidh e-fhein 's am 
buachaille eile a ghoid an daimh ; gu 'n do shaoil esan gur h-e 'm 
buachaille eile a bha air tilleadh leis an damh, gur h-e 'thug air 
a dh' fheoraich an robh e reamhar. Bha spors is fearas-chuid- 
eachd anabarrach aig tighearna Lochabuidhe 's aig 'uaislean air 
a so fad na h-oidhche. Chum iad aca am buachaille gus an 
robh e ro-fhada dh' oidhche 'g innseadh naigheachd mar a 
dh' eirich dha. 

Thainig so am fear a chaidh a ghoid an daimh. Rainig e 
'chraobh aig an d' f hag e 'm buachaille eile 's cha d' f huair e 1 
duine. Bhuail e air siubhal sios 's suas ; mhothairh p ? n slaqd I ^^ 
ud nuas ris a' chraoib h. "O," ars' esan, "tha thusa air ao 
chrochadh bho 'n a dh' fhalbh mise, 's bithidh mise am maireach 
air an ruith air am bheil thu fhdin. 'S e an turus mi-shealbhach, 
's buaireadh nam ban, a chuir sinne air an turus," 

40 Lochabuidhe *s a dha bhuachaille. 

Ghabh e null 's thug e' n duine bharr na croiche g' a thoirt 
dachaigh. Dh' fhalbh e 's cha d' f huair e leithid dol roimh 
mhonadh 's roimh pholl 's roimh eabar riamh ; mu dheireadh 
rainig e tigh na mnatha bha 'n duine air a chrochadh aice. 
Bhuail e 's an dorus ; dh' dirich a' bhean 's leig i stigh e. 
" Ciamar a dh' enrich dhuibh ? " ars' a' bhean. " Is coma leatsa 
co-dhiu, mo thruaighe ! tha e air a chrochadh o 'n a dh' fhalbh 

Chaidh a' bhean gu glaodhaich agus gu caoineadh. "Na 
abair guth," ars' esan, "air neo bithidh tu f h&n 's mise air ar 
crochadh am maireach. Tiodhlaicidh sinn anns a' gharadh e, 
's cha bhi fios aig duine am feasd air. Nis (ars' esan), bithidh 
mise falbh dhachaigh thun mo thighe f£in." 

Ach smaointich am fear a bha 'n Lochbuidhe gu 'n robh an 
t-am aige tighinn dachaigh nis. Bhuail e 's an dorus aige fh&n. 
Cha dubhairt a bhean guth. Ghlaodh e so a leigeadh a stigh. 
" Cha leig," ars' a bhean, " 's ann a tha thu air do chrochadh ; 
cha tig thu so am feasd ! " 

"Cha 'n 'eil mi air mo chrochadh fhathast," thuirt esan. 

"Biodh sin mar a dh'fheudas e dhuit," ars' ise, "cha'n 
fhaigh thu stigh so am feasd." 

Is e 'chomhairle a smaointich e air, dol gu tigh a' bhuach- 
aille eile. Ghlaodh e 's an dorus aig an f hear ud, a leigeil a 
stigh. Thuirt am fear ud, " Cha tig thu stigh an so ; fhuair 
mise gu lebir 'g ad thoirt dachaigh air mo mhuin 's tu air do 
chrochadh." Bha uinneag mhbr air ceann an tighe 's ghabh e 
dh'ionnsuidh na h-uinneig. Thainig e stigh air an uinneig. 
" Eirich," ars' esan, "'s las solus 's gu'm faic thu nach do 
chrochadh mise na's mb na 'chrochadh tu-fh&n." 

'Nuair chunnaic e gur e a bh' aige, chum e aige e gu maduinn, 
gus an d' thainig an latha. Chuir iad an so an guth ri chdile a 
dh' innseadh dhaibh mar a dh' Eirich dhaibh thall 's a bhos ; 
gu 'n rachadh iad gu tighearna Lochabuidhe 's gu 'n innseadh 
iad dha na h-uile dad mar a dh' Eirich dhaibh. 'Nuair chuala 

Lochabuidhe > s a dha bhuachaille. 41 

tighearna Lochabuidhe mar a dh' &rich doibh, cha robh bliadhna 
tuilleadh nach tugadh e damh do na h-uile fear dhiubh, 's bolla 


1. — Dtibh-bhrochan is a thin mixture of oatmeal and water, without 
meat or vegetables. This seems to have been a popular drink in 
olden times. When the Lord of the Isles kept state at Duntulm 
Castle in Skye, no one was admitted into the potentate's body-guard 
unless he could take the vessel (diorcal), containing- the liquid, with 
one hand from his companion, take his own mouthful, and pass it on 
to the next. In the Island of Mull, adjoining- the Sound, and opposite 
Ardtornish, once the seat of the Lords of the Isles, there is a place, 
probably deriving its name from some fancied resemblance to this 
dish, called Loch Diorcal. 

2. — Moy Castle is situated near the modern mansion-house of Loch- 
buie, and the reference appears to be to it in the Gaelic text. (Ed.) 

3. — MacFadyens were said by one of the clan, of whose judgment 
and intelligence the writer has cause to think very highly, to have 
been the first possessors of Lochbuie, and when expelled, that they 
became a race of wandering artificers, {Sliochd nan br-cheard — the 
race of goldsmiths), in Beinn-an-aoinidh and other suitable localities 
in Mull. The race is a very ancient one, but it has often been noticed 
that they are without a chief. 

4. — Claraineach means one on boards. A person losing the use of 
his limbs, and going on all fours, with boards or pieces of wood below 
his hands and knees, and with which he could more easily drag him- 
self over the ground. When placed sitting, he could not move. In 
olden times the defects of humanity, which are now relieved by many 
means, were left entirely to chance or very simple aids, and were the 
objects of malevolent persecution, rather than of charitable or kindly 

5. — Na ceithir raimh (the four oars) — fled upon all fours. (Ed.) 


The Lochlinners came to Barra at one time and they put 
Mac Neil to flight. He escaped to Ireland, where he remained. 
When his sons grew up, they heard themselves continually 
twitted as strangers, and called " Barraich." They resolved to 
find out the reason of this treatment, and one day, while at 
dinner, they demanded from their father an explanation of 
their being called by such an uncommon name as "Barraich" 
(Barraidhich); but he replied that the mention of that name 
caused him the deepest sorrow, and forbade them ever to 
mention it in his hearing again. " We will never eat a bite nor 
drink a drink again," they said, " till we know what the word 
means." He then explained the name and told them all that 
happened to him and how he had to suffer indignity and scorn 
as long as his powerful enemies the Norsemen held his lands. 
His sons on hearing the cause of their father's banishment 
resolved to try every means in their power to recover their in- 
heritance. They began to fit out a galley (blrlinn), and when 
it was completed with masts, sails, oars, crew and compass, and 
"P in readiness to go away, their father gav e them th e point to 
Barra Head, and said, that if the man he left at Barra was still 
there, and whose name was Macillcary (Mac 'ille-charaich), he 
would direct them straight to the place where they were to go 
to in search of their enemies. Thus it happened ('s ann mar 
sin a bha). They found the man and told him who they were 
and the purpose for which they came. He bade them steer for 
Castle Bay (Baigh-cC-chaisteil) and a light on the right-hand-side 
as they entered. They reached the house where the light was, 
but could get no entrance. They climbed to the roof, and 
looking through an opening saw a poor old man who was weep- 

Mac Neil and the Lochlinners. 43 

ing bitterly. They called to him that they were friends, and on 
admitting them he told them how that day he had been paying his 
rent to the Lochlinners and wanted a few marks of it, for this 
they threatened him that if he did not return with the balance 
of the rent, he would receive next day at noon a certain number 
of lashes. The Mac Neils then told their errand, and the old 
man joyfully showed them the most direct and secret way to 
the Castle, in which was a well of pure water whose source was 
unknown. They took the castle, and went on to Kinloch 
(Ceannloch), and cleared Vaslam as well. They then sent word 
to their father, who came with a band of followers to their help, 
and others, native born, whom he had formerly known, and on 
whose friendship he could rely, as soon as the tidings of his 
return reached them, joined his band. An unacknowledged 
son whom he had left, came among the rest to his assistance. 
This son, from the circumstance, was known as Mac-an-amhar- 
uis (the son of doubt). When he put forward his claim, Mac 
Neil replied, " If you are a son of mine, prove it by clearing 
Eilean Fiaradh, before morning, of my enemies." " Give me 
the means then," Mac-an-amharuis answered, " and I will not 
leave the blood of one of the race in any part or place ('s cha 'n 
fhag mi fuil ftneig dhiubh 'an elite na 'n ionad)." Mac Neil 
gave him his own sword, and that night while the Lochlinners, 
who had been carousing heavily, slept soundly, he made his 
way and got secretly in to the castle which stands on an i^let 
before Eoligarry castle, eight miles from Castle Bay, and killed 
the inmates where they lay. It is said that their bodies are still 
to be seen when a violent storm drifts the sand hither and 
thither over the fort (tigh-dion) where they were slain. From 
that day Mac Neil had his own rights. 


At the time MacLean of Dowart was proprietor of Tiree, this 
man, Fionnladh Guibhneach, was living near a small bay, Port- 
nan-long, in Balemartin, on the south side of the island 
(air an leige deas). There was no other joinersmith but 
himself, or rather, there was none to equal him in skill in the 
five islands (anns na cbig eileanan). Balemartin and Mannal 
were in those days one farm-holding, and there were few people 
in the township. The change-house (tigh-bsd) was at the stream- 
let Gedans (amhuinn Ghoidean), between Island House, the 
proprietor's residence, and the shore. At this time, also, there 
was fosterhood (comhaltas) between MacLeod of Dunvegan and 
MacLean of Tiree, by which they were bound to give proof of 
friendship for each other at whatever cost or whenever there 
was occasion on either side, and MacLeod, being in need of 
Finlay Guivnac's service, came with his boat (blrlinn) to Tiree 
for him. He landed at Port-nan-long (the creek of sailing 
ships), and on reaching Island House was heartily welcomed 
by MacLean. When he asked for Finlay, he was told that 
he had not been at Island House for some days, "and it 
is not a good day when I do not see him," MacLean 
said. MacLeod said he came to take Finlay with him 
for a year's service ; that all care would be taken of 
him, and if no misfortune or mischance befell either of them, 
he himself would bring him home at the end of the year. When 
MacLean heard this he said they would go in search of Finlay. 
They went, and as they were crossing the common (an clar 
macharach), between the house and the streamlet, they met 
Finlay, wKb, having recovered from the attack of ill-humour, \ 
was, as was usually his daily custom, on his way to Island 
House. MacLeod asked after his health, and if he was yet 

Finlay Guivnac. 45 

able to do as good work as ever. Finlay said that in place of 
getting weaker as he got older, he was daily gaining in strength 
and vigour (neart 's tabhachd) ; he was more active in walking, 
and could see better than he had ever done. MacLeod said 
he was surprised to hear that, as in Skye people were failing in 
strength and activity as they became older, " and it is curious 
that it is different with you." Finlay said he knew he was 
better now at walking and was gaining his eyesight, as formerly 
he could jump over Sorabai stream, but now he walked to the 
ford to get across ; and when he was younger, if he saw a 
person, it was as one, but now it was as two and three. They 
took Finlay with them to the change-house. When pledging 
MacLean's health, MacLeod, as was customary, said, "Wishing 
to get my wish from you, MacLean " (Mo shainnseal ort, 'Mhic- 

"You are welcome to have your wish freely gratified" ('Se KrTV"] 
beatha le sainnseaQ* MacLean replied. "My wish is that I may 
get Finlay with me," MacLeod said. In returning the compli- 
ment MacLean said, " My wish is that I may keep Finlay to 
myself." " But I do not ask to keep him always," MacLeod 
said. They then settled the wages, and agreed between them 
that Finlay should go to Dunvegan, on the west coast 
of Skye, for a year's work, and lest he should be kept 
longer than that time, MacLean was to go with him. 
When Finlay went home and told his wife about the 
journey he was to take, she said to him, " You are very 
foolish to go so far away, when MacLean is giving you a good 
livelihood." " I must go at anyrate, and you must come with 
me," he said, and told her how he was not to remain in Skye, 
and that MacLean himself was going with him to make sure he 
would not be kept there, and that she was to go with them. 
"How can I do that," she said, "when MacLean will not allow 
a woman in the same boat with him ?" " I will put you in a 

* Sainnseal means the giving of a free gift, or handsel. 

46 Finlay Guivnac. 

hogshead," he said, " and when we reach Dunvegan there will 
be feasting and enjoyment, and when the nobility of MacLeod 
(maithibh Siol Leoid) are gathered, you will come in among 
the company as a poor woman, and I will manage the rest in 
such a way as that you may perhaps earn more than myself." 
She consented to this, and he put her at night with sufficient 
provision in the boat. They reached Dunvegan safely (le deadh 
shoirbheachadh). Finlay's wife got away unnoticed from the 
boat, and waited at a house near till the festivities began. 
When the crew and those who came in the boat reached the castle, 
there was much rejoicing; an abundant feast was provided, and 
company gathered, and the usual customs when tables were 
spread and guests invited, were observed. Among those who 
came to the gathering was a dependent of good position, who, 
through some trifling cause, had lost the favour of MacLeod. 
Finlay observed that he kept aloof from the company, and 
having ascertained the cause, advised him to pledge MacLeod's 
health, and at the same time make his grievance known. He 
took the advice, and said, 

" Esteemed was I in MacLeod's house 

When justice sat in his land, 

And I am a.forgotten son to-night 

At the time of drawing in to wine (drinking), 

But this to you, son of Dark John, 

Who came in to-day or yesterday, 

I am the son of a hero 

Who was here in the past, 

Though I cannot to-day 

Get the hill for my cattle." 

(" Bu mhuirneach mise 'an tigh Mhic Le6id 

'Nuair shuidh a' ch6ir 'n a thir, 

'S mac dl-chuimhnicht' mi 'n nochd 'n a theach 

'An am tarruing a steach gu fion, 

Ach sud ortsa, mhic Iain Duibh, 

A thainig stigh an diugh no 'n de, 

Mise mac suinn a bh' ann riamh 

Ged nach fhaigh mi 'n diugh an sliabh g' am spreidh.") 

Finlay Guivnac. 47 

" Good youth," MacLean said, " go you to Mull and I will 
give you land (fearann) there." He said, 

" I was a hero's son last year, 

But I am a son of sorrow this year ; 

If I am put under a Vgsgrwright, y^fSUL UvAf^- 

I will be a son of Mull next year." 

(*' Bu mhac suinn mi an uiridh, 

Ach mac mulaid mi 'm bliadhna ; 

Ma chuireas iad orm tuille treise, 

'S mac Muileach mi air an ath-bhliadhna.") 

" MacLeod's own lands are not yet exhausted," MacLeod said, 
and he restored him to his former place and privileges, and he 
never had to go to Mull or anywhere else for land. 

During this time Finlay kept looking for his wife's appearance, 
and w henever he saw her in the doorway he called out to her, 
" Poor woman ! what has brought you here ? It must be some 
pressing need that made you come among the nobles of the 
Clan Leod to-night. Tell your story, and sure am I they will 
one and all be willing to give you help, and that they will not 
let you away as empty-handed as you have come." She said 
she was a poor woman who was bringing herself through life 
honestly as she best could, with help from those who took 
notice of her poverty and gave her charity, and that she came 
to the nobles of the Clan Leod, as they were gathered at this 
time, to try if they would help her. " Let your countrymen do 
as they like," Finlay said, " I will give you a calving cow (mart- 
laoigh)." MacLean looked at him in astonishment, and it was 
no wonder, when he heard him give away the only cow the 
poor woman in Balemartin had to the northern wife (do 'n 
chaillich thuathaich). Everyone of the nobles present gave her 
a similar gift, till she had the nine cows. When the company 
left, and MacLean had an opportunity of speaking to Finlay, 
he said to him, " What made you give the only cow you had to 
the northern wife ?" "Do you know who the wife is ?" Finlay 
said. " What do I care what wife she is or was," MacLean 

48 Finlay Guivnac. 

r - 

said. " It was just my own wife' who was there and got all the 
cows, and you need not give her yours till you return home," 
Finlay said. " And how did you bring her here ?" MacLean 
asked. " Ods ! MacLean," he said, "just in the big hogshead 
at your feet in the galley." "No death will ever happen to you 
but to be hanged for your quirks " (cha tig bas ortsa 'm feasd 
ach do chrochadh le d 1 raoitean ), MacLean said, and he advised 
him to send the cattle to Mull, till they could be ferried to 
Tiree. Finlay took the advice, and sent his wife and the cows 
to MacLean's place at Benmolach, on the north-west side of 
Mull, and she got them to Balemartin, where MacLean on his 
return* home sent her his own gift. 

Finlay began his work and went on diligently with it that he 
might be ready at the end of the year to return home, and 
MacLeod came frequently where he was, more to hear what he 
had to say than to see the progress he was making with his 
work. One day, happening to find him at his breakfast, and 
observing that Finlay began at the back with a shape of butter 
(measgan-ime) that was set before him, MacLeod asked him 
when he had finished, why he did not begin at the front of it. 
" I took it just from back to front as was wont at MacLean's 
table, where the measures were round (far nach biodh na 
measgain 'n am bloidhean)." On another occasion MacLeod 
found him paring a remnant of cheese (ciil cdise), and asked 
him when he had learned to pare cheese. " Since I came 
to MacLeod's Castle," he said : " it was not the custom to 
put a remnant on the inviting, merry, bountiful table in Mac- 
Lean's house (air bord fiughaireaeh, aighearach, fialaidh 
Mhic 'illeathain)." 

When the year had expired, MacLean, as had been agreed 
on, went to bring Finlay home. He was cordially received by 
MacLeod and was enjoying, after his journey, the usual hospit- 
alities prepared for guests of his rank, when he heard the sound 
of Finlay's hammer: "My loss! (mo chreach/)" he said, "I have 

Finlay Guivnac. 49 

too long delayed going where Finlay is." When he reached 
him, he said, " Excuse me, Finlay, I have been rather a long 
time of coming where you are." " I know that, MacLean," he 

" The object of my contempt is the small table 

Where meanness would be (found) : 

The object of my praise was the well filled table 

Where proud heroes sat. 

You did not take in Finlay Guivnac 

Nor remember him till the last." 

(" B' e mo laochan am bird suaile 

Air am bitheadh na laoich mheamnach : 

Cha d' thug - thusa stigh do ghobhainn Guibhneach, 

'S cha do chuimhnich thu e gu anmoch.") 

MacLean then asked after his welfare during the year, and 
said among other things, he would like to hear what were his 
opinions of the women of the MacLeod country since his 
coming among them. "Well, I will tell you that," Finlay said, 

" If all the women of the Clan MacLeod, 

Small and great, old and young, 

Were gathered in one body, 

It would be one right one I would make out of them." 

("Ged bhiodh mnathan Slol Leoid, 

Beag is m6r, sean 's crlon, 

Air an caradh 'an aona bhodhaig 

'S e aona bhean ch6ir a dheanainn dhiubh.") 

"They will not be well pleased with your words." "They 
will be better pleased with my words than I have been with 
their ways," Finlay said; "I see it is time to return to Tiree," 
MacLean said. 

When Finlay went to get payment from MacLeod before 
leaving, and as they were conversing together after settling be- 
tween them, MacLeod said he would lay a wager that the peats of 
Tiree would not burn so well as the peats of Skye. " What is 

50 Finlay Guivnac, 

your opinion, Finlay?" MacLean asked; "Shall I accept the 
wager?" " \¥enV_as~a matter of indifference I will wager they 
will not burn as well as those of the White Moss in Tiree 
(Lebraf cuiridh mise geall uach gabh tad co maith ri nibine 
Bhlair-bhain 'an Tireadh)" Finlay said, and the wager was 
laid. "I will try another wager," MacLeod said, "that our 
dogs will thrash the MacLean dogs." This wager was also 
accepted, and MacLeod came to Tiree with them, bringing 
peats and dogs with him in the galley. On putting the wagers 
to the test, the Skye peat when kindled lighted brightly with a 
great flare, but was soon burnt out. MacLean then asked if 
they would try the Tiree kind now. As none had been brought 
by the servants, and as it had previously been agreed on between 
them, MacLean asked Finlay to go for them himself. Finlay 
said perhaps it would not be the best that he would bring in. 
He went out, and gathering an armful of peats took and steeped 
them one by one (/bid an deigh /bid) in a cask of oil. 
When MacLeod saw them he said, "O man, how wet they are! 
(O dhuine, nach tad a thafliuch)." "The wetter they are, the 
livelier they will burn (mar a's fiiuiche 's ami a's braise iad)? 
Finlay replied, putting them on ; and when they took fire they 
nearly burned the house. " Did I not say they would burn 
better than those of Skye," Finlay said to MacLeod, "and you 
have lost the wager." "Undoubtedly I have," the other replied. 
Next day the dog fight (tabaid chon) was to be tried. Finlay 
rose early and gave his dogs the strongest "crowdie" (fuarag, 
a mixture of milk and meal,), and though t^_w£r^.sjrjaller 
when the fight began, MacLeod's dogs could not hold one 
bout with them. " It is surprising," MacLeod said, " when 
one of my dogs is as big as two of MacLean's dogs." "You 
need not be at all surprised," Finlay said, "those here are of 
the race of dogs that were in the land of the Fians (so slolachadh 
nan con a bK aca 's an Fheinn), and no other kind need try 
their strength against them." " If you were in the land of the 

Big Dewar of Balemartin, Tiree. 5 1 

Fians, you came back, and no one need lay a wager with 
MacLean so long as he has you with him." MacLeod bade 
them farewell and returned home (Dti fhag e beannachd aca 
f s thill e dhachaidh). 


He was John MacLean, a native of Dowart in the island of 
Mull, who fled to Jura.* He is said to have been the first man 
from that island who settled in Tiree, and on that account was 
known as Dewar (Diurach)\. He and his seven sons were alike 
powerful and strong men. They held the township of Balemartin 
(on the south side of Tiree), including Sorabi, where a burying 
ground is, and where there was at one time a chapel to which 
was attached the land of Sorabi garden. At this time the 
people in the island were paying rent or tax fds), but it was 
found impossible to make big John Dewar submit to pay the tax. 
The first time any attempt was made to compel him to pay it, 
he took with him his seven sons to Island-House, the pro- 
prietor's residence, and put them on the sward in front of the 

* The cause of John Dewar's flight to Jura is said to have been 
occasioned by his having given information to MacLaine of Lochbuie 
which was injurious to MacLean of Dowart, in a dispute that occurred 
between them. 

+ Several of John Dewar's descendents are at the present day in 
Tiree. They are known as na Diicraich, one family who are descended 
from the elder of his sons being cottars in Balemartin, 


52 Big Dewar of Balernartin, Tiree. 

house (air dhirlinn an eilein), saying, " This is the payment I 
have brought you, and you may take it or leave it." Another 
attempt to enforce payment from him ended as told in the 
following account : — 

One day when he and his sons were ploughing, two of the 
sons being at Sorabi, as there were few people in the neigh- 
bourhood, and his sons were at some distance from him, he 
had to go himself to the smithy to repair the ploughshare (a 
I ghlasadh an t-suic). It was the beginning of summer, and he 
left the horses in the plough, eating the wild mustard (sgeallan) 
in the field where he was ploughing, grass and other herbage 
being scant. While their father was away at the smithy, the 
sons who were at Sorabi, on taking a look seawards, observed a 
boat {birlinn) coming in towards the shore. It kept its course for 
the small bay of boats (port nan long), in Balernartin, and had on 
board a very strong man called " Dark John Campbell " (Iain 
Dubh Caim&eul), who was sent to collect the tax from those in 
the island who were unwilling to pay it. He had an able crew 
with him in the boat. They landed, and when they reached 
the place where Dewar was ploughing, the first thing they did 
was to seize the horses in the plough (na h-eich a bha 's an 
t-seisreaek), to take them away in the boat as payment of the 
tax. When they were almost ready to be off, Dewar came in 
sight on his return from the smithy. On seeing the unwelcome 
strangers he quickened his steps to intercept them, and took 
hold of the horses to take them back. Campbell drew his 
sword, bidding him be off as fast as he could or he would put 
his head beside his feet. Dewar drew his own sword and said, 
" Come on and do all you are able." The fray began between 
them, and Dewar was driving Campbell, Inveraray, backwards 
until he put him in among the graves (lie) in the burying-ground, 
and it so happened that Campbell stumbled on MacLean's 
cross and fell backwards. Before he could raise himself Dewar 
got the upper hand of him. On seeing him fall, his men were 

The Big Lad of Dervaig. 53 

certain that he must have been killed, and they went away with 
the horses to the boat and put off to sea. "Let me rise," 
Campbell said, " and I will give you my word that I will never 
come again on the same errand." " I will," Dewar said, " but 
give me your oath on that, that it will be as that (gu 'm bi sin 
mar sin)." Campbell gave his word, " and more than that," 
he said, " I will send you the value of the horses when I reach 
Inveraray." "You will now come with me to my house," Dewar 
said, " and you need not have fear or dread ; your house- 
quarters and welcome will not be worse than my own, till you 
can find a way of returning home. In the course of some days 
Campbell got away, and he never returned again to "bullyrag" or 
intimidate any one. On reaching Inveraray he was as good as 
his word. He sold the horses and sent the price to Dewar, who 
was never compelled to pay the tax. 


Contemporary with John Dewar of Balemartin, Tiree, the Big 
Lad was living at Dervaig, Mull, with his father, Charles, son 
of Fair Neil of Dervaig. This lad, as he grew up to manhood, 
became noted for his great strength and prowess, as well as for 
his handsome person. At the same time he was reckless and 
foolish. Despising his father's reproofs and heedless of his 
counsel, advice or admonitions, he went on in his mad career 

54 The Big Lad of Dervaig. 

until at last he purloined money from him, with which he 
bought a ship and went sailing away, none of his friends knew 
whither. After some years he returned home, broken-down in 
appearance, empty-handed, and a complete " tatterdemalion," 
having wrecked his ship on the coast of Ireland, and lost all 
the wealth he had accumulated to repay his father, who was 
now dead. The grieve (an t-aoirean) had the land, and he went 
where he was. The grieve told him about his father's death, 
and advised him to go to his father's brother, Donald, son of 
fair Neil, who had Hynish, Tiree, at that time, and whatever 
advice he would get from him, to follow it, and he (the grieve) 
would give him clothing and means to take him there, on 
condition of being repaid when he returned. As there was no 
other way open to him of redeeming his past errors, he agreed 
to the grieve's conditions and went to Tiree to his uncle, by 
whom he was coldly received. " What business has brought 
you, and where are you going when you have come here?" 
" To ask advice from yourself," he said. " Good was the 
advice your father had to give, and you did not take it ; what 
I advise you to do is, to go and enlist in the Black Watch, and 
that will keep you out of harm. You will stay here to-night, 
and I will give you money to-morrow morning to take you to 
the regiment," his uncle said. His uncle was married to a 
daughter of MacLean, Laird of Coll. Her husband did not 
tell her of his nephew's arrival, as he was displeased at his 
coming. When the Big Lad was leaving the house next 
morning, she saw him passing the window and asked who the 
handsome-looking stranger was. On being told, she made him 
return to the house, gave him food, drink, and clothing, and 
on parting, money to take him on his way. He returned to 
Dervaig, paid the ploughman his due, and went off to the wars. 
At the first place he landed, said to be Greenock, a pressgang 
was waiting to seize whoever they could get to suit the king's 
service, and on seeing this likely man they instantly surrounded 

The Big Lad of Dervaig. 55 

him, to carry him off by force. He turned about and asked 
what they wanted with him. They said, " To take you with 
us in spite of you." When he understood their intentions he 
opened his arms to their widest extent and drove all those 
before him, eighteen men, backwards into the sea, and left 
them there floating to get out the best way they could. He 
then made his way till he enlisted in the Black Watch, then on 
the eve of leaving for America, where it remained for seven 
years. During that time the Big Lad (an Gille mbrj won the 
esteem and commendation of his superiors in rank, by his 
exemplary conduct and good bearing, as well as the 
admiration and affection of his equals, to whom he was 
courteous and forbearing. When the regiment was returning 
to England, the officers frequently spent their leisure time, on 
board of the man-of-war that brought it home, playing dice. 
One day, when they were at their games, the Big Lad was look- 
ing on, and he saw a young man, one of the English officers, 
insolently, but more in jest than in earnest, striking on the ear 
the colonel of the regiment, who, the Big Lad knew, was a 
Highlander. When he saw the insult was not resented, he said 
in Gaelic to the Colonel, " Why did you let him strike you ?" 
(C ar son a leig thu Zeis do bhualadh ?). " You are, then, a 
Highlander," the colonel said to him, " and you have been with 
me for seven years without telling me that you are." " If you 
would do what I ask you, I will make yon one that he will not 
do the same thing to you again," he said to the colonel. 
"What do you want me to do?" the colonel said. "That 
you will write out my discharge when we reach London," he 
said. " But a soldier cannot get his discharge without an order 
(stamped) under the crown," the colonel said. "Write what 
you can for me and I will not plead for more," he said. 
"Anything I can write will not do you any good," the colonel 
said. "Write that itself," he said; and he got it written. Next 
time the play was going on, the Big Lad looked on, and when 

56 The Big Lad of Deruaig. 

he saw the same one striking the colonel again, he went to him 
and asked why he did it. The reply he got was that soldiers 
were not allowed to question their officers. " This is my way 
of excusing myself," the Big Lad said, giving him a blow he 
had cause to remember all his life, if he ever recovered from 
it. The soldier was sentenced to be severely punished, but on 
arriving in England, he deserted — though desertion of the army 
is not a custom of Highland soldiers — and became a fugitive. 
The great esteem in which he was held prevented any one from 
hindering his flight. He got ashore at night among the baggage, 
and harbour lights not being numerous in those days, he could 
not easily be seen making his escape. Whenever he got his 
foot on land he set off, and during the remainder of the night 
he ran on flying from pursuit. In the day-time he hid himself 
under hedges and haystacks, and next night fled on. On the 
following day he was becoming exhausted, and he ventured to 
ask food at a wayside house. As his appearance was that of a 
poor soldier he got scanty fare, but he asked with civility for 
better food, and it was given to him. While he was taking it 
two strangers came in to the same room with him, and seeing 
his table well supplied while their own was poorly furnished, 
one of them said, "It is strange to see a Highland soldier with 
good food, while we have next to nothing," and he went over 
and swept away all the meat from the soldier's table to his own. 
The soldier called the mistress of the house and asked her who 
the men were. She said they were travellers, and she asked 
them why they took the meat from the soldier's table, and told 
them if they had in a civil manner asked better food for them- 
selves they would have got it, instead of raising a quarrel. The 
soldier said he would settle the quarrel ; and finding a large 
iron hoop (liibach mKbriaruinn) at hand, he straightened it (a 
fathom in length) and flung it round the head of the one 
nearest to him, then twisted it in a noose and put the other 
one's head in the remainder. He then drew them both out 

The Big Lad of Dervaig. 57 

after him, and left them on the high road. " Now," he said to 
them at parting, " you can travel on, for you will not come out 
of that tie till you are put in a smithy fire (teallach^gobhainn)." 
He returned to pay the hostess, who said to him, " You do not 
appear to have much money." " I have seven day's pay of a 
soldier left, to pay my way," he said. " Good youth," she said, 
"here is double the amount to you, to take you on your 
journey, and I am sufficiently repaid by your ridding my house 
of disagreeable guests." He took the gift thankfully, and 
turned his face northwards, to come to Scotland (Albainn) t 
The next evening, he saw a fine house, to which he went in the 
dusk, and asked permission to warm himself. He was allowed 
to enter, aud while standing with his back to the fire, the 
daughter of the house saw the handsome stranger, and she told 
her father. He desired food to be given to him, and that he was 
to be sent where he was. When she went with this request, 
the soldier asked who her father was. She said he was a 
nobleman ( br d-dh uin* uasal). " A soldier is a bad companion 
for a nobleman," he said. He went with her and saw her 
father, a grey-haired man in a chair, looking about him. The 
soldier was asked to sit down. After conversing some time, 
the old man said, " Young man, I have a daughter here who 
gives me much trouble to keep her in company. If you can 
play cards (iomairt chair tean), take my place at the table ; there 
is a money reward (duais airgid) for every game won." "I have no 
money," the soldier replied. 'Twill lend you some, "she said. The 
play went on till he won six games, one after another. He then 
wanted to stop playing, and offered her back all the winnings, 
but she would only take the sum she lent him, saying the rest 
was rightly his own. He was to remain there that night, and 
was not to go away in the morning without telling them. Being 
afraid of pursuit, he went away at daybreak. He had not gone 
far when he knew that a horseman was coming after him. He 
waited to see if he was sent to get back the money he had won 

58 The Big Lad of Deruaig. 

at the card table ; but it was a messenger with a request to him 
from the nobleman to return to the castle. When he appeared 
the nobleman chid him for leaving the castle unknown to him, 
and told him how his daughter had fallen in love with him, and 
had resolved never to marry any one else. The soldier said, 
" A soldier is a poor husband for her." The nobleman was 
convinced that he was not a common soldier whatever circum- 
stances had placed him in that position, and said he preferred 
his daughter's happiness to wealth or rank. He remained with 
them and married the daughter ; and when he laid aside the 
soldier's dress, there was not his equal to be seen in the new dress 
provided for him. He was esteemed for the dignity of his 
demeanour as much as he was admired for his fine appearance, 
and he lived, without remembrance of his past misadventures, 
in the enjoyment of happiness and prosperity. In those days 
news travelled slowly, newspapers appearing only once or twice 
a year in populous villages, and they did not reach remote 
places. In one which came to the nobleman at this time, there 
was an account of two men tied in an iron rod (ann an slait 
iarninn) who were being exhibited at a market town in England. 
He went with the nobleman and his friends to see this wonder, 
the two who were in the union (an dithis a bha 's a' chatgipnn). 
Whenever the men saw the Highlander they said to him " If 
you were dressed in the kilt, we would say you were the man 
who put us in this noose." " If you had been more civil," he 
said to them, opening the coil, " when you met me, you would 
not to-day be fools going through England with an iron rod 
round your necks." On this he was cheered by the people, 
and if he was held in esteem before, he was much more on his 
return home, where he remained and became a great man 
(duine mbr), beloved and esteemed to the end of his life. 



Donald Gorm was at one time in the Island of Skye with his 
galley and crew. When returning home to Uist, the day they 
set out happened to become very stormy, and stress of weather 
obliged them to return and make straight for Dunvegan, the 
nearest place of shelter they could reach, where Donald Gorm 
was not very willing to go if he could in any way avoid landing 
there, since he had killed MacLeod of Dunvegan in a quarrel 1 
which had arisen between them ; but there was no alternative. 
On observing the boat coming and in danger of being lost 
MacLeod and the men of Dunvegan went to the shore to meet 
them, and when they were safely landed gave them a kindly recep- 
tion. MacLeod took them with him to his castle and provided 
hospitably for them. Donald Gorm was invited to MacLeod's 
own table, but refused, saying, "When I am away from home, 
like this, with my men, I do not separate from them but sit 
with them." MacLeod said, "Your men will get plenty of 
meat and drink by themselves, and come you with me." " I 
will not take food but with my men," he said. When Mac- 
Leod saw that Donald Gorm was resolved not to be separated 
from his own men, and being unwilling to let him sit with 
his, he asked in preference Donald Gorm's men to his own 
company. When dinner was over, drinking commenced, and 
MacLeod becoming warm said to Donald Gorm by way of 
remembrance, "Was it not you who killed my father?" "It 
has been laid to my charge that I killed three contemptible 
Highland lairds (tri sgrogainich de thighearnan Gaidhealach) 
and I do not care though I should put the allegation on its 
fourth foot to-night ;" Donald Gorm said, drawing his dirk : 
^YKere is the dirk that killed your father ; it has a point, a 



60 Story of Donald Gorm of Sleat. 

haft (failkin), and is sharp edged, and is held in the second 
best hand at thrusting it in the west." 2 MacLeod thought he 
was the second best hand himself, and he said, " Who is the 
other?" Donald Gorm shifted the dagger to his left hand, 
raised it, and said, " There it is." MacLeod became afraid 
and did not revive any other remembrance. When Donald 
Gorm was offered a separate room at night, he said, "Whenever 
I am from home I never have a separate bed from my men but 
sleep in their very midst until I return to my own house again." 
They told him that his men had a sleeping-place provided for 
them, and that he would be much better accommodated by 
himself in the room prepared for him. When they saw he 
could not be persuaded to alter his determination of passing 
the night with his men, they made beds for himself and men 
}n the kiln (ath). z The men, being wearied, slept without care, 
but Donald Gorm did not close an eye. He had a friend, 
somehow, in his time of need (caraid eiginn air chor-eiginn), in 
the place, who came secretly to the kiln where he and his men 
lay, and called to him, "Is it a time to sleep, Donald?" (An 
cadaldhuit, a Dhbrnhnuilll) " What if it is?" (' De na 'm & }?), 
he answered from within the kiln. " If it is, it will not be " 
(na 'm V e cha dklj, said the one outside. " Waken men, and 
rise quickly," he said to his company. They got up at once 
and with all speed went out, shutting the door of the kiln 
behind them when they were all through to the outside. They 
fled straight to the shore and launched their boat ; and fortunate- 
ly for them the wind had calmed and they were able to put out 
oars and row the galley some distance from the shore before 
their flight was observed. They had not gone far to sea before 
they saw the kiln on fire. " In place of your father and grand- 
father you have left yourself without a house, and Donald 
Gorm is where you cannot reach him," Donald Gorm said, and 
he got safely home to his own house without hurt or injury 
(gun bheud gun mhilleadh). 

Story of Donald Gorm of Sleat. 61 


i The quarrel in which MacLeod was killed was caused, it is said, 
by Donald Gorm's having- repudiated his wife, who was a daughter 
of MacLeod, in order to marry MacKenzie of Kintail's sister, and 
MacLeod resenting the insult attacked Donald Gorm, who killed him 
and his two sons by throwing them over precipices in the Coolin hills 
in Skye where the skirmish took place. A different version of this 
incident is given in an early account of the "Troubles in the isles 
betwixt the Clan Donald and the Seil Tormot, the year 1601," and is 
to the effect that the feud was carried on by " Sir Rory MacLeod of 
the Herries," brother-in-law of Donald Gorm MacDonald of Sleat, 
the reprisals being fierce and frequent until the MacLeods were 
beaten at " Binguillin," where a brother of Sir Rory and other chief 
men of his party were taken prisoners by Donald Gorm, but on a 
reconciliation taking place they were set at liberty. (See Gregory's 
History of the Western Highlands and Isles, p. 295). 

2 In regard to the story and incident of the dagger, there was a 
song made, of which the writer has only been able to get the following 
verse : — 

This is the dirk that killed your father, 

And it has not refused you yet, 

Farewell to you from the side of the channel. 

"Holoagaich h-ol-6 
Sud a' bhiodag a mharbh d' athair, 
'S cha do dhiult i ri thusa fhathast ; 
Soraidh leat o thaobh a' chaoil." 

3 Kiln ( hth) here mentioned was in a thatched house about 17 feet 
long and 10 wide, the breast being about 5 feet deep, one being built 
in every township for preparing corn for grinding, Some peacefully 
disposed, observant old men ( bodaichean sicire foirfe) built kilns 
in their own barns, to avoid being hindered or disturbed by their 
neighbours at their work. 



The wife of the laird of Moidart (Bean Mhac He Ailein 
Mhuideart) once took great umbrage at Donald Gorm. He 
came to Mac 'ic Ailein's house, dressed, as was his custom, in a 
suit of cloth of dun (natural) coloured sheep's wool, with a stout 
oaken cudgel in his hand. The laird's wife happened to be the 
first person he met, and without any preliminary word he asked, 
" Is the lad Mac 'ic Ailein at home ?" (Bheil am balach Mac He 
Ailein a slight) " No, he is not, at this time," she answered indig- 
nantly resenting his superciliousness. The next question he asked 
was, " Will it be a long time before he comes home ?" " I don't 
know," she said. "You will tell him when he returns home, 
that I was asking for him here, and that The Herd is the name 
I get (gur e am Buachaille a their iad riumj." Mac 'ic Ailein 
came home soon afterwards, and his wife told him about the 
bold man who was enquiring. At her husband's request she 
described the stranger's appearance and dress, and how "The 
Herd " was the name he got. " Did you ask him in ?" her 
husband asked. "No," she said, "he was so impertinent." 
"None but me will pay the penalty for that," he said, " for he 
was Donald Gorm of Sleat" (Dbmhnull Gorm Shleibhte). 
Mac 'ic Ailein desired a horse to be saddled, and he rode at 
full speed after, and overtook, Donald Gorm at the inn. After 
much entreaty he was persuaded to return to Mac 'ic Ailein's 
house. On their arrival his wife made ample apology, and the 
friendship was not broken. 

Mac 'ic Ailein had to hold MacConnel, the Herd of the Isles 
(Mac Chonnuill Buachaille nan Eileinean) stirrup at every feast 
and fain 


The boundary line between the estates of Glengarry and Kintail 
was, for ages, a winding river (amhuinn cham^ literally " crooked 
river") which often overflowed its banks, changed its course, 
and made encroachments on the land, sometimes on one side 
and as frequently on the other, causing disputes and quarrels, 
in regard to their respective rights and limits, between the 
proprietors of the estates which it separated ; the tenantry (an 
tuath) on each property taking the part of their chief when the 
strife ran high. In order to put an end to the quarrelling the 
Chief of Glengarry (Mac 'fc Alasdair) at this time insisted on 
a straight line being drawn to mark the boundary between them, 
but MacKenzie of Kintail would not give his assent to any 
proposal for changing the old line which followed the course of 
the river, and the feud broke out afresh (bha an tabaid air a 
bonn a rithist). Glengarry had three sons, and in the skirmish 
that took place on that occasion the two eldest sons were killed. 
The youngest having been left at home on account of his 
youth, escaped the fate of his brothers. He became known 
afterwards as the Black Raven of Glengarry. When he grew 
up to manhood his father said to him one day, " An insulting 
message (fios tamailteach) has been sent to me from Kintail 
about the boundary line, and I must accept the challenge and 
gather the men, and you must go with us." " If it is fighting you 
have in view," said the Raven, "you must do it yourself, for me; 
my two dear brothers were killed through your foolish quarrels, 
and I would have been killed also if I had been old enough to be 
with them at the time, but since I can now understand how 
trifling the cause is, I will let yourselves be fighting." His 
father could only gather his men and go to the contest without 

64 The Black Raven of Glengarry. 

him. When they were out of sight, the Raven put on his best 
suit of armour and took several turns round the hill to elude 
the notice of any straggler who might have been left, and then 
set off at his utmost speed to get in advance of his father and 
men. Before evening closed he was at the head of Loch 
Duich, where he passed the night. Next day he procured a 
plaid of MacKenzie tartan which he wrapped round him to 
disguise the red badge ( suaicheantas dearg) of Glengarry, and 
made his way to the enemy's headquarter 's at Donan Isle 
(Eilean donnan), where the Kintail men were rapidly gathering 
to the fray. It was customary in those days to set a large long 
table (bbrd mbr fada) supplied with abundance of food and 
drink for the entertainment of the men who assembled from 
far and near. The Chief sat at the head, and every man on 
taking his place stuck his dirk (biodag) in the edge of the table 
in front of him before sitting down. The Black Raven got in 
among the men unnoticed, and when the Chief of Kintail came 
in, he said to the man who was beside him, " I wish to sit next 
to Kintail." His appearance did not betray him, and no one 
objected to his request, but when he was taking the seat beside 
the Chief, he threw MacKenzie backwards on the ground and 
put his foot upon him to keep him down, and the point of his 
dirk resting on the breast of the prostrate man. His plaid having 
slipped aside, the red (an dearg) was exposed, and in an instant 
a hundred dirks were ready to riddle him fg' a dheanamh 'n a 
chriathar-tholl); but he said, commanding them, "The moment 
I am approached, your Chief will be a dead man." " If I fall," 
he said to the Chief, "it will be on the hilt of my own weapon, 
and you will never rise — its point is on your breast, and any 
attempt to take my life imperils yours. I did not come here 
for war but for peace, and unless you will consent to lay aside 
all animosities, and solemnly promise never to renew this 
quarrel, your life is forfeited. I have only to press the hilt of 
this dagger, on which my hand rests, and whatever fate awaits 

The Old Wife's Headland. 65 

me you will have no more power to do harm." Kintail agreed 
to make peace, and gave his oath twice on the cold iron of the 
dirk on his breast that he would faithfully keep his promise. 
The Black Raven, after sharing in the hospitalities provided for 
the occasion, returned home, the Chief and men of Kintail 
accompanying him part of the way. When he met his father 
with his band of fighting men, he told them to return home, 
that he had done alone more than they had ever been able to 
do with all their boasting and fighting ; he had put an end to 
their fighting, and got a guarantee for a lasting peace without 
one drop of bloodshed, and henceforth if he found any one 
among them making or renewing the quarrel, he would give 
the Chief of Kintail full liberty to treat them as he saw proper. 
The friendship then made between the Chieftains was ever 
afterwards steadily maintained by them, and the Raven became 
one of the most distinguished men in the service of his country 
at that time. 


Is one of the stormiest and most dangerous headlands on the 
west coast of Scotland. From base to top it is rocky, and for 
a considerable distance on each side. 

It faces the Island of Coll, and commands a view of the 
Point of Ardnamurchan, from which it is distant about seven 
or eight miles. At its base there is a strong tidal channel 
which has never been known to be dry at the lowest ebb tide. 
From its highest point the spectre of "Hugh of the Little 


66 The Old Wife's Headland. 

Head " is said to cross on horseback to Coll to give warning, 
as he is wont to do, to any descendants of the house of Loch- 
buie of their approaching end. Hugh is said to have had his 
head cut off by a broad sword in one of the clan skirmishes of 
old times. He has his head in a blaze of fire, and the tracks 
of his horse seen on the snow shew only three legs, and the 
terror of children and credulous people is increased by his 
being said to drag a chain after him. To the south of the 
Point there is a cave, which becomes accessible only when the 
tide has half fallen. Its Gaelic name is Uamh Bhuaile nan 
Drogh. Wild pigeons tenant it, and are seen emerging when 
the tide has fallen. The cooing sound of the birds heard 
under water seems to have led to the name, which means, the 
Cave of the Cattle-fold of the fairies, and it is noticeable that 
the word Drogh denotes that it first received its name from a 
Teutonic source, very possibly from the race that came ulti- 
mately to tenant the Orkney islands. It is said, however, that 
Dutchmen possessed the fisheries on the west coast cf Scotland, 
and it has been suggested that the word Drogh is from Drag- 
net, which they kept in the cave. The tides which sweep past 
this point render it more difficult and dangerous to get past in 
a head wind than even the Point of Ardnamurchan, of which 
the dangerous character is well known. To the north of the 
Point in the direction of Croig in Mull, there is an indentation 
which is called Achlais na Caillich (the old woman's oxter or 
armpit) where salmon nets are set. It has been characterised 
as not the armpit of a smooth woman (Achlais na ?nna mine) 
and the story which is said to have given its name to the 
Headland, is, that an old woman was gathering shell-fish in the 
neighbourhood when the tide began to make, and the woman 
finding no other means of escape made a last effort by climbing 
up the rocks. When at the top, and almost out of danger, she 
said "lam safe now, in spite of God and men " (Tha mi 
tearuinte nis ge 6' oil le Dia 's le daoine). She was converted 

A Tradition of I slay. 67 

into a stone forming part of the rock distinctly to be seen from 
the highest point of Cailleach. It is said that the figure of the 
old woman was very distinctly to be seen at first, and hence the 
name of the Headland, but time has done its own work and 
the figure is not now so unmistakable. Even the origin of the 
name is only known to those who are natives of the 

On one occasion, the writer being himself ensconced under 
the side deck of a smack, then plying to the island, heard a 
Tiree boatman, who was conversing with a minister from the 
south of Argyleshire, and had no fancy for the overly pious 
talk of the too-zealous stranger, remarking that there was an 
old woman here and when she gave a snort, she could be heard 
over in Coll. [" Tha Cailleach an so 'stra ni i sreothart cluinnidh 
iad'an Cola *'."] The minister said that that was most extra- 
ordinary, and as it now began to rain the boatman began to 
exhort him to go below, and professed much regard for the 
minister's health. At last he got rid of him. 


The western isles according to tradition were thinly inhabited 
for a long period of years, after the defeat and expulsion of the 
Norsemen. These invaders had left few of the natives alive 
and the land remained desolate. The first man then who took 
possession of the country was powerful John MacConnal who 
was called, the shepherd of the isles, and the first of the lords 
of the isles (Iain mor Maconuil ris an abairteadh buachaille nan 

68 A Tradition of I slay. 

eileanan, tfe cend tighearna nan eileanan). He had seven sons, 
among whom, when they came of age, he began to divide his 
possessions, but the Highlands and isles being too limited in 
his opinion for division among so many, he went away to 
Ireland with one of his sons, to overthrow one or more of the 
five kings by whom that country was then governed, and put 
his son in possession of any territory he might acquire in the 
contest, leaving his eldest son in Islay, which was the first of 
the isles possessed by him. In this enterprise he succeeded in 
seizing that part of Ireland then under the authority of the 
Earl of Antrim, and gave it to his son, whose nephew 
came from Islay, when some years had passed, to see him 
in Antrim. This nephew during one of those visits fell in 
love with a noblewoman of the country whom he asked in 
marriage. His proposal being agreed to, he was requested, as 
was then the custom, to name the dowry he wanted with her. 
His request was 700 men who had nicknames (far-ainmeannan) 
to take with him to Islay. In those days, it is said, that great 
men and nobles only had pseudonyms and he took this method 
of getting these and their followers to repeople the isles, and 
their descendants are yet to be found in many parts of the 
country as well as in the islands. 


Islay is separated from the island of Jura by the sound of Islay 
and lies west of Cantyre in Argyleshire. Its extent is 25 miles long 
and 17 miles broad. The south west point is called the Rhinns (an 
roinn Ileach). The island is hilly and penetrated by an arm of the 
sea, Lochindaal, which is 12 miles long - and 8 miles broad. There 
are good crops grown on the island and cattle are reared and fish is 
abundant on its coasts. A small quantity of various kinds of ore is 

A Tradition of I slay. 69 

found throughout the island, but its distilleries are its chief industry 
at the present day. It was in former times the chief residence of the 
Lords of the Isles, and the ruins of castles, forts, and chapels are 
numerous and interesting - as records of a past age. 

The Beatons or Bethunes and MacLarty are said to have been among 
those who came from Ireland with A(acConuiI The latter being 
descendants of grey haired Niel ( Nial Liath) who was interpreter 
( fear-labhairt ) for Maconnal, hence the name. It is told of Niel, that 
being at one time surrounded by his enemies in a battle, he was 
commanded to deliver his sword. '* If I do, he said, it will be by the 
point " (ma liubhras, 'sann an aghaidh a ranna), and cleaving his 
way through them he escaped and joined his companions. 

After his settlement in the western island MacConnal (Iain Mbr 
MacConuill) is said to have divided his possessions among his seven 
sons by sending one of them John (Iain) to Glencoe, hence the pat- 
ronymic Clan of the son of John of Glencoe ( Clann 'ic Iai?i Ghleann- 
a-comhunnj, another son Ronald ( Raonull) was sent to Keppoch (a' 
Cheapaich), one Allan (Ailean) was sent to Moidart ( Miiideart ). 
These were settled on the mainland in the counties of Argyle and 
Inverness, while the island of Skye was given to another son, Grim' 
Donald of Sleat, ( Dbmhnull gorm Shldibhte ). Another son got the 
smaller isles, and another went to Ireland and became Earl of Antrim 
while the heir remained in Islay and held the adjacent islands as well 
as portions of the mainland. Of the 700 who returned with his son 
from Antrim to people the islands after the expulsion of the Norse- 
men, 22 were heads of families. The person from whom the writer 
heard this, now above 70 years of age, was certain that Beaton or 
Bethune was one of the names, but he had forgotten the others. 


(Lachunn fionn mac Neill bhdin, Fear Dhearbhaig. 

At the time when Lachlan Kattanach was Chief of MacLean 
(ri linn Mhic- illeathain Lachunn Cattanach na gruaige), his 
wife (a bhantighearna) dreamt about an Irish chief of the 
name of William O'Power (?) (Uilleam J buaidh) and in the 
same way, at the same time, this Irish Chief dreamt about her. 
It happened then that they began to communicate with each 
other. (At that time more trade was carried on with Ireland 
by these Western Isles than with any other place.) One day 
MacLean discovered that his wife was keeping on a correspon- 
dence, unknown to him, with the Irish Chief, and was much 
distressed about this injury to his honour. In order to test his 
wife's affection for her secret lover, he went to her with a 
penknife in his hand and said, "There is a present O buaidh 
has sent you " She looked at the knife and said, 

" My darling - who sent me the knife 

I weary at his delay in coming- across the sea, 

And may I not enjoy health 

If I do love it better than the hand that holds it." 

(M' eudail 'chuir thugam an sgian 
'S fhada learn a thriall thar muir, 
'S na 'n a_mheall mi mo shlaint' 
Mur docha learn i na'n lamh 'sa bheil). 

MacLean was then convinced of his wife's disgrace, and went 
away and sent for his kinsman, Fair Lachlan (Lachunn fionn) 
who was then at Hynish, and who, on receiving a message from 
his Chief, went immediately to Island House. On reaching, Mac- 
Lean said to him, " I sent for you to go to Ireland ; you are a 
clever man and you have seven sons, go and bring me the 
head of O'Power, and any crime you may commit, or any 

Fair Lachlan of Dervaig. 71 

injustice you may from this time do to any one, will be over 
looked by me (tha thu : n ad dhuine tapaidh 's seachdnar mhac 
agad, falbh 's thoir g am ionnsuidh ceann Uilleam O' buaidhe 's 
aona chron na anaceart sain bith n\ thu theid a mhathadh dhuit 
learns a). Next day, Lachunn Jiotin with his sons set off in the 
galley, and before sundown he was in Islay. The following day he 
was in Ireland, and asked the first person he met for the man he 
was tracing (a bha e air a luirg). "If you wish to see him," the 
person said, "he is coming this way, in a coach drawn by two 
white horses, and no one in Ireland has that but himself." The 
old man then went on to try and meet him, and after going a short 
distance he saw him coming towards him to meet him (chaidh 
an sean duine air aghaidh feuch an tachradh e air, '$ an ceann 
ceum na dha chunnaic e e tighinn 'na choinneamh 's 'na chbmhail). 
When he came near, O'Power (O' buaidh) commanded him to 
stop^and said, " I see you are a stranger in the place ? " 
" ftaa4£ja^-he replied, (seadh ars' esan). " Whence have you 
come ?" the Chief asked, (Co as a thainig thu ?). " I came 
from Tiree," he answered. " Do you know the lady of Mac- 
Lean there?" " I know her well," he said. " Will you bring 
her a message from me?" (An toir thu fios uam g' a h-ionns- 
uidh ?) " I will," he said, (bheir, ars' esan). The chief there 
and then put the message in or<,Jer, and put his head out of 
the coach to deliver it, but the other, while taking it with the 
one hand, struck off his head with the other hand. (Sinfhein 
chuir e l n teachdaireachd air doigh 's chuir e mach a cheann g'a 
toirtdd, 's 'nuair bha e 'ga gabhail Zeis an aona laimh thilg e dheth 
an ceann leis an laimh eile). The man-servant was sto pined 
(lit. went astray), (chaidh an gille air seacharan), and Fair 
Lachlan got an opportunity (fhuair e fath) of taking the head 
with him to the galley with which he set sail (l eig e ri cuain di) 
and was in Islay on his return journey that evening. Next day 
after (inaireach 'na dheighinn sin) he was in Tiree, and went 
early in the day to Island House (do 'n cilcan). Finding, on 

72 Fair Lachlan of Dervaig. 

reaching, that Mac Lean and his wife were at breakfast, he went 
in where they were and put the head of the Irish Chief on the 
end of the table, with the face towards MacLean's wife. She 
looked at it and fell down stone dead at the side of the table 
(sheall i air 's thuit ifuar marbh aig taobh a! bhiiird). Some 
time after this Fair Lachlan's sons were taking peats home 
from Moss to Hynish. There were five of them with seven 
horses, which were fastened together, and went on one after 
another, having a sort of deep basket {cliabh) slung on each side 
of each horse for the conveyance of burdens. On account of 
Big Dewar of Balemartin, who was so fierce, (co fiadhaich) they 
could not take the straight way by Balemartin to Hynish, but 
had to take the more rugged path by Hynish hill, where, at 
Creag nan cliabh (Creel rock) the footpath was so narrow that 
on these occasions a person was in waiting to be in readiness 
to take the creels off the horses and carry them past the rock. 
At that time, there was a mill past Balviceon, with a bridge 
across the dam which had to be lifted before sundown, and on 
their way they had to pass across the bridge. It happened 
on this occasion that the young men, by their own folly (le '« 
amaideachd fhein J, were later than usual of returning, and the 
bridge was withdrawn ; and with the speed with which they 
were going on, they did not observe that the bridge was lifted, 
and the foremost of the horses went headlong into the dam 
and was choked (air a thachdadh). The lads made their 
way home, and told their father how the miller had taken 
away the bridge, and what had happened to them. He 
said, "If my horse was choked on his account (air a thaillibh), 
the same thing will be done to him to-night yet"; and 
that was what happened. He and his sons went back the 
same way, step by step, (air a! cheart cheum), and they caught 
the poor man while he was asleep (rug iad air an duine 'na 
leabaidh) and took him with them and hung him on the hillock 
of the cross (bac na croiche), opposite Island House. When a 

Fair Lachtan of Dervaig. 7 3 

servant went in early next morning to kindle a fire in the room 
where MacLean was, he asked what sort of day it was. The 
servant said that it was a good day, but that a strange sight was 
to be seen (ni a tha cuir iogh?iadh mbr orm rifhaicinn). " What 
is that?" the Chief asked. "It is a man hung on the hillock up 
yonder (duine air a chrochadh air a* chroich shuas ud). MacLean 
said, as he rose up, " Who or what person dared do this without 
my permission ? (Co a?i aona duine 'san diithaich aig an robh 
'chridh leithid so dheanamh gun chuir 'nam cheadsa ?) When he 
saw the deed that was done, he shed bitter tears, and said that no 
one had done this but Fair Lachlan (cha d' rinn duine riamh 
so ach Lachunn ftotin). "It was in the agreement I made with 
him when he brought me the man's head from Ireland." This 
was the last hanging that was done in the island (b'e so an 
crochadh mu dheireadh a rinneadh 's an eilean). 


A Story of Lochmaree. 1 

At one time the King of Denmark is said to have sent his son 
to the Scottish court along with six others (seisear eile). They 
landed in Caithness, where, as they came chiefly for sport, they 
began to look for deer and other wild animals, and to enquire 
where they were to be found. They were told that all animals 
of the chase had become scarce since more people had come 
to that part, but that in the neighbouring parts of the country, 
especially in Ross-shire, they were still numerous, and if they 
went there they would get abundant sport. They went, and 
while they remained lived in a house of the MacKenzies', near 
Lochmaree. One day then, when following deer in the hill, 
the young prince got separated from his companions, who each 
and all found their way safely home. When he came in sight 
of the house, being fatigued, he sat down by the roadside and 
fell asleep He was awakened by the sound of voices, and on 
looking he saw two men, one of whom was young and the other 
old, coming on the road towards him with a young woman 
walking between. He got up, and as they were coming nearer 
he was making out that he never saw a more beautiful woman. 
He stood before them and spoke. The old man said, "You 
are doing wrong in delaying us on our way." "Methinks," 
said the young prince, , " that I am not doing any thing out of 
the way, nor have I spoken a wrong word " The old man got 
angry, and calling him rough names said he was ill-bred. "That 
was not the way in which I was taught," the prince answered, 

Princess Thyra and her Lovers. 75 

" I have the blood of the kings of Denmark in my veins, and I 
am inclined to put your head as low as your shoes for your 
ill words (air son do dhroch bheul) which I have not deserved." 
When the ■ old man heard this he became afraid, and made 
excuses for the warmth of temper he had shewn, but said he 
was under vows to protect the girl from all intrusion, "the 
reason being that she is with us under the vows of the church 
(fo naomhachadh na h-eaglais), by her father's commands," and 
told him that they came ashore from the monastery of Isle- 
maree and were to return before nightfall. " I would like well 
to know who the maiden is whom you befriend," said the 
young prince. "The name of the daughter is," the old man 
answered, " Princess Thyra (Deorath) of the house of Ulster 
in Ireland — and let us now pass." In the parting the young 
prince said to the maiden, " As this has been our first meeting, 
so I fear it is to be our last : Farewell !" "I do not say," she 
answered. He went home, but, after some days, returned to 
the same place expecting to see the same company, but no one 
came ashore from the islet that day. The next time he went 
he waited two days in vain, and the third time three days, and 
returned home in the same way ill-pleased at his mischance. 
He then resolved to go to the isle if there was a way of getting 
io it. He was told that a man on the other side of the loch 
had a boat, and he went to him and got him to go with him. 
On landing, the man pointed out to him the way to the monas- 
tery, and told him that he would come to a well, which he was 
not to pass till he drank of its water ; that the well was famed 
for its efficacy in every malady to which mankind is subject, 
and especially in restoring those who had lost their reason ; 
" and beside the well," said the man, " there is a tree with a 
hollow in its side (slochd 'n a taobh), and no one goes past it 
without putting something of more or less value in." The 
youth went ashore, and, heedless of tree and well, reached 
the house and demanded admittance at the first door he met. 

76 Princess Thyra and her Lovers. 

When asked what brought him, or why he came, he said he 
came to see the Irish princess. He was told that could not be 
(ni nach gabhadh deanamh). He then asked if there was any 
one in authority of whom he could make the request, and was 
told there was the oldest of rank in the monastery, who, when 
he came, said, "No! you cannot see the princess." The young 
man then told who he was, and said, " If I want her for my 
wife and she consents, can you prevent the union?" "We 
will leave the matter to her own will," the old man answered. 
She came gladly, and the prince spent that day on the islet. 
Before he left she said, " I have a doubt in this matter." 
"What is that?" he asked. " It is that I never saw you but 
once before now, neither did you see me, and if love comes 
quickly, it may go as quickly." "You know that from yourself," 
he said. " No," she answered. He told her to look at the 
evening star, which was to be seen in the south-western sky, 
and said, " As truly as that star shines on yonder hill, so truly 
do I love you." "I have another doubt," she said. "Your 
doubts are very many," he said. Her doubt was, that Red 
Hector of the hills, as he was called from being among the 
hills day and night, would be a dangerous foeman if he met 
him on his way. He returned, landed, and having cause, as 
he thought, to be pleased with events, was going on joyously 
and light-hearted, whistling as he went along. He was not far 
on his way when an arrow passed close to his face ; the next 
one stuck in his bonnet. He stood looking about him and 
saw a big man standing beside a rock that was at the roadside 
before him. " What sort of man are you, when you are going 
to make a target of me?" the prince said. " Have you never 
heard of Red Hector of the hills (Eachann Ruadh nan cnoc)} 
If you have not, you now see him and will feel his skill. There 
is a matter to settle between us which can never be done but in 
one way, and that is, that you kill me or I kill you." They 
took their swords, one each (daidheamh an t-aon), blood was 

Princess Thyra and her Lovers. 77 

shed ; the prince then asked if there was no other way of 
settling the matter except by bloodshed. " Do not waste 
speech (Na bi 'cosg do sheanachais) ; that you kill me or I kill 
you, there is no other way," he said, and struck the prince on 
the side with his sword and sorely wounded him. He fell and 
his enemy fled. The wounded man kept his hand on the 
wound, but whenever he moved the blood spurted from it, and 
he was passing the night in that way till his tongue became 
swollen in his mouth. In the midst of his agony he heard the 
drip of a streamlet in the hollow underneath where he lay, and 
tried to move himself towards it, but could not, though he 
made every effort. At last he thought it was better to bleed to 
death than die of thirst, and by dragging himself along he 
reached the water, but before he got to drink of it he fainted 
and lay beside the streamlet till next day, when those, the 
humane people (na daoine cneasda), who came ashore in the 
boat heard his moaning, and recognising him, took him back 
to the islet, where he remained unconscious for many weeks, 
during which his own men, who had been brought to the isle, 
and the princess attended him. When he recovered and knew 
that the maiden's constant care and watchfulness had helped to 
restore him to life, he expressed much gratitude. " When you 
are up and well," she said, "it will be time to thank me." He 
kept telling her every day how he would take her to Denmark. 
One day then a ship was seen coming, from which a boat was 
sent ashore to take away the maiden, whose father lay dying. 
"Will you return?" he said. "I will return," she said. "And 
you will not forget me among your own people." " Nothing 
but death will prevent my return," she said. She went away, 
and nothing was heard of her for many days. In his impatience 
the prince sent men from day to day to the top of the highest 
hills to look for the ship. At last they saw three ships coming, 
and the first had the royal flag of Ireland in its topmast. Some 
time before the maiden left the islet, the prince one day when 

78 Princess Thyra and her Lovers. 

on land met an old man who intercepted him ; his men bade 
the intruder keep to one side of the road, but the man refused 
to be put aside, and the prince then asked what his business 
was with him. " Do not speak so gruffly," the old man said, 
" I have come to you, as I am in need of shelter, to ask if you 
will take me into your service while you are here." " My 
burden is on others at present," the prince said, "and little an 
old man like you with a staff in his hand can do to help me. 
Have you a house or home?" "I had till yesterday; to-day I 
have nothing. I had house, wife, son, land, cattle, and yester- 
day every beast that I had was lifted, except a stray sheep, and 
my son went in search of it and fell over the rocks (chaidh am 
balach his na creagan) and was killed. When his mother heard 
what had happened to him she went to the place, and on seeing 
her son dead she leapt in the sea and was drowned, and I am 
left alone. If you will take me with you I will do you more 
service in the hills than a younger man can do." He said his 
name was MacKenzie (Dughall MacChoinnich). The prince 
took him to be with them while they remained in the isle. 

When the ships were seen the prince went to the highest 
summit of the hills, taking with him, among the rest, the old 
man, who on their way said, " Delay (air do s/iocair), till I tell 
you my dream." " I care naught for dreams," the other said. 
" Will you not listen, for I dreamt the same dream three nights 
after each other; and it was that she was dead." "We wish to 
get joyous news and you have given us instead news of sorrow." 
The old man then said, " I will go to the ship, and when I 
reach, if all is well you will see a red signal, and if sorrow 
awaits you it will be a black one." He went, and on reaching, 
she was there. She knew him and asked if all was well. He 
told her, and she said, " He is impatient for news." He then 
persuaded the princess, against her own will and the advice of 
those around her, to shew the death-signal, saying the joy of 
seeing her living would compensate her lover for the deception. 

Princess Thyra and her Lovers. 79 

When the signal was seen by those on land, the prince said he 
could no longer live, and took his dagger from its sheath and 
killed himself. When the princess reached the shore, those 
who met her told her how her lover, believing that she was 
dead, had killed himself. She asked where he was, and said that 
no seen or unseen power could prevent her from taking a last fare- 
well, and that she would go alone and do no injury to herself. 
When she was going in where the dead body lay, she noticed 
that some one was following her, and turning she saw that the 
intruder was the old man, "Wretched Dugall (a dhroch 
Dhughaill), what evil advice you gave me." "That is not my 
name," he said, " I am Red Hector of the hills, and this is my 
revenge!" and he killed her with his dirk. He then dis- 
appeared and was never seen or heard of in the country after 
that time. 

Note . 

1. Lochmaree is in the west of Ross-shire. It lies S.E. and N.W., 
and has 24 islets throughout its length of about 18 miles. Its breadth 
is from one to two miles, and its depth prevents its water from freezing. 



At one time it is said the outermost of the western isles formed 
three separate and independent possessions ; the northern part 
of the Long Island (an t-eilean fada), Lewis (Lebdhais), was 
held by one Cenmal ( Ceannamhaot [baldhead] ), who was a 
king, while the southern portion, Harris (na h-Earra), was 
owned by a prince ; and another king, one named Keligan 
[thin one], possessed Uist, which is further south. In this way 
Lewis and Uist had each a king, while there was only a prince 
in Harris. This prince, who was famed for his courage and 
bravery, was held in great esteem by those on his land for the 
good advice (na comhairlean dealbhach) they readily got from 
him and the benefits he conferred on them. He discouraged 
bickerings and jealousy (farmad) among his subordinates and 
neighbours, and spread among them a knowledge of many use- 
ful arts. He encouraged manual labour as well as manly 
exercise and the recitation of poems, romance, etc. His wife, 
Garlatha, was not less namely for her goodness to those around 
her, among whom she promoted thrifty and industrious habits, 
and taught the use and methods of preparing different kinds of 
roots, grain and plants, for food and healing, and to be kind 
and tender to the weak and infirm, and to live good lives. In 
this way the people on their land were contented with their 
condition and sought no change. Garlatha died, it is said, 
about 800 A.D. — a long time ago, but whatever it was, she 
went away, (and it was not to be helped), leaving an infant 
daughter who was named after her mother, Garlatha. As the 
girl grew up it was seen that she inherited her mother's good 

Garlatha, a Tradition of Harris. 81 

gifts, and the people were equally well pleased with her. In 
time she began to be spoken about and heard of, and was 
sought in marriage by numerous suitors. The king who ruled 
in Lewis was eager in pursuit of her ('an toir oirre), and crossed 
over to see her. The ruler (fear-riaghlaidh) of Uist came on 
the same errand. One day then her father said to her, 
" Daughter, I wish to see you married, before the end of my 
life comes, to a good man, and I am looking to see which of 
those men who come to see you is the most suitable, and I see 
that it will suit you best to take him who is in Lewis." His 
daughter preferred the one who owned Uist, but by her father's 
advice word was sent to the possessor of Lewis to come and 
that he would get her. He came, and being well pleased with 
his reception every arrangement was made, and they were 
married. Afterwards the bride said to a maid, "You will go 
in to the entertainment (fleadh) and among the company : I 
am going to hide myself." This was done, and the company 
sat at the feast without the bride, for whose coming a long 
delay was made. When it was seen that she would not return, 
the question of what had become of her or where she was, was 
asked of every one, but no one knew. The maid was asked, 
but she had not any knowledge or tale (fios no sgeul) to tell of 
where the lost one was to be found. The time was passing 
(bha '« zlineachd 'ruith) and search was made outside for her, 
but she was not fouud. Then they looked for her from place 
to place, where it was possible to find her, but without success. 
The night passed, leaving the feast untouched and the guests 
cheerless. Next day the search was renewed along the shores 
and among the hills, and in every direction from day to day, 
till there was not a spot between Barra Head and the Butt of 
Lewis where a bird could sleep, that was not searched, but 
there was no trace of her (cha a v fhuaireadh riamh i, cha d' 
fhuaireadh idir i). The father continued to wander about, 
searching in vain, for many years after all hope of finding her 


82 Garlatha, a Tradition of Harris. 

was dead, till at last he was seen to turn every leaf he met with 
the staff in his hand, and even to look under ragweed (buagh- 
allan). He died, and she was not found. The place, Harris, 
was then 200 years without any one to—own it ( thug an t-aite 
sin da cheud bliadhna gun duine aim). MacLeod (fear Mac 
Lebid) then took possession of the country and began to build 
new houses ; the old dwellings had become uninhabitable (air 
dolfas) ; the roof had fallen in (thuit an ceann } n am broinn). 
When clearing out one of these an old chest was found, and 
on lifting it the lower part remained on the ground, with the 
skeleton of a woman resting in it, each bone according to its 
place (cnaimh a reir etiaitnh), and by its side the wedding-ring, 
as new as it Was"on"'t!he aay it was put on her finger, with the 
name " Garlatha " engraved on it, and from that the story came. 


1. The Long Island includes the whole of the land between the 
Butt of Lewis and Barra Head. 



The incidents of this tradition are said to have happened in 
Lewis, but the readiness with which similar stories are approp- 
riated and localised makes it improbable that the circumstances 
occurred in any special locality. In this instance the person 
from whom the story was heard being a native of Lewis will 
account for the incidents of the story having been said to have 
taken place in that Island. The story is as follows : — 

The wife of a tenant farmer, who lived with his family in an 
extremely remote and hilly rough district, was frequently left 
alone in the house, as she had no daughters, while her husband 
and sons were away at the labour of the farm, or fishing. It 
happened one day after they had left, that the housewife having 
finished her housework, sat as usual at the spinning-wheel to 
spin thread for cloth (do) for their clothing. She had not long 
begun her labour, when, happening to look towards the door, 
she saw a little woman of reddisji^appearance coming in at the 
door with a dog before and one after her. " Woman," she said, 
"you are spinning." " I am," the housewife answered. "Will 
you give me a drink of water?" she said. "Take it yourself," 
the housewife said. " The water is good, where is the well?" 
she asked. "It is down," said the one who was in, "in the opening 
of the hollow of the glen (aig dorus 'an lag a! ghlinne)." The 
fay woman (a' bhean-shlth) then asked the housewife to lend 
her a small cauldron, and the other woman believing her to be 
sister-in-law or some other relative she did not know of the wife 


84 A Housewife and her Fairy Visitor. 

of her nearest neighbour, who lived far distant from them and 
was married to an Ardnamurchan woman, said to her, " There 
is a table there with se ve r al - u tensils (caigionn choireachan) on 
its shelf ; take with you any of them that will answer. " When 
she brought it, she asked for the suspender (biilas) and lid. 
The moment she got them she fitted them in and told the dogs 
that were with her to take that with them. The dogs im- 
mediately caught the three-legged pot and took it with them. 
When her husband came home the housewife said, " I think 
there is a stranger with our neighbours," and told him about her 
visitor. " Perhaps," her husband said, " she is the sister-in-law; 
it was time some one came to see the wife, for none of her 
friends have been since she came here." " I never saw the sort 
of dogs she had, ever here," his wife said, and described to him 
the dogs and how they were different altogether from sheep- 
dogs. " Our neighbours have only one dog and it is a sheep- 
dog," he said. This day passed and another and the third, but 
the cauldron was not returned. The housewife then sent one 
of her sons to ask the neighbours to return the loan. These 
said that they did not get a loan of anything, as they did not 
require it, having more cauldrons and kettles than was required 
by themselves, and that no strangers had come or were with 
them. The housewife was at her wit's end and did not know in 
the world or time to come (uile bheatha na dllinn) what to 
think about the matter. On the fifth day, however, the self- 
same one returned with the cauldron. " I am sure," she said, 
" that you were missing the cauldron." " I was," the housewife 
replied, " not from any need I had of it at the time, but because 
I did not know who the one was that took it away." " I am 
sure you did not know who took it," said the one that came in, 
" but I knew you too well ; many a day you sang songs above 
my house ('s iomadh latha 'sheinn thu luinneag air mullach an 
Ugh agam)P "Will you sit?" said the one who was spinning. 
" I will sit and tell my story if you are sure that no one will 

A Housewife and her Fairy Visitor. 85 

come in while I am here." As was customary in those days 
the byre adjoined the dwelling-house, whatever kind of wall 
(sgath-baUa) separated them, and one of the cows that had 
calved and was in the byre, made a disturbance (straighlich). 
The next look the woman took she was alone. On her 
husband's return, she said, "You may not leave me here alone ; 
one of the children must be left with me or I will be where 
you are ;" and she told him about the second time her strange 
visitor came and how suddenly she had disappeared. The 
goodman then went for advice to one, the minister, who he 
knew was able to give him good counsel. On telling about the 
undesirable visitor his wife had, the advice he got was that he 
was to pull down his house as quickly as possible, and to put it 
at the other end of the land; "and when you will pull down 
your house, every particle (h-uile pioc) of the thatch that covers 
it is to be burnt within the rafters on which nine cogfuls of sea- 
water or charmed {naoi cuachan saile no uisge coisrigte) is to be 
poured." The goodman returned home with this advice. 
When his wife heard it she said that she must get women to 
help her to finish the cloth she was working at, and it was agreed 
to give her the help she required. On account of the dampness 
of the houses the method of keeping the thread and wool dry 
was by hanging them up to the rafters. Next morning the 
goodwife missed a pile of wool from its place, but believing 
that it was her son, who often played pranks on her, who had 
removed it, she said nothing regarding its disappearance. Next 
day, however, she was astonished at seeing her late strange 
visitor with another and a taller one coming in. "I am sure," 
said the little redhued one, "you were missing the bag of wool 
We took it with us to help you, and there it is brought home 
made into thread, and your own thread that we took with us for 
a pattern (leth-bhreac); and any time you have thread to spin, 
we are ready to help you." The goodwife was overcome with 
fear and could not utter a word to them. They went away, and 

86 The Wise Woman and the Fairies. 

she never saw themselves or their shadow (an dubh no 'n dath) 
ever afterwards. The house was taken down and another was 
built where they chose it to be, but after some time an old man 
saw five of the fairy company leaving the well at the foot of the 
glen, each carrying a vessel full of water, and the place where 
he saw them going in and lost sight of them, was afterwards 
quarried, and the stone taken from it was employed to build a 
church that stands at the present day. An opening that was 
met with, in the quarry, where human bones were found, was 
supposed to be the place where the fairy band entered their 


>^^/(xX)q. THE FAIRIES. 

' AL 


ord of the Isles, Mac Connal (Buachaille nan Eileinean), 
long ago had two sons, but only one could get the estate at his 
death. When that happened the eldest son said one day to the 
youngest, " You are now left without anything, but, that you 
may not be altogether portionless, go to Duntulm and you will 
get there a piece of land that you will have to yourself." The 
lands of Duntulm, in the northern part of the Island of Skye, 
were at that time occupied by a prosperous tenantry, consisting 
chiefly of crofters and the holders of a few larger farms. The 
youngest brother was told that the rent he would get from 

The Wise Woman and the Fairies. 87 

these tenants would maintain him, and he was to build a house 
and marry a wife. He agreed to go to Duntulm, where he was 
not a long time settled till a claim was made on his land for the 
king's dues, the crown tax being in proportion to the amount of 
land which he held. The first time the tax (V chis) was asked, 
he said, in answer to the demand which was made, "I 
will not pay any tax. Why should I pay it ? What right has 
the king to get it?" An order was sent to him every year for 
payment of the tax, but if it was, for six years he did not pay 
any of it (cha do phaidh e sgillinn). At last the king sent fifty 
soldiers and one officer to take the rent from him in spite of 
him (thar 'amkaicaj, and since he would pay to neither king 
nor soldier, the lands were taken from him and they were now 
attached to the crown. The king was receiving the revenue, 
and a Skye carl (bodach Sgitheanach) called John Donaldson 
MacWilliam (Iain Mac DhomhnuiWic Uilleim) was appointed 
a factor to collect the rents from the crofters. He lived sixteen 
miles from Duntulm, among the crofts, where he went twice a 
year to gather the tax. MacConnal's castle was built on a 
precipitous bank, on the west side of which there was a big. pit 
into which every high tide sent a flow of water that kept it 
always full, forming a deep pool (glumag) that sometimes 
proved dangerous to the unwary. One day it happened that 
whatever a crofter, one Macrury, was doing at the castle, he 
fell headlong into the pool, and however it was, whether he 
was killed by the fall or drowned, he was found dead next day 
anyhow. He left two sons who were not of age to help their 
widowed mother, for whom much sympathy was felt by her 
neighbours on account of her being left so helpless (bha i air 
afagail cho lorn). Next spring after this the two lads were 
drowned in a boat with which they were bringing sea-ware 
home, and being now alone she could not work her croft nor 
pay her rent. When everything was spent, and she had only 
one cow left of her fold of cattle, the factor came for the tax. 

88 The Wise Woman and the Fairies. 

On reaching the township he took with him a carle, friendly to 
himself, to the widow's house, where the neighbours had 
gathered to ascertain the object of their visit. When the factor 
was told that the poor woman had no means to pay her rent, 
he asked if she had no cattle. She said that she had only one 
cow and that it was grazing at some distance from the house. 
He asked it to be brought where he was, and when he saw it 
he said, " It is a pity there are not more of the kind." Being 
the only one, it had got all the attention and was in good 
condition. She said she had no other. He said, " We will 
keep this one for the dues." It was taken away from the 
widow and put in a field that was surrounded by a stone wall, 
near the castle, along with the small red pony which the factor 
had with him. While he was in search of some one to drive it 
away, and taking his dinner in the carle's house, the young men 
of Duntulm climbed over the wall of the field, though high, 
and got out the animals, which they drove to the shore, where 
a boat was in readiness in which they were taken to the islet of 
Fladda (Fladda 'chuain), two miles off. The men put them 
ashore there, and had their boat drawn up in Duntulm Bay 
before the factor and his companion returned to look for their 
property and found the park empty. On asking the men, who 
had again gathered, if they knew how the animals had escaped 
or where they were, they said there was no gap in the wall 
known to them, and that the only person likely to know of 
their whereabouts was a gifted woman who lived near the castle, 
in search of whom two of them went. They found her at 
home, on reaching the height where her house was, and told 
her all that had occurred, and how she was to go with them and 
say that the cattle had been charmed away to some wonderful 
place. Isabel said that she was not well prepared to go that 
day. The men asked what preparation she lacked ('dea njion 
dbigh a bh! oirre). She then asked for one of the men's broad 
bonnets, and when she got it, rose, and leaving her hair, which 

The Wise Woman and the Fairies. 89 

was becoming grey, streaming over her shoulders, she put it on, 
and tying a goatskin round her, tying her shoes and making 
garters with stripes of the same fur, she put a rope of straw 
round her waist and took a large staff in her hand. " She is 
prepared at last, and come now," the men said. When she 
came in sight, the factor looked at her in amazement, for he 
had never before seen a creature of her appearance. Before 
she came near he called, " Wife, do you know where the horse 
and cow I put in the park are now ?" She paid no attention 
to him, but kept on coming nearer (cha do lag i air a ceum)*_ 
till she stood at his shoulder. "To whom did the animals 
belong?" she asked him then. "The cow belonged to the 
king," he said, "and the horse to myself.' "How could a cow 
belonging to the king be in this township?" she asked. "This 
woman gave it to me for the tax," he said, pointing to the 
widow. "She did not give it to you; she said you took it with 
you; and it is now that I understand the meaning of what 
happened when I was in my own house to-day, and heard an 
uproar (straighlich) in the air above that was greater than any 
one could ever have heard, and on looking for the cause of it, 
there it was in a fire; and though all the fires that you ever saw 
were gathered together, they would not make one like it ; and 
in the last of the fire ('an earball an teine) I looked to see what 
there was, and what was there but a horse and cow, while there 
were as good as five thousand little men, the hill men {muinntir 
nan cnoc)> who were not larger than bottles, going on, on each 
side of the fire ; and if you had as much knowledge of the 
dwellers of these hills as I have, you would not touch the 
widow's portion, but if you are anxious to get back the animals 
— there before you, is the hill where they are, and where you 
can go and seek them, and if you can, find them." The man, 
who was terrified by her appearance and words, kept looking 
at her (fr afeitheamh) and always drawing a step further off. 
He went home without horse or cow, and however long he 

90 The Wise Woman and the Fairies. 

remained in the office he held, the fear of the wise woman, 
(Iseabal APic Raduilt) and the fairies kept him from ever 
returning to Duntulm. When he was out of sight of the town- 
ship, the young men of Duntulm went to the islet where they 
left the animals, which they brought back and gave to the poor 
woman, who was then able to pay the tax. 

[Aa^ C/l<^~- 



A Tale of Enchantment. 

In early times, long ago, ('an toiseach an t-saoghail^ o chionn 
nan dan), it is said that the island of Mull was uninhabited 
except by a few families who were living, on the south side at 
Carsaig, in that part of the island known as the Ross of Mull. 
These families lived isolated from the rest of the world; none 
of them had ever seen any one from anywhere else there, and 
none of themselves had ever left the place. They had no 
boats, and they said the other islets and land that they were 
seeing opposite were other worlds. One day, then, they saw 
coming on the sea before them (mu 'n comhair) from the main- 
land a speck (ditradan), and when it came near they compared 
it to a horse with a tree standing on its back, but when it came 
to the shore it was a boat made of wicker-work covered with 
hides, with one man in it, who had some drink with him, and 
a quantity of hazel nuts for food, On account of his boat 
being covered with hides 1 , they named him "The cowhide 
man, (am boicionnach). On landing, he told them how he had 
left home, out of curiosity to see other places, and that was the 
first place he was able to reach. He is said to have come from 
Ardencaple in the district of Lorn on the mainland (Ard-nan- 
capull, 'an Lathurna.) He stayed a long time with them, as 
they treated him kindly, being much pleased with him. He 
taught them new ways that were useful to them in their every 
day life, and by his skill and knowledge promoted their welfare 
in many ways. On seeing that they were not utilizing the milk 

92 The Two Brothers. 

of their cows and goats by making cheese from it, he asked 
them the reason of this. They told him that they did not know 
what cheese was, as they had never heard of it nor seen it, and 
would like well to know how it was made. They had the art 
of making butter among them previous to his coming. He took 
in Lus-buidhe-bealltainn, (marsh marigold) and putting its stalks 
in the milk turned it to curds and whey. This is said to be the 
first cheese that was made in Mull. Some time, nearly a year 
after this, another boat, or, as they described it, a horse with a 
tree in its back, was seen coming in the same way. This one 
came ashore at Lochspelvie, further eastward, and had one man 
in it also, whom they named "The one in the skin coverings" 
(an craicionnach). He was brother to the one who came before, 
and had come in search of him. The two strangers and the 
natives were agreeing well together, and the brothers began to 
build a boat when they found wood abundant in Mull. When 
the boat was finished they named it "the six-oared boat" 
(iicrach nan sia ramh), and when it was fitted up and made 
ready for sailing, the two brothers took a crew with them and 
set off in it, to go to one or other of the worlds (na saoghalan 
eile) that they were seeing before them, and reached Jura 
(Diura), but the natives of the island would not let them land, 
as they had never seen a boat before. They stoned them away 
from the shore. They then went to Colonsay, but the Colonsay 
men (na Colosaich) were equally hard-hearted (doirbh). They 
attacked them, and tried to blind them by throwing sand 
about their eyes. It was then that they went on to the green 
(lit., blue) island (an t-eikan gorm), the name by which Islay 
was then known, where they arrived at a more favourable time, 
no one being before them at the shore. They drew the boat 
up on the land, and went on to see if there were people to be 
found on the island or if they would meet with anyone who 
could direct them to a house. The first person they met was 
an old man who was watching cattle (aig aire s'reud). He 

The Two Brothers. 93 

thought they belonged to the island, as no one was known to 

have ever come to or gone away from it. The first of the 

brothers who came, asked the old man to give him information 

about the place. The old man remarked, "How curious your 

speech is, if you were born in this island." He said, "No, I 

am not a native of this island." The old man said, "And if 

not, what has brought you here?" "The reason of my coming 

is, to ask what you can give, and give what I may." The 

old man then, as it was nightfall, kindled a fire, and they 

sat with him till daylight, when men and houses were 

to be seen. The Islay men were hospitable to the 

strangers, who remained a full year and built seven boats 

for them. The elder brother married a woman of the country, 

and after some time he thought of returning to Mull again. 

Having prepared his boat he set off, taking his wife and the 

others with him, and set his course northwards (aghaidh a 

bhata, tuath). They had not gone far when a thick mist came 

on which darkened their world, and as they had no compass and 

could see no land, they drifted till the boat went in to a shore. 

r ~\ 1 

This was the first appearance of land they saw since leaving the y^' 

Eilean Gorm. A big man came down where they were — they 

never saw his equal for size — and he caught the fore part of the 

boat and drew it up above high water mark, with them all in it. 

He invited them to go to his house. They went with him and 

were made welcome. The daughter of the house, on being 

asked by the elder of the two brothers for a drink, brought a 

a two-hooped wooden dish full of milk, set it on the floor beside 

them and went away. One of the strangers rose to lift the dish 

and he could not. Then three of them rose, but it defied them 

to lift it. She came back, and finding the dish as she left it, 

said, " If you have quenched your thirst it is not awanting from 

the measure (air a! mheasair). The cowhide one replied, " We 

have not been accustomed to stoop like cattle (cromadh mar 

bha) when we take a drink, and we could not lift the dish." At 

94 The Two Brothers, 

that she caught the wooden dish by the ear, in her left hand, 
and held the drink to them all. "Where have you come from," 
she said, "or where are you going?" "We came from the 
dark-blue sea-isle," he said, " and are going to the hilly isle (do 
'« eilean bheannach)." " That is Mull," she said, " Mull of my 
love, Mull of little men (Muile mo ghrdidA, Muile nam fear 
beaga)." They passed that night cheerfully together, and went 
to put off to sea next day ; but when they tried to move the 
boat and get it afloat, they might as well attempt to move the 
Rhinns of Islay (an Roinn Ileach) they could not move it. 
The young wife who came with them from Islay said then, " I 
know where we are ; we are in the green isle that is under 
spells (fo gheasaibh), but I have a gift that will let us leave it," 
and she told those with her how her mother had at parting 
given her a cap, saying, " If you are ever in a strait, put it on, 
and you must at the same time bend your head to the ground 
as low as your feet seven times (seachd uairean do shrbn a 
bhualadh ri brdaig do choise)." She had the cap in her belt 
('n a cneas), and she told them to sit in the boat and take the 
oars. She then stood in their midst, touched the cap, bent her 
head, and it went up to her breast (an cneas); the next time it 
went up to her neck (am muineat) ; the third time, to her chin, 
(an smigead) ; then, as she bent her head, at the fourth time, it 
went up past her mouth to her nose ; the next time, it reached 
her eyes, then her forehead, at last the top of her head, and the 
boat was off. The mist was still there. They asked the eldest 
brother in which direction they were to set their course. He 
told them to follow the flight of birds, as they went shorewards 
in the evening and would guide them to land. There is a 
saying about the home-coming of birds and fish, that " Birds of 
the universe go westward, and fish of the deep eastward (Ebin 
an domhain, star, } s iasg an domhain, sear)." During the night, 
the younger brother, the one of skins, called out that there 
was a mound before them (gu 'n robh tbrr rompa). His brother 

The Two Sisters and the Curse. 95 

who was in the afterpart of the boat said, " Is it a tbrr without 
grass," and it has got the name of Torrens to the present day < 
('se na tbrraiu a theirear riu gus an la 'n diugh). They reached 
Mull shore when it was day, and they ran-in the boat at a 
narrow strait that was like an opening in a dyke (cachaileith 
gharaidh), and before they got them from the tholepins, the 
oars were broken. The place is still known as the narrow strait 
of broken oars (Caolas-a? -bhristidh-ramh). They got on shore, 
and went home and told where they had been and what had 
happened to them. 

The person, now above 70 years of age, from whom the 
above story was taken down almost word for word by the 
writer, said that he heard the story when he was a young man, 
and that the following story (that of the two sisters), was a 
continuation of it ; the incidents of the story occurred during 
the absence of the two brothers from the place, and were told 
to them by the natives, in return for the story of their own 
adventures. The name Torquil, which occurs in this story, 
and the belief in witchcraft and occult power indicated, 
suggests that the colony in Mull came originally from Lochlin, 
or that the story belongs to a later period of history than that 
that of " The two brothers." The story is as follows : — 


Two sisters were living in the same township on the south side 
of Mull. One of them who was known as Lovely Mairearad 1 
had a fairy sweetheart, who came where she was, unknown to 
anyone, until one day she confided the secret to her sister, who 
was called Ailsa 3 (Ea/asaidJ, and told her how she dearly loved 
her fairy sweetheart. " And now, sister," she said, " you will 
not tell any one." " No," her sister answered, " I will not tell 
any one ; that story will as soon pass from my lips as it will 

g6 The Two Sisters and the Curse. 

from my knee (o y m ghliln)" ; but she did not keep her promise ; 
she told the secret of the fairy sweetheart to others, and when 
he came again, he found that he was observed, and he went 
away and never returned, nor was he seen or heard of ever after 
by any one in the place. When the lovely sister came to know 
this, she left her home and became a wanderer among the hills 
and hollows, and never afterwards came inside of a house door, 
to stand or sit down, while she lived. Those who herded 
cattle fag uallach threud) tried frequently to get near her and 
persuade her to return home, but they never succeeded further 
than to hear her crooning a melancholy song in which she told 
how her sister had been false to her, and that the wrong done 
to her would be avenged on the sister or her descendants, if a 
fairy (neach slth) has power. On hearing that Ailsa was 
married, she repeated, " Dun Ailsa is married and has a son 
Torquil, and the evil will be avenged on her or on him (pAbs, 
phbs Ealasaid Odhar* &C.J." What she hummed in her 
mournful song was : — 

My mother's place is deserted, empty and cold, 
My father, who loved me, is asleep in the tomb, 
Friendless and solitary I wander through the fields, 
Since there is none in the world of my kindred 
But a sister without pity. 

She asked, and I told, out of the fulness of my joy ; 
There was none nearer of kin to know my secret ; 
But I felt, and this brought the tears to my eyes, 

(lit, raindrip on my sight), 
That a story comes sooner from the lip than from the knee. 

She was then heard to utter these wishes — 

May nothing on which you have set your expectations ever grow, 

Nor dew ever fall on your ground. 

May no smoke rise from your dwelling, 

In the depth of the hardest winter, 

May the worm be in your store, 

And the moth under the lid of your chests. 

If a fay-being has power, 

Revenge will be taken though it may be on your descendants. 

The Two Sisters and the Curse. 97 

Tha suidheag mo mhathar gu fas, falamh, fuar, 

Tha m' athair 'thug- luaidh dhomh 'n a shuain fo 'n lie. 

Gun daoine gun duine na raoin tha mi 'siubhal, 

'S gun 's an t-saoghal do 'm chuideachd 

Ach piuthar gun iochd. 

Dh' iarr ise 's thug mise do mheud mo thoil-inntinn ; 

'S mi gun neach 'bu dlsle g' an innsinn mo run ; 

Ach dh' fhairich mi sid 's thug e snidh' air mo l&rsinn 

Gur luaithe 'thig sgeul o 'n bheul na o 'n ghlun. e"T^ 

An sin thuirt i na guidheachan so : — C f* 


" Na-na-chinn 's na-na-chuir thu t-uidh, 

'S na-na-shil an driuchd ad ^lyios, n I . 

"S na-na-*«g^ad bhothan smuid 

Ann an dulachd cruth an crios; 

Gu 'n robh a' chnuimheag ann ad st6r 

'S an le6mann fo bh6rd do chist* ; 

Ma tha cumhachd aig neach slth, 

Dlolar ge b' ann air do shliochd." 

Ailsa (Ealasaid) married, and had one son. In some way 
her afflicted sister heard of this, and she then added to her 
song — 

Dun Ailsa has married, 

And she has a son Torquil. 

Brown-haired Torquil who can climb the headland 

And bring the seal off the waves, 

The sickle in your hand is sharp, 

You will in two swaths reap a sheaf. 

Phis, ph6s Ealasaid Odhar, 

'S tha mac aice — Torcuil. 

Torcuil donn 'dhlreadh sr6in, 

'S a bheireadh r6n bharr nan stuadh, 

Bu sgaiteach do chorran 'n ad dh6rn 

*S dheanadh tu dha dhl6th an sguab. 

Whatever gifts the brown-haired only child of her sister was 
favoured with, besides others, he was a noted reaper, but this 
gift proved fatal tp him (dK fhbghatnn e dha). When he grew 
up to manhpoo, ne could reap as much as seven men, and none 
among them could compete with him. He was then told that 


98 The Two Sisters and the Curse. 

a strange woman was seen coming to the harvest fields in 
autumn, after the reapers had left, and that she would reap a 
field before daylight next morning, or any part of the ripe corn 
that the reapers could not finish that day, and in whatever field 
she began, she left the work of seven reapers, finished, after 

her. She was knowiTaii the Maiden ot tfte uairn ( Uruagach* 
d chiiirnX from being seen to come out of a cairn over opposite. 
One evening then, brown-haired Torquil, who desired to see her 
at work, being later than usual of returning home, on looking 
back saw her beginning in his own field. He returned, and 
finding his sickle where he had put it away, he took it with him, 
and after her he went. He resolved to overtake her and began 
to reap the next furrow, saying, " You are a good reaper or I 
will overtake you;" but the harder he worked, the more he saw 
that instead of getting nearer to her, she was drawing further 
away from him, and he then called out to her, 

"Maiden of the cairn, wait for me, wait for me." (Ghruagach 
cC chuirn^ fuirich rium^fuirich Hum.) 

She said, answering him, 

" Handsome brown-haired youth, overtake me, overtake me." 
( Fhleasgaich d chuil-duinn^ beir orm> beir orm.) 

He was confident that he would overtake her, and went on 
after her till the moon was darkened by a cloud; he then 
called to her, 

" The moon is clouded (/*/. smothered by a cloud), delay, 
delay." (Tha 'ghealach air a muchadh fo nebil, fuirich rium, 
fuirich rium.) 

" I have no other light but her, overtake me, overtake me," 
she said. 

He did not, nor could he, overtake her, and on seeing again 
how far she was in advance of him, he said, "lam weary with 
yesterday's reaping, wait for me, wait for me." She answered, 
" I ascended the round hill of steep summits (mam cas nan 
leac), overtake me, overtake me ;" but he could not. He then 

The Two Sisters and the Curse. 99 

said, " My sickle would be the better of being sharpened (air a 
bhleath), wait for me, wait for me." She answered, " My sickle 
will not cut garlic, overtake me, overtake me." At this she 
reached the head of the furrow, finished reaping, and stood 
still where she was, waiting for him. When he reached the 
head of his own furrow, he caught the last handful of corn, 7 
to keep it, as was the custom, it being the '^Harvest Maiden " 
(a' mhaighdean-bhuana), and stood with it in one hand and the 
sickle in the other. Looking at her steadily in the face, he 

" You have put the old woman far from me, and it is not my 
displeasure you deserve." (Chuir thu a } chailleach fada uam 's 
cha F e mo ghruaim a thoill thu. ) 8 

She said, 

" It is an evil thing early on Monday to reap the harvest 
maiden." ( 7 S dona 'n ni fvar., wil-shealbhach) moch Di-luain 
dot a bhuain maighdein.) 

On her saying this, he fell dead on the field and never more 
drew breath. The Maiden of the Cairn was never afterwards 
seen, nor heard of; and that was how the sister's wishes ended. 


1. — Boats made of twigs and covered with hides, the hairy side of 
the skin being uppermost, could go long distances over rough seas. 

2. — This name is sometimes rendered in English, Margaret. Erraid 
Isle ( Eilean earraid) is in the Sound of Iona, south of Mull. 

3. — The rock of Ailsa in the firth of Clyde is called in Gaelic Creag 
Ealasaid, and Ealasaid a' chuain (Ailsa of the sea). A round grey 
rock lying near the shore in Mannal, south side of Tiree, is called 

ioo The Two Sisters and the Curse. 

Sgeir Ealasaid y the Ailsa rock. The name Ealasaid is in English 
also Elizabeth and Elspeth. 

4. — Odhar, dun or grey, is applied to cattle ; as, bb mhaol odhar, a 
dun hornless cow ; gabhar mhaol odhar, a grey goat : it is sometimes 
used as an expresssion of contempt, as creutair odhar, a dun creature. 
The diminutive of odhar, odhrag, is a pet name for a cow. 

t i7 L^bu-Jfc — Xl 16 worc * s °f tne fi rst *° ur l mes °f "the wishes," are, as regards 
their form in the Gaelic text, almost unintelligible ; they merely 
aQ represent the sounds uttered by the reciter, "without being correct 

' either in form or composition. The sounds belonging to the first line 

might, for instance, have been represented thus : — 'Na ana-ch\nnt 's 
'n a an-shocair dhuit d' iiidh : perhaps the utterance was intentionally 
ambiguous. — (Ed.) 

6. — Gruagach, the supernatural being, in this instance was said to 
be a woman ; but gruagach usually meant a chief. (See Vol. IV., 
Argyllshire series, p. 193.) 

7. — There was a custom at one time, that the last handful of corn 
that was cut, and which finished the harvest, was £aken -humtTby the 
reaper, who was usually the youngest person in the family who could 
reap. The bunch was tastefully decorated and kept, at least till the 
following year, as the harvest maiden. 

8. — It was also a custom in other times for old women to go about 
asking charity, and if infirm, they were carried about from house to 
house and villages, and whoever was last in a township to finish the 
reaping of his corn had to maintain one that year, and the same thing 
might happen to him the next year. When the run-rig system was 
common, the last furrow of corn was sometimes left standing as no 
one could be got to own it, through fear of having to keep the old 
woman for a year. 


• ^ 


_> V 



And how she thinned the Woods of Lochaber. 

When the Norsemen came, and their visits were frequent and 
numerous, to this country and these islands, to lay claim to 
and take possession of the land, the fame they gathered for 
themselves through their indulgence in every manner of cruel 
spoliation, and slaughter of the people wherever they landed, 
was that they were a bold, courageous, hardy, rough ("The 
Norsemen a rough band "), peremptory and unscrupulous race, 
and more than that, it was attributed to them that they practised 
witchcraft, charms, and enchantments, and had much of other 
unhallowed learning among them. The Norse King's eldest 
daughter was particularly noted for her knowledge of the 
" Black Art." There was no accident or mischance that befell 
friends, or destruction that overtook enemies, or any luck or 
good fortune that attended either friend or foe, but it was said 
that she was the cause of it, or had some hand in it. She was 
famed at home and abroad, far and wide, for her skill among 
cows and cattle, she was said to possess every variety of dairy 
knowledge in her father's kingdom. There was no charm or 
evil eye that fell on any living creature in the fold but she 
could dispel and avert, nor hurt nor injury they got but she 
could heal, nor dizziness nor fits into which they fell, from 
which she could not restore them, until it was said of her that 
the lowing of cattle, the incoherent cry of calves, and the rough 
cry of yearlings was to her the sweetest and most soothing 
music, and that she would answer the call of cattle, though she 
might be lost in the midst of the northern woods, and the cry 

102 Daughter of the Norse King. 

from the nethermost part of the farthest off quarter of the 
universe. She knew the herb that had the property of taking 
its qualities from milk, as well as she was acquainted with the 
spells by which its virtues could be restored, and every charm 
and invocation that was practised or then esteemed. The 
flowers of the meadows and woods were as familiar to her as 
the ridges of corn or a grain on straw, and there was not a leaf 
on tree, bush, or shrub, with whose properties she was not 
acquainted. Her father's kingdom was clothed with pine 
wood, and was then as now famous for the fine quality of the 
wood from which most of the wealth of the kingdom was 

One of those times when the Norsemen came to Scotland to 
take possession of and sub-divide the land thus taken, they 
observed that the pine wood of Lochaber was growing so fast, 
and extending so far, that in time it might supersede the Black 
Forests of Sweden. But on this occasion the northern forces 
were driven back. On reaching home they reported the matter 
to the king, and their opinion, that the increase of the wood 
must be checked, otherwise his northern woods would be of 
little esteem. 

It occurred to the King to consult his daughter on the 
matter, since she was learned, and to get knowledge from her 
of the best method of thinning and destroying the Scottish 
wood. She gave him the desired information, but said that 
she must be the bearer of the method and must necessarily go 
to Scotland herself. She obtained the King's permission and 
made preparations for the journey. 

From the gifts she possessed, neither sea nor land, air nor 
earth could hinder her progress until she accomplished her 
purpose. When she reached Lochaber the method she adopted 
was to kindle a fire in the selvage of her dress, and she then 
began to go through the woods, and as she could travel in the 
clouds as well as on the ground, when she ascended and whirled 

Daughter of the Norse King. 103 

in the air, the sparks of fire that flew from her dress were blown 
hither and thither by the wind and set the woods on fire, until 
the whole country was almost in a blaze, and so darkened by 
the smoke, that one could hardly see before them ; and, 
from being blackened more than any tree in the forest, by the 
smoke and soot of the fiery furnace which surrounded her, she 
was known and spoken of by the name of " Dark, or Pitch 
Pine." The people gathered to watch her, but from the 
rapidity of her ascent and the swiftness with which she 
descended, they could not grasp her any more than they could 
prevent her, and were at a loss what to do. At last, they 
sought instruction from a learned man in the place. He 
advised them to collect a herd of cattle in a fold, wherever she 
would stand still, and whenever she heard the lowing of the 
cattle she would descend, and when she was within gun-shot 
they were to fire at her with a silver bullet, when she would 
become a faggot of bones. They followed this advice and 
began to gather cattle and follow after her until the pinfold 
large and small was full set in the "Centre of Kintail." 
Whenever she heard the cry of the herd she descended and 
they aimed at her with the silver bullet, as the wise man told 
them to do, and she fell gently among them. Men lifted the 
remains and carried them to Lochaber, and to make sure that 
dead or alive she would do no more injury to them, they buried 
her in Achnacarry ; and the person from whom the story was 
first heard nine years ago [1880] said that he could put his foot 
on the place where she was buried. 

The Norse King was amazed at his daughter not returning, 
and at his not receiving any account from her. He sent abroad 
to get tidings of her. When the news of the disaster that 
happened to her was brought to him, he sent a boat and crew 
to bring her home, but the Lochaber women by their incanta- 
tions destroyed those whom he sent. The boat was wrecked, 
and the men lost, at the entrance to Locheil. The next ships 

104 Nighean Righ Lochlainn. 

that came were not more successful. The trurd time the King 
sent out his most powerful fleet. What they did then was to 
send and try through spells to tky-rrp the wells of the Fairy Hill 
of Iona. The virtue of these -wetts was that wind could be 
obtained from any desired quarter by emptying them, in the 
direction of the wind wished for. When the ships were seen 
approaching, the wells began to be emptied, and before the last 
handful was flung out, the storm was so violent, and the ships 
so near, that the whole fleet was driven on the beach under the 
Fairy Hill, and the power and might of the Norsemen was 
broken and so much weakened that they did not return again 
to infest the land. 



Mar thainig na Lochlannaich an toiseach, 's bu bhitheanta sin, 
air feadh nan duthchannan 's nan eileinean so, a thogail 
chbraichean 's a ghabhail sealbh air fearann, 's e an cliu a 
choisinn iad dhaibh fein, leis gu 'n robh iad ris a h-uile sebrsa 
l^ir-chreach 's milleadh air muinntir nan aiteachan a bha iad 
a' ruigheachd, gu 'n robh iad 'n an daoine dalma, misneachail, 
cruaidh-chridheach, borb. "Lochlannaich, a' bhuidheann 
bhorb," neo-easmaileach, neo-thrbcaireach 's a thuilleadh air 
sin, bha e air chur as an leth gu 'n robh buidseachd agus 
druidheachd 's iomadh eblas toirmisgte eile 'n am measg. 

Bha 'n nighean a bu sine aig Righ Lochlainn sbnraichte 

Nighean Righ Locklainn. 105 

ainmeil air son na bh' aice de 'n " Sgoil Dubh." Cha robh 
sgiorradh no tubaist a thachaireadh do chairdean, no sgrios a 
thigeadh air naimhdean, no math no rath a dh' eireadh do h-aon 
diii, nach robh e air a radhainn gur i b' aobhar-cinn dha, no 
gu 'n robh lamh thaobh-eiginn aice ann. Bha i aig an tigh 's 
uaithe fada 's farsuinn comharraichte air son sgil am measg 
cruidh 's f eudail ; 's ann aice bha gach sebrsa eblas cruidh 'an 
rioghachd a h-athar. Cha robh sian no siiil a laidheadh air 
creutair beo 's a' bhuaile nach togadh i, no tuaineal no ceangal 
's an rachadh iad nach f huasgladh i, gus an abairteadh gur e 
geumnaich cruidh, blaomannaich laogh agus racaireachd 
ghamhna an t-aon chebl cadail a bu bhinn leatha, 's gu 'm 
f reagradh i 'n uair a chluinneadh i 'n spreidh ged bhiodh i 'n a 
suain an teis-meadhon coille dhubh a h-athar 's an geum o 
cheann iochdar iomall an domhain. 

B' aithne dh' i an lus a bheireadh an toradh as a' bhainne co 
math 's a b' aithne dh' i na h-eblais a thilleadh air ais e, agus 
gach sebrsa sian agus oradh a bha air a chleachdainn no air a 
chunntas feumail 's an am. Bha gach luibh 's a' mhachair no 
's a' choille co-ionnan dh' i ri arbhar nan imirean no spilgean 
cbnlaich, 's cha robh duilleag air craoibh, no preas, no dris, 
nach b' aithne dh' i. 'S an am so bha duthaich a h-athar cbmh- 
daichte le coille ghiubhais, agus iomraideach (mar tha fhathast) 
air son co math 's a bha a fiodh, 's bha neart de bheartais na 
rioghachd 'tighinn a stigh air a tailibh. 

Uair de na h-uairean sin thainig na Lochlannaich do Albainn 
a thoirt a mach fearainn 's a dheanamh roinn na cbrach air na 
gheibheadh iad, 's thug iad fainear gu 'n robh coille ghiubhais 
Lochabair a' fas 's a' gabhail roimpe co mbr 's gu 'm faodtadh 
e 'bhi gu 'n cuireadh i stad air coille dhubh na Suain. Chaidh 
feachd Lochlannach an uair so thilleadh air ais an taobh a 
thainig iad, 's 'n uair a rainig iad dhachaidh dh' innis iad do 'n 
righ mar bha iad 'am beachd a thachradh 's gu 'm feumadh stad 
a chur air cinneas na coille Albanaich neo nach bitheadh mbran 

106 Nighean Righ Locklainn. 

meas air a' chonnadh aige-san. 'S e smuaintich an righ bho 'n 
a bha h-uile ionnsachadh aig a nighean gu 'n cuireadh e 'chomh- 
airle rithe, 's gu 'm faigheadh e fiosrachadh uaipe 'd e an dbigh 
a b' fhearr 's a bu luaithe air a' choille Albanaich a dheanamh 
na bu lugha 's a crionadh. Dh' innis i dha, ach gu 'm bitheadh 
aice fh£in ri dol ann. Fhuair i cead o 'n Righ, 's rinn i deas 
air son falbh ; 's leis na cumhachdan a bh' aice cha chuireadh 
muir no tir, talamh no adhar, stad air a ceum gus an ruigeadh 
i ceann thall a' ghnothaich. 

'N uair a rainig i Lochabair 's e 'n dbigh a ghabh i, dh' 
fhadaidh i teine 'an iomall a guin 's ghabh i gu siubhal roimh 
'n choille, 's leis gu robh comas aice falbh anns na neoil co 
math 's air an talamh, dhireadh i suas agus 'n uair bha i 'direadh 
's a' cur cuairteig anns an adhar, bha na sradagan teine a bha 
'falbh as a gun a' dol gach taobh leis a' ghaoith 's a' lasadh na 
coille gus an robh an duthaich uile gu bhi 'n a caoirean teintich 
's co duinte le deathaich 's gur gann a bu leir do dhuine lias, 's a 
chionn gu 'n robh i fhein air fas anns an deathaich 's anns an 
t-suith na bu duibhe na craobh 's a' choille, 's e "An Dubh 
Ghiubhsach " a theireadh iad rithe. 

Bha muinntir na duthcha cruinn comhla 'g a feitheamh 's cha 
chumadh iad sealladh oirre leis co ard 's a rachadh i anns na 
speuran 's co luath 's a thearnadh i gu talamh. Cha b' urrainn 
iad greim fhaighinn oirre na bu mhotha na b' urrainn iad stad 
a chur oirre, 's cha robh fios aca 'd e a dheanadh iad. Mu 
dheireadh chaidh iad air son fbghluim gu duine ionnsaichte a 
bha 's an duthaich Thuirt esan riu, buaile cruidh a chruinn- 
eachadh far an stadadh i, 's 'n uair a chluinneadh i 'n f heudail 
's a' bhuar gu 'n tearnadh i ; 's an uair a bhiodh i mar urchair 
gunna uapa iad a losgadh oirre le peileir airgid, 's gu 'n rach- 
adh i 'n a cual chnamh. Ghabh iad a chomhairle 's thbisich 
iad air togail chreach 's air ise leantuinn gus an robh a' bhuaile 
lan-suidhichte le crodh ann an Crb-Chintaile. Co luath 'sa 
chuala ise a' gheumnaich theirinn i 'sloisg iad oirre leis a' 

Nighean Righ Lochlainn. 107 

pheileir airgid mar dh' iarr an duine glic orra, 's thuit i 'n a 
cebsaich 'n am measg. Thog iad eadar dhaoine am pronnan a 
bh' aca dhi 's thug iad leo do Lochabair i, 's chum gu 'm bith- 
eadh iad cinnteach nach deanadh i cron beo no marbh dhoibh 
tuilleadh, thiodhlaic iad i ann an Achanacairidh ; 's am fear 
bho 'n deachaidh an naigheachd a chluinntinn an toiseach — 
anns a' bhliadhna 1880 — bha e 'gradhainn gu 'm b' urrainn dha 
a chas a chur air an uaigh anns an do chuireadh i. 

Bha ioghnadh air Righ Lochlainn nach robh a nighean a' 
tilleadh no sgeul uaipe. Chuir e f orfhais a mach, 's tra chualaic 
e mar thachair dhi, chuir e bata 's sgioba air son a toirt dach- 
aidh, ach dh' fhoghain mnathan Lochabair le 'n ubagan dh' i. 
Chaidh a briste 's na daoine chall, aig bun Lochiall. Cha d' j 
rainig an ath chabhlach na bu mho. 'S an treasa uair tra chuir ( ' 
an Righ mach f eachd na rioghachd 's e rinn iadsan, chuir iad 
eblas a thaomadh tobraichean Dhun-I, 's bha e 'n cois an eblais , 
rath ad ? s am bith a rachadh na tobraichean a thaomadh gu 'm 
faighteadh a' ghaoth a dh' iarrtadh. 'N uair fhuaradh sealladh 
air~a' chabhlach, thbisichear air taomadh an tobair, 's mu 'n robh 
a' bhoiseag mu dheireadh as, bha a' ghaoth co laidir 's a' chabh- 
lach co dluth 's gu 'n do bhrisdeadh iad air cladach an Diiin, 
's chaidh cumhachd 's f eachd nan Lochlannach lughdachadh co 
mbr 's nach do thill iad riamh tuilleadh a dheanamh dblais no 
a thoirt sgrios air an tir. 

1 ' ^ 



There was a smith, before now, in Ireland, who was one day 
working in the smithy, when a youth came in, having two old 
women with him. 

He said to the smith, 

" I would be obliged to you," he said, " if you would let me 
have a while at the bellows and anvil." 

The smith said he would. He then caught the two old 
women, threw a hoop about their middle, and placed them in 
the smithy fire, and blew the bellows at them, and then took 
them out and made one woman, the fairest that eye ever saw, 

TJC * L f rom tne tw0 °^ women - 

• ^ When the smith laid down at night, he said to his wife, 

'Su 24 " A man came the way of the smithy to-day, having with him 

two old women ; he asked from me a while of the bellows 
and anvil, and he made the fairest woman that man's eye ever 
saw, out of the two old women. My own mother and your 
mother are here with us, and I think I will try to make one 
right woman of the two since I saw the other man doing it." 
"Do," she said, "I am quite willing." 

Next day he took out the two old women, put the hoop about 
their middle, and threw them in the smithy fire. It was not 
long before it became likely that he would not have even the 
bones of them left. The smith was in extremity, not knowing 
what to do, but a voice came behind him, 

"You are perplexed, smith, but perhaps I will put you right." 
With that he caught the bellows and blew harder at them ; he 
then took them out and put them on the anvil, and made as 

How (J Neil's Hair was made to grow. 109 

fair a woman out of the two old wives. Then he said to the 

"You had need of me to-day, but," said he, "you better 
engage me ; I will not ask from you but the half of what I 
earn, and that this will be in the agreement, that I shall have the 
third of my own will." The smith engaged him. 

At this time O'Neil sent abroad word that he wanted one 
who would make the hair of his head to grow, for there was 
none on the head of O'Neil or O'Donnell, his brother, and that 
whoever could do it, would get the fourth part of his means. 
The servant lad said to the smith, 

" We had better go and make a bargain with O'Neil that we 
will put hair on his head," and they did this. " Say you to 
him," said the servant lad, "that you have a servant who will 
put hair on his head for the fourth part of what he possesses." 

O'Neil was agreeable to this, and the servant lad desired to 
get a room for themselves, and asked a cauldron to be put on 
a good fire. It was done as he wished. O'Neil was taken in 
and stretched on a table. The servant lad then took hold of 
the axe, threw off O'NeiFs head, and put it face foremost in the 
cauldron. After some time he took hold of a large prong which he 
had, and he lifted up the head with it, and hair was beginning 
to come upon it. In a while he lifted it up again with the 
same prong, this time a ply of the fine yellow hair would go 
round his hand. Then he gave the head such a lift, and stuck 
it on the body. O'Neil then called out to him to make haste 
and let him rise to his feet, when he saw the fine yellow hair 
coming in into his eyes. He did as he had promised ; he gave 
the smith and the servant lad the fourth part of his possessions. 
When they were going home with the cattle the servant lad said 
to the smith, 

"We are now going to separate, we will make two halves or 
divisions of the cattle." 

The smith was not willing to agree to this, but since it was in 

no How O'Neifs Hair was made to grow. 

his bargain he got the one half. They then parted, and the 
animal the smith would not lose now, he would lose again, he 
did not know where he was going before he reached home, and 
he had only one old cow that he did not lose of the cattle. 

When O'Donnell saw his brother's hair, he sent out word 
that he would give the third part of his property to any one 
who would do the same to himself. The smith thought he 
would try to do it this time alone. He went where O'Donnell 
was, and said to him that he would put hair on his head for 
him also, as he had done to his brother O'Neil. Then he asked 
that the cauldron be put on, and a good fire below it, and he 
took O'Donnell into a room, tied him on a table, then took up 
an axe, cut off his head, and threw it, face downwards, into the 
cauldron. In a while he took the prong to see if the hair was 
growing, but instead of the hair growing, the jaws were nearly 
falling out. The smith was almost out of his senses, not 
knowing what to do, when he heard a voice behind him saying 
to him, " You are in a strait." This was the lad with the Black 
Art, he formerly had, returned. He blew at the cauldron 
stronger, brought the prong to see how the head was doing, or 
if the hair was growing on it. The next time he tried it, it 
would twine round his hand. Since it was so long of growing 
on it, he said, "We will put an additional fold round my hand." 
When he tried it again it would reach two twists. He took it 
out of the cauldron and stuck it on the body. It cried to be 
quickly let go, when he saw his yellow hair down on his 
shoulders. The hair pleased him greatly ; it was more abun- 
dant than that of O'Neil, his brother. They got fully what was 
promised them, and were going on their way home. The lad 
who had the Black Art said, " Had we not better divide the 

"We will not, we will not," said the smith, "lift them with 
you, since I got clear." 

" Well," said the other, " if you had said that before, you 

O 'Neil, 's mar a chaidh am Fait air. 1 1 1 

would not have gone home empty-handed, or with only one 
cow," and with that he said, "You will take every one of them: 
I will take none of them." 

The smith went home with that herd, and he did not require 
to strike a blow in his smithy, neither did he meet with the one 
with the Black Art, ever after. 



Gobhainn bh' ann roimhe so ann an Eirinn, 's bha e latha de 
na laithean ag obair anns a' cheardaich agus thainig oganach 
stigh 's da sheana-bhoirionnach aige. Thuirt e ris a' ghobhainn, 
"Bhithinn ann ad ehomain," ars' esan, "na'n toireadh tu 
dhomh tacan de 'n bholg 's de 'n innean." Thuirt an gobhainn 
ris gu 'n tugadh. Rug e an sin air an da chaillich, chaith e 
cearcall mu 'm meadhon, 's chairich e 's an teallach iad, 's sh£id 
e am bolg riu ; thug e 'n sin mach iad 's rinn e aon bhoirionn- 
ach a bu bhreadha 's a chunnaic suil duine de 'n da chaillich. 
'N uair a luidh an gobhainn 's an oidhche, thuirt e ris a mhnaoi, 
" Thainig fear rathad na ceardaich an diugh 's da chaillich aige, 
's dh' iarr e orm treis de 'n bholg 's de 'n innean, 's rinn e 'm 
boirionnach a bu bhriadha a chunnaic suil duine riamh air an 

O' Neil, x s mar a chaidh am Fait air. 112 

da chaillich. Tha mo mhathair fhdin 's do mhathair fh&n 
againn ann an so, 's tha mi 'smaointeachadh gu 'm feuch mi ri 
aon bhoirionnach ceart a dheanamh orra bho 'n a chunnaic mi 
am fear eile 'g a dheanamh." 

" Dean," ars' ise, "tha mi lan-toileach." 

Am maireach thug e mach an da chaillich 's chuir e 'n cearcall 
mu 'm meadhon, 's thilg e 's an teallach iad. Cha b' fhada ach 
gus an robh coltach nach bitheadh na cnaimhean fh&n aige 
dhiubh. Bha an gobhainn 'n a chas gun fhios aige 'd£ dhean- 
adh e, ach thainig guth air a chulthaobh, " Tha thu ann ad 
&ginn, a ghobhainn, ach ma dh' fhaoidte gu 'n cuir mise ceart 
thu." Rug e air a' bholg 's th£id e na 's teinne riu ; thug e 
mach iad a sin 's chuir e air an innean iad, 's rinn e boirionnach 
a bu bhriadha de 'n da chaillich. Thuirt e sin ris a' ghobhainn, 
" Bha feum agad ormsa an diugh, ach," ars' esan, "'s ann a's 
fearr dhuit mise fhasdadh, 's cha 'n iarr mi ort ach darna leth 
de na bheir mi a mach ; ach gu 'm bi so anns a' chumhnant, 
gu 'm bi an treas trian de m' thoil fhdin agam." Dh' fhasdaidh 
an gobhainn e. 

Aig an am sin chuir O' Neil mach fios na 'm faigheadh e fear 
a chuireadh fait air, chionn cha robh fait idir air O' Neil na 
air O' Domhnull a bhrathair, gu 'n toireadh e dhoibh a' cheath- 
ramh chuid d' a mhaoin ; 's thuirt an gille ris a' ghobhainn, 
U, S fhearr dhuinne falbh 's bargan a dheanamh ri O' Neil gu'n 
cuir sinn fait air f 's rinn iad mar sin. " Abair thusa ris," 
thuirt an gille ris a' ghobhainn, "gu bheil gille agadsa a chuir- 
eas fait air, air son a' cheathramh chuid d' a mhaoin." 

Bha O' Neil debnach air a shon so, agus dh' iarr an gille 
sebmar f haotainn dhoibh f h&n, 's dh' iarr e coire a chur air, 's 
teine math ris. Rinneadh mar a dh' iarr e, 's chaidh O' Neil a 
thoirt stigh, 's chuir e'na shineadh air bbrd e, 's rug e air an 
tuaidh 's thilg e dheth an ceann, 's chuir e 'n comhair na goille 
anns a' choire e. 'An ceann tacain rug e air gramaiche mbr a 
bh' aige 's thog e suas an ceann leis, 's bha toiseach fuilt a' tigh- 

ONeil, 's mar a chaidh am Fait air. 113 

inn air. Ann an ceann treis thog e suas a rithist e leis a' ghram- 
aiche cheudna, agus an uair so ruigeadh car m' a dhbrn de 'n 
fhalt bhriadha bhuidhe. Thug e sin an togail lid air, 's bhuail 
e air a' choluinn e. Ghlaodh sin O' Neil greasad air 's a leigeil 
air a chois, 'n uair a chunnaic e 'm fait briadha buidhe a' tigh- 
inn 'n a shiiilean. Rinn e riu mar a gheall e ; f huair iad a 
cheathramh chuid d' a mhaoin. 

'N uair bha iad so 'dol dachaidh 's an spr&dh aca, thuirt an 
gille ris a' ghobhainn, " Tha mi nis 'dol a dhealachadh ribh, 
's ni sinn da leth air an spr&dh." Cha robh an gobhainn toil- 
each air so a thoirt dha, ach bho 'n a bha e 'na chiimhnant 
f huair e 'n darna leth. Dhealaich iad so, agus am beothach 
nach cailleadh an gobhainn an drasd' shiubhladh e rithist, 's cha 
robh f hios aige c' aite an robh e a' dol, 's mu 'n d' rainig e 'n 
tigh cha robh aige ach seann mhart nach do chaill e de 'n 

'N uair a chunnaic O' Domhnull am fait a bh' air a bhrathair, 
chuir e mach fios gu 'n toireadh e 'n treas cuid d' a mhaoin 
seachad do aon 's am bith a chuireadh air fh&n e. Smaointich 
an gobhainn gu 'm feuchadh e-fhein g' a dheanamh an drasda 
gun duine ach e-fh&n. Chaidh e far an robh O'Domhnull 's 
thuirt e ris gu 'n cuireadh e air-san e mar an ceudna, 's gur e 
a chuir air a bhrathair, O'Neil, e, 's dh' iarr e 'n coire 'chur air 
's teine math ris. Thug e O' Domhnull stigh do sheomar 's 
cheangail e air bord e, 's rug e air an tuaidh, 's thug e dheth an 
ceann 's thilg e 'an comhair na goille e anns a' choire. 'An 
ceann treis rug e air a' ghramaiche dh' fheuchainn an robh fait 
a' cinntinn, ach 'an aite fait a bhi 'cinntinn 's ann a bha na 
giallan 'tuiteam as. Bha an gobhainn 'an impis dol as a chiall, 
gun f hios aige 'de* dheanadh e, 'n uair a chualaig e guth air a 
chulthaobh ag radhainn ris, "Tha thu ann ad £iginn." Bha so 
gille na sgoil-duibhe, a bh'aige fh&n roimhe, air tilleadh. 
Sh&d e ris a' choire na bu teodha, 's thug e sin nuas leis an 
gramaiche a shealltainn ciamar a bha an ceann a' deanamh, 's 


H4 (yNeil, 's mar a chaidh am Fait air. 

bha am fait a' cinntinn. An ath-uair a dh' fheuch e e, ruigeadh 
car mu 'dhbrn dheth. "Bho 'n a bha e co fada gun chinntinn," 
ars' esan, " cuiridh sinn car a bharrachd mu 'm dhbrn f 
's 'n uair a dh' fheuch e rithist e, ruigeadh e 'n da char. Thog 
e as a' choire e, 's bhuail e air a' choluinn e ; 's ghlaodh e 
'ghrad-fhuasgladh, 's e 'faicinn 'fhalt buidhe sios air a ghualainn. 
Chord am fait ris fior mhaith, bha barrachd fuilt air 's a bh' 
air O' Neil a bhrathair. Fhuair iadsan 'cheart ni a chaidh 
ghealltainn doibh, 's bha iad 'dol dachaidh air an rathad. 
Thuirt gille na sgoil-duibhe, " Nach fhearr dhuinn ar treud a 
roinn?" "Cha roinn, cha roinn," ars' an gobhainn, "tog leat 
iad, bho 'n a fhuair mise saor." "Ma ta," ars' esan, "na'n 
dubhairt thu sin roimhe cha deachaidh thu dhachaidh falamh 
no air aon mhart ; agus leis a sin," ars' esan, " bheir thu leat 
h-uile h-aon diubh, cha ghabh mise gin diubh." 

Chaidh an gobhainn dachaidh leis an spr&dh sin, 's cha do 
ruig e leas buille a bhualadh 'an ceardaich tuille, ni mb a thach- 
air e-fh&n air fear na sgoil-duibhe tuille. 



This story, like many others in which the lower animals figure 
as characters, is very popular in the Highlands, in fact, Mr. 
Campbell of Islay, by whom it is mentioned, could not help 
falling in with it. But the version published by him is destitute 
of several interesting incidents which form a part of the 
story. The narration depends always upon the knowledge and 
skill of the person who tells it, and this edition is given because 
there is to be found in it incidents of much interest and amuse- 
ment, not to be found in any other version, such as the Fox's 
oath and standing in front of the fire. The Gaelic is not given 
except in the essential expressions, and it is not deemed of 
much consequence to give more, as their fluency and number 
depend upon the reciter's knowledge and tact. In these fables 
the lower animals appear with the same characteristics as are 
always assigned to them, and in this tale the fox appears as 
not only wily and cunning, but also as the most unprincipled 
scoundrel, indifferent to the interests of others, and also to 
what is usually of weight with men, the restraint of an nnseen 

The Fox and Wolf were keeping house together near the 
shore, and as might naturally be expected, were very poor and 
at times hard up for food. At first the fox kept himself in 
good condition, and was not so voracious as the wolf. After 
a heavy storm in winter time the two went along the shore 
to see what the sea had cast up. This is still done by poor 
people in the islands, and in those places where wood does not 
grow. They are often fortunate enough to find logs and planks 
of wood. On the occasion of the wolf and the fox's journey 

n6 The Wolf and the Fox. 

they were fortunate enough to find a keg of butter. Probably 
it had come from Ireland and been swept or thrown overboard 
in the storm. It was particularly welcome to the poor finders, 
and the rascally fox at once coveted it for himself. He said 
to the wolf that, as this was the winter time, they had not so 
much need of it, but when the hungry summer (samhradk 
gortach) would come, it would be doubly welcome ; they had 
better bury it, and no one would know of its existence but 
themselves. They dug a deep hole, buried the keg of butter, 
and went home with their other provisions. Some days after 
that the fox came in, and wearily throwing himself on a settle, 
or seat, which formed part of the furniture, he heaved a deep 
sigh and said, "Alas! Alas! Wofc^isN me (Och! Ochl fhein 

"Alas ! Alas !" said the sympathising wolf, " what is it that 
troubles you ?" 

" Dear me," said the fox, " they are wanting me out to a 
christening (Och ! Och I tha tad 'gam iarraidh mach gu goist- 
eachd)" still pretending a weary indifference, and the Gaelic 
expression is here noticeable, as, being asked out to a baptism 
means literally being asked to be god-father, or gossip at the 
baptism, a practise observed in the Highlands, even where the 
Roman Catholic and Episcopal systems have disappeared. 

"Alas ! Alas !" said the wolf, "are you going?" 

"Alas! Alas!" said the fox, "I am." When he came 
home, the wolf asked what name they had given the child. 
"A queer enough name," said the fox, " Blaiseam" ( let me 

Some days after that again the same manoeuvre was gone 
through, and when the fox returned and the wolf asked him 
the child's name, he said it was as queer a name as the former 
one, — " Bi 'na mheadhon" (be in its middle). A third time 
the manoeuvre was gone through and the child's name was said 
to be the queerest of all, "Sgrlob an clar" (scrape the stave). 

The Wolf and the Fox. 117 

At last the " hungry summer " came ; and it was such as is 
well known even in eastern countries when the stores of the 
preceding harvest are exhausted, and the stores of the year's 
harvest are not yet ready. The fox and the wolf went for the 
keg of butter, but it had disappeared. The fox being prepared 
for this emergency began at once to accuse the wolf of having 
taken it, " No one knew it was therenut our two selves, and I 
see the colour of it on your fur." 

The two went away home, the wolf very much cast down, 
and the fox persisting in his accusation that the wolf had stolen 
it- The wolf solemnly protested that he had never touched it. 

" Will you swear then ?" the fox said. ,y I 

According to a Highland proverb, protestations may be loud ' 
till they are solemn oaths ('S morfacalgu liighadh). The wolf 
then held up its paw, and with great solemnity emitted this 
oath, "If it be that I stole the butter, and it be, and it be, 
may disease lie heavy on my grey belly in the dust, in the dust," 
(Ma 's mise ghoid an t-hn, 's gur mi, *s gur mi, Galar trom-ghlas 
air mo bhronnghlas anns an uir, anns an uir). 

" Swear now yourself," but the fox was so impressed by the 
dignity and reverence of the oath, that he tried every means in 
his power to evade so solemn an ordeal ; but the wolf would 
take no refusal, and at last the fox emitted this oath, " If it be 
I that stole the butter, aud it be, and it be, Whirm, Wheeckam, 
Whirram, Why cam Whirrim Whew, Whirrim Whew," (Ma's 
mise 'ghoid an t-im 's gur a mi, f s gur a mi, ciream, ciceam ciream 
cuaigeam, ciream ciu, ciream ciu). The student of language will 
observe how the Gaelic C corresponds to the English Wh. This 
is particularly noticeable *here as the difference renders the 
oath as ludicrous in the translation as in the original, if not more 
so. The wolf said nothing, but the fox, with that persistence 
which often accompanies evil-doing, suggested that they should 
both stand in front of the fire and whoever began to sweat first 
would be the guilty party, as the butter would be oozing out 


tic l<\ 

118 Z 1 ^ Wolf and the Fox. 

through him. The wolf thinking no evil, consented, and the 
fox thought he would get him to stand nearer to the fire than 
himself. It so turned out however, that the fox, who had kept 
himself in good condition by repeated visits to the keg of butter, 
(and they must have been more frequent than the baptisms to 
which he said he had been called), was getting uncomfortably 
warm, and said, " We are long enough at this work, we had 
better go out and take a walk." When out thus cooling them- 
selves, they passed a smithy door, at which an old white horse 
was standing with the point of its hind shoe resting on the 
ground. The wolf having gone over to it, but at a safe distance, 
and looking intently at the door, said to the fox, " I wish, as 
your eyesight is better than mine and you can read better than 
I can, that you would come over and read the name written on 
the horse shoe. 

The fox came over but could see no writing on the shoe, but 
flattered by the wolf's words, and not liking to confess that his 
eyesight was failing, it went closer and the horse lifting its foot 
knocked its brains out. 

"I see," said the wolf, "the greatest scholars are not always 
the wisest clerks," (Cha 'n i an ro-sgoilearachd a 's fhearr. — 
Lit. — Excessive scholarship is not always the best. 


In the foregoing the fox appears true to his character as an 
unscrupulous, grasping, wily wretch, and in the following he 
appears as over reached by a bird. Considering the character 
the fox bears, one is glad when he is paid back in his own coin. 
The bird in the tale is by some rendered Kestrel Hawk, and 
by others Hen Harrier. The story was heard in Tiree, in which 
are no trees on which the bird could sit, and no hawks or foxes 
to make the story applicable. The lesson which the fable inv. QS 
plies is one that is useful everywhere. 

A Deargan-allt, Eun Fionn, was dosing by a river side, when 
a Fox came and caught it, and was going to devour it. " Oh 
don't, don't," said the bird, " and I will lay an egg as big as 
your head." 

He protested this so loudly, and so solemnly, that the fox 
loosened his hold till the bird at last flew up into a tree. Here 
sitting on a branch, and safe from further injury, it said to the 
fox, " I will not lay an egg as big as your head, for I cannot do 
it, but I will give you three pieces of advice, and if you will 
observe them, they will do you more good in the future. One, 
first, "Never believe an unlikely story from unreliable authority 
(Na creid naigheachd mi-choltach £o urrainn mi-dhealbhach). 
Secondly, " Never make a great fuss about a small matter (Na 
dean dearmqil mhbr mu rud beag), and thirdly" — here the bird 
seemed to take time, and the fox having his curiosity now 
excited listened, though it was with firmly clasped teeth and 
pangs of hunger — " Whatever you get a hold of, take a firm 
hold of it " (Rud air an dean thu greim, dean greim gu ro-mhath 
air), saying this, the bird flew away, and the fox, thus neatly 
sold, was left lamenting. 


In the Fables relating to animals the fox readily takes a lead, 
and is characterised as an unscrupulous and unprincipled rascal. 
Next to him the wren, which is the smallest (or at least has the 
name of being so) of British birds figures, and has got the name 
not only of being small, but also of being forward and pert. 
The first or most prominent of these fables is that in which the 
wren appears as contesting with the eagle the supremacy among 
birds, and this story may be said to be as widely extended over 
the Highlands as the birds themselves. There was to be a 
contest which bird should fly highest, and the wren jumped 
upon the eagle's back. When the eagle had soared as high as 
it could, it said, " Where are you now, brown wren ?" (C aite 
bheil tint, dhreathan donn ?). The wren jumped up a little higher 
and said, " Far, far, above you " (Fada fada fos do chionn). 
In consequence of this extraordinary feat the wren has twelve 
eggs while the eagle has only two. 

Natural historians assert that the number of wren's eggs in 
one nest seldom exceed eight, but others have stated that the 
most number is twelve or even fourteen. In these tales which 
have been got together in the West Highlands, the number is 
uniformly said to be twelve, but whether this is actually the 
case or merely an assumption, there is no call here for enquiring. 

The wren and his twelve sons were threshing corn in a barn, 
when a fox entered and claimed one of the workers for his 
prize. It was agreed, since he must get some one, that it should 
be the old wren, if he himself could point him out from the 
rest. The thirteen wrens were so much alike that the fox was 
puzzled. At last he said, " It is easy to distinguish the stroke 
of the old hero himself " ('S fhurasda buille an t-sean laoich 
aithneachadh). On hearing this, the old wren gave himself a 

The Wren. 121 

jauntier air, and said, " there was a day when such was the case" 
(Bha latha dha sin). After this the fox had no difficulty, for 
boasting was always illfated (bha tubaist air a' bhbsd riamh) 
and he took his victim without any dispute. 

On another occasion the wren and his twelve sons were 
going to the peatmoss, when they fell in with a plant of great 
virtue and high esteem. The old wren caught hold of the 
plant by the ears, and was jerking it this way and that way, 
hard-binding it, and pulling it, as if peat-slicing ; white was his 
face and red his cheek, but he failed to pull the plant from the 
bare surface of the earth : the plant of virtues and blessings — 
(Bha e } ga dhudadh null 's 'ga dhudadh nail, 'ga chruaidh- 
cheangal 's 'ga bhuain-nibine ; bu gheal a shnuadh 's bu dhearg 
a ghruaidh, 's cha tugadh e Meacain chraicionn loma na 
talmhain ; Meacan nam buadh 's nam beannachd). 

The wren called for the assistance of one of his sons, saying, 
"Over here one of my sons to help me" (An so aon eallach 
mo mhac nail), and they caught the plant in the same way, 
jerking it this way and that way, hard-binding and peat-slicing 
with it ; white were their faces and red their cheeks, but they 
could not with all their ardour, and their utmost strength pull 
the plant from the bare surface of the earth: the plant of 
virtues and blessings ('S bha iad 'ga dhudadh null 's 'ga dhudadh 
nail, 'ga chruaidh-cheangal 's 'ga bhuain-mbine ; bu gheal an 
snuadh 's bu dearg an gruaidh ach le 'n uile dhichioll 's le 'n 
cruaidh-neart cha tugadh iad am Meacan o chraicionn loma na 
talmhain : Meacan nam buadh 's nam beannachd). 

" Over here with two of my sons to help me " (An so da 
eallach mo mhac nail), and the same operation was again per- 
formed unsuccessfully, and in the same way one after another, 
until the whole twelve sons came to the assistance of the old 
wren. Then they grasped it altogether, and under the severe 
strain the plant at last yielded, and all the wrens fell backwards 
into a peat pond and were drowned. 

122 The Wren 

The old man from whom this story was heard said, that in 
winter time, when knitting straw ropes for thatching, he could 
get all the boys of the village to come to assist him, and keep 
him company, and this they did with cheerfulness on the 
understanding that the story of "The wren and his twelve 
sons " would be illustrated at the end. One after another of 
the boys sat on the floor behind him, and he having a hold of 
the straw rope was able easily to resist the strain till he choose 
to let go, then all the boys fell back and the laughter that 
ensured was ample reward for their labour. 

The fame of the wren for its forwardness and impudence is 
also illustrated by a story current in the south of Scotland, 
about Robin Redbreast having fallen sick, and the wren paying 
him a visit, and expressing great condolence when, after making 
his will, Robin dismissed her, saying, " Gae pack oot at my 
chamber door, ye cuttie quean." In Gaelic the wren is also 
known by the name of^Drebl/an, and Dreathan-donn, and the 
the name as applied to human beings means a weakly, imbecile, 
trifling person, in whatever he takes in hand to do. 

All the other birds in the same manner have their own share 
of actions ascribed to them, and the manner in which several 
of them made a brag of their own young is amusing — particu- 
larly in Gaelic, in which the call ascribed to them is more 
capable of imitation, and particularly in the light of the manner 
in which the young of those who make the boast are looked 

" Gleeful, gleeful," said the Gull, " my young is the supreme 

" Sorry, sorry," said the Hooded Crow, " but my son is the 
little Blue Chick." 

" Croak, croak," said the Raven, " it is my son that can pick 
the lambs." 

"Click, click," said the Eagle, "it is my son that is lord over 

The Two Deer, 123 

(" Gfttheag, glitheag" ors an Fhaoilean^ " f se mo mhac-sa an 
Daogheal Donn" 

" Gurra, gurra" thuirt an Fheannag, l() se mo mo mhac-sa an 
Garrach Gorm." 

" Gnog, gnog" ors am Fttheach, H1 s e mo mhac-sa 'chriomas na 

" Glig, gZig" thuirt an lolaire, " *s e mo mhac-sa *s tighearna 

In the Highlands the young gull is called Sgliurach which is 
the regular name for a slatternly young woman. It is seen 
in the midst of a storm alighting in the hollows, and restfully 
gliding to the highest summits of the waves. 

The hooded crow's fancy for its own young has passed into 
a proverb, " The hooded crow thinks its own impertinent blue 
progeny pretty " ('S boidheach his an fheannaig a garrach 
gorm fhein" ). 

Of the Raven it is commonly said, that it is so fond of its 
victim's eyes that it will not even give them to its own young. Its 
supernatural knowledge of where carrion is to be found amounts 
almost to instinct, and is among the vices (Dubhailcean) as- 
cribed to the bard. 

The eagle can only fly from an elevated situation, from the 
difficulty of getting wind under its wings, and in this respect 
forms a great contrast to the little wren. 

Of other tales in which the lower animals figure, the three 
following are noticeable. 

I. — The Two Deer. The young, confident of its own 
speed and strength, remarked : — 

" Sleek and yellow is my skin, 
And no beast ever planted foot 
On hillside that could catch me." 

The old deer, who knew better, answered, 

" The young dog black-mouthed 
And yellow : the first dog 

124 Tke Two Horses and the Two Dogs, 

Of the first litter. Born in March, 
And fed on quern meal and goat's milk, 
There never planted foot on hillside 
Beast it could not catch." 

(Sleamhuinn 's buidhe mo bhian, 
'S cha do chuir e eang air sliabh 
Beathach riamh 'bheireadh orm." 

"An cuilean bus-dubh buidhe, 

Ceud chu na saighe 

Rugadh anns a' Mhart 

'S a bheathaichte air gairbhean 

'S air bainne ghabhair 

Cha do chuir e eang air sliabh 

Beathach riamh nach beireadh e air). 

Regarding this description of the deer-hound it deserves 
notice that the word Mart, translated March, denotes any busy 
time of the year, there being a mart, or busy season in harvest 
as well as in spring, Mart Fogharaidh as well as in Mart 
Earraich, and that in the islands meal made with the Quern 
(Brathuin), and from brown oats, which are the kind of oats 
most common in these islands, is stronger and more nourishing 
food than common meal. The merits of goat's milk are well 
known. This description of the best kind of deer-hound is 
striking, and was taken down from a reciter in Skye. 

II. — The Two Horses. Two horses were standing side by 
side, ready yoked and ready to commence ploughing, when the 
youngest, who was but newly broken, and a stranger to field 
work, said, "We will plough this ridge and then that other 
ridge and after that the next one, and once we have commenced 
we will do every ridge in sight, and once we have fairly 
commenced we will not be long in doing the whole field." The 
old horse, who had experience of the work, said, " We will 
plough this furrow itself first." 

III. — The Two Dogs. There was a big, sleek, honest- 
looking dog, and a little yelping cur of "low degree" was 
always annoying him, and barking at him. One day he caught 

The Two Dogs. 125 

the little cur, and gave him a squeeze and sent it off yelping. 
When the cur recovered itself it said, " I will not hurt you or 
touch you, but I will raise an ill report (droch-alla) about you." 
In pursuance of his threat the cur went among his acquaint- 
ances, and such as he himself was. There are many dogs to be 
found in every town. 

" Both mongrel puppy whelp and hound 
And curs of low degree." 

and to such the cur related how the big dog for all his smooth 
appearance and apparent good nature was in reality a cruel, 
deceitful dog and under all his apparent or seeming good 
manners, he was ready to fall upon those weaker than himself, 
whether they gave him cause or not, and if he could do it 
without being observed give them a bad shaking. He was a 
dangerous dog and ought to be watched and no wise dog should 
put himself in his way. 

This calumny made its way, found many believers and at 
last produced its natural fruit. The big honest dog found his 
company avoided and every body looking upon him with 

At first the depression, and gloom which haunted him dis- 
appeared under a hearty run, and the patting of its master, but 
it preyed so much on him that he came to avoid society, and 
to be apparently indifferent to any company, This happens in 
the experiences of life, and that causeless and evil reports are 
most dangerous in their consequences, Some time afterwards 
the cur was similarly dealt with by another cur, who like him- 
self had not very high principles. 

A Gaelic Nursery Rhyme. 

The Mouse said from her hiding place, 

" What are you about, Grey Cat ?" 
" Friendship, fellowship and love : 

You may come out ! " 
" Well I know the hooked claw 

That is fastened in the sole of your feet 
You killed my sister yesterday, 

And with difficulty I myself escaped, 
You thieving cat, son of the grim grey one, 

Where were you yesterday when from home?" 
" I went away on my left hand 

To hunt for mince-meat in an evil hour ; 

I was noticed by the goodman of the house, 

My eye being shut and my cheek full ; 
He tightened my throat very hard, 

And called out to bring him the cheese-knife, 
He cut off one of my ears 

And the red root of the ear to the bone." 

Thuirt an Luchag, 's i 's an fhrbig, 
'"De" th' air t' aire, a Chait Ghlais?" 

II Cairdeas 's comunn 's gaol : 

Feudaidh tusa tighinn a mach." 
" Is eblach mi air an dubhan chrom 

'Tha 'n sas ann am bonn do chas ! 
Mharbh thu mo phiuthar an de\ 

'S ann air diginn 'fhuair mi-fh&n as. 
A chaoitein, mhic Ghrimeich Ghlais, 

The Cat and the Mouse. 127 

C ait an robh thu 'n raoir air chuairt ?" 
" Dh' f halbh mi air mo laimh-chli 

'Shealg nan isbean 's an droch uair ; 
Mhothaich fear-an-tighe dhomh, 

Mo shuil druidte 's mo phluic Ian ; 
Theannaich e m' amhach gu cruaidh, 

'S ghlaodh e nuas air core a' chais, 
Thug e dhiom-sa an leth-chluas 

'S am faillein ruadh gu ruig an cnaimh." 


The foregoing rhyme is here given as being a more complete 
version than that to be found in vol. II. p. 389 (new edition p. 404) of 
"Popular Tales of the West Highlands" by the late J. F. Campbell, 
of Islay. 



In the Highlands of Scotland, as in every other place where 
there are children, youthful plays and amusements had their 
sway, and it is worthy of attention how these amusements were 
eminently calculated to develop and strengthen mind and 
muscular strength in the young. The various amusements of 
Riddles, and the many forms of indoor or house games are too 
numerous to describe, and in many instances not worth while 
dwelling upon. These games particularly called out the power 
of close attention and of ready speech, and were as often played 
out of doors as indoors, according to weather. 

Wrestling Matches. 

When the youth of a village met at a ceilidh^ or indoor 
gathering, and a wrestling match was resolved upon, one of 
them was appointed a king or master of the ceremonies, and the 
company was bound to be obedient to him in everything. In 
the following game a stout and likely lad was fixed upon to 
come in, in the character of a "Desert Glede" (Croman Fasaich). 
When he came in, the following speech occurred : addressing 
the king, he said : — 


" Leigeadh da, leigeadh da, Dia," 

" Co as a thainig thu, a Chromain Fhasaich, no 'de an drasda 
thug so thu ?" 


" Thainig mi a m' fhonn 's a m' fhearann, 's a m' fhasach 

Boys Games. 129 


" 'De chuir fearann *s fonn 's fasach agadsa 's mise gun 
fhonn gun fhearann gun fhasach."? 

" Mo chruas, 's mo luathas, 's mo laidireachd fhein." 

" Tha bganach geur donn agamsa a leagadh tu, 's a bhreab- 
adh tu, 's a bheireadh sia deug dh' iallan do dhroma asad, agus 
iall g' ad cheangal ; 's a mhi-mhodhaicheadh do bhean ann an 
clais na h-inne 's tu f h£in ceangailte. 

" Cuir a mach so e ma ta." 

Kite, or Glede. 
"Permit, permit, O Deity." 

" Where have you come from, Kite of the Desert, and what 
has now brought you here?" 

" I come from my own land and soil and desert." 

"How have you land and soil and desert, when I have 
neither land nor soil nor desert ? " 

" My own hardiness and swiftness and strength." 

" I have a smart brown-haired youth, who can throw you 
down, and kick you, and take sixteen thongs out of your back, 
and a thong to tie you with, and who can throw your wife into 
the byre gutter while you yourself are tied." 

" Send him out here then " 
The wrestling then began, and the one who proved victor 

130 Boys Games. 

became "Desert Glede" for the next encounter, until the 
whole were run over. 

The words were sometimes used in the following form : — 

Righ.— " Dida-a-didacha-disa, a Chromain Fhasaich, co as 
drasda a choisich thu ?" 

Croman. — "Feuch 'bheil giomanach donn agad a chumas 

Righ — "Tha agamsa giomanach donn a chumas riut 'sa 
dheanadh loth pheallagach dhiot aig dorus an tighe, etc." 

King. — " Deeda-a-deedacha-deesa, Desert Glede, whence 
have you walked from now?" 

Kite. — "Try whether you have a brown-haired youth to 
match me." 

King. — " I have a brown-haired youth that will match you 
and make a matted colt of you at the door of the house, etc." 

Another game popular on these occasions was one of forfeits, 
known as the "Parson's mare has gone amissing," (Lair a? 
pharsonaich air chall). Every boy and girl in the company 
has a false name, given for the occasion, such as " Old Cow's 
Tail" (Earball Seana Mhairt); "Rooster on the House-top" 
(Coileach air Tig/i), etc. The king, or overseer, commencing 
the game says, 

" The parson's mare has gone amissing, 

And it is a great shame that it should be so ; 

Try who stole her." 

Lair a' pharsonaich air chall, 

'S mbr an naire dh' i bhi ann ; 

Feuch cb ghoid i. 
Looking round the circle, he fixes upon some one, and 
mentions him by the assumed name. He fixes, for instance, 
on the one to whom the name of "Old Cow's Tail" was given, 

Boys Games. 1$! 

and the person mentioned or denoted was bound at once to 
answer, saying 

" It 's a lie from you " 

('S breugach dhuit e) 
to which the answer is, 

"Who then is it?" 

(Feuch co eile e ?). 
The person accused at once passes it on by mentioning some 
one else, such as the " Rooster on the House top," and the 
same query and answer, " Who then is it ?", etc., is passed on. 
The first one who fails in giving a ready reply has to submit to 
give a forfeit which the ruler keeps in security till all have been 
exacted ; then some one bends down and rests his head upon 
the king's knee, when the forfeits are held upon his head and 
he is made to award the punishment of redeeming them. He 
does not see whose forfeit it is, and the penalty imposed is 
sometimes very ludicrous and impossible. One, for instance, 
has to sit on the fire till his stomach boils (Suidhe air an teine 
gus am bi a ghoile air ghoil) ; another is to go out to the hillock 
in front of the village and bawl out three times, 

" This is the one who did the mischief 
And who will do it to-night yet." 

('S mise an duine a rinn an t-olc 
'S ni mi 'n nochd fhathast e). 

This game requires great readiness and retentiveness of mind. 
The attention being kept continually on the strain in case one's 
own assumed name be called out, and a readiness to pass the 
accusation on to another. 

The game of " Hide and Seek " was practised in the High- 
lands in many forms. Probably the earliest and simplest is 
that of young children playing round their mother, while she 
was engaged in baking bread. It was the custom in olden 
times to gather the meal or remains of dough left over after 

132 Boys Games. 

the oatcakes of bread were made, and duly work it into a cake 
by itself, called the Bonnach Beag, or " Little Cake," also 
known as Siantachan cC Chlair, "The Charmer of the Board," 
which was supposed to be of mysterious value in keeping want 
away from the house. This little cake was given to the child- 
ren, and when butter was ready or accessible, was thickly 
covered and given to the little fry, making a very welcome and 
grateful treat. Sometimes when the butter was very thickly 
spread, and perhaps with the thumb as the readiest and most 
convenient substitute for a knife, the housewife said, " Here 
take that ; it is better than a hoard of cloth " (Gabh sin ; 
's fhearr e na mir Hath 'an clud). Hence the expression that 
was used to denote that the preparations were not quite over : 

" Cha 'n 'eil am bonnach beag bruich fhathast." 

(The little cake is not ready yet). 
Not infrequently the little things hid their heads under their 
mother's apron, thinking, like the ostrich of the desert that if 
their heads were hidden, none of the rest of them would be 
seen. When children played the game in the open air, the 
stackyard was commonly resorted to, and the one who was fixed 
upon as the Blind Man, while the rest were hiding themselves 
had to call out three times, 

" Opera-opera-bo-baideag " 
adding at the third time, 

" Dalladh agus bodharadh agus dith na da chluais air an fhear 
nach cuala sud." 

(Blindness and deafness and the loss of both ears be the lot of 
the one who will not hear that). 

The Blind-man then caught hold of one of the stacks, and went 
round, guided by his hands, giving occasional kicks in case any 
one should be hiding himself near the ground. 



(Page 44). 

Guibhnich, or Duimhnich, were the Campbells. In a song in 
dispraise of the clan occurs, 

" Bheir mi 'n sgrlob so air na Guibhnich 
Air son cuimhneachadh o nuadh. 

(I will make this line on the Campbell clan, 
To remind them anew) ; 

and in another similar song, 

" Sgrios a' chorrain air a* choinnlein 
Air na bheil bed do na Guibhnich." 

(The destruction of the reaping-hook 

on a grain of corn 
On the living race of the Campbell clan). 

In Stewart's Collection, p. 320, is found, 

" Dean mo ghearan gu cuimhneach 
RisnajDuimhnidh ghlan uasal." 

(Be mindful to lay my complaint 

Before the pure-minded noble Campbells). 


(Page 52). 

Port-nan-long is said to have got its name from the following 
circumstance : — About the year 500 A.D., the few inhabitants 
then living in Tiree were in the township and neighbourhood 
of Sorabi, where there was a chapel, and which lies on the 

134 Appendix. 

south-east side of the island, and is separated by the stream of 
the- same name running past the burying-ground into the bay, 
from the township of Balinoe (Baile-nodha). The island 
having been previously desolated by pirates and cattle-raiders, 
and a rumour being heard at this time that a band of these had 
again returned among the islands to renew their depredations, 
a watch was kept, and the factor of the community, who appears 
to have been their only protector and counsellor, went daily 
to look seawards for the appearance of the enemy, lest the 
small and feeble band might be surprised before they could 
make their escape or reach a hiding-place. One day then he 
saw ships coming from the south-east, and he went in and sent 
word to his neighbours. When he looked again, the ships were 
nearer and were a large fleet. The next look he gave he saw 
that they were close at hand, near the land. He then called 
the people round him, and told them how he could see that 
their enemies, who were near, were too powerful to be resisted; 
that as he himself and those with him were defenceless, and 
unable to escape, their only hope of deliverance from their 
terrible danger was in the power of Almighty God, whose aid 
he would ask, and kneeling on the ground with his friends and 
neighbours around him, he said, " O Lord, as all power is in 
thy hand, help us against these enemies who are coming on us 
(to destroy us) "; (A Thighearna, o 'n a's ann ad laimh a tha 
gach cumhachd, cuidich leinn o na ?iaimhdean sin a tha 'tighinn 
oirnn I). He had scarcely uttered the last word when a violent 
storm came from the south-east, and the ships of the enemy 
came ashore, one heaped above another (air muin a 7 cheile)^ 
Sixteen of them were completely destroyed. One person even 
was not left to tell their fate ; and from that time the place has 
been called Port-nan-long, (the Creek of Boats). 


Mac vie Ailein of Morar (Mbr-ttiir) was out in a shealing 
with his men, on a summer morning, and saw a young woman 
following cows, with her petticoats gathered to keep them dry, 
as the dew was heavy on the ground (a cbtaithean truiste, le 
truimead an driuchd, g' an cumail tiora?n). He said, " Would 
not that be a handsome young woman if her two legs were not 
so slender (mur biodh caoilead a da ckoise)." She answered in 
his hearing, " Often a slender-shanked cow has a large udder 1 
(is minig a bha iith mhbr aig bo chaol-chasach)" He asked her 
to be brought where he was ; she was his own dairymaid. She 
went away to Ireland, and named her son Murdoch after his 
foster-father (oide), whom she afterwards married. He was 
known as Little Murdoch MacRonald (Murcha beag Mac 
Raonuill). As he grew older his mother would be telling him 
about a brother he had in Alban (an Albainn) who was a 
strong and powerful man, and the lad, being a good wrestler, 
thought he would like to go and see him, to try a bout of 
wrestling (car-gleachd) with him, to find which of them was the 

i. In the oldest known version of the Exile of the Son of Usnech 
(preserved in the 12th century MS., the Book of Leinster) when Noisi 
sees Deirdre for the first time, he exclaims, ' 'Tis a fair heifer passing 
by me.' She answers, ' Where the bulls are there must needs be fine 
heifers.' This is one of the passages relied upon by Prof. Zimmer in 
support of his contention that old Irish literature is so extremely 
1 naturalistic ' in its treatment of sexual matters that we must needs 
suppose the Aryan Celts were polluted by a rude and more archaic 
population. I confess I see nothing in either the earlier or the present 
passage but the simplicity of a race living, 2000 years ago, as it 
still in part does, very close to nature, and accustomed to frank 
speaking about natural matters. The whole of this tradition is simply 
the fitting into a local frame of incidents which are commonplaces in 
the folk-tales.— A. N. 

136 Appendix. 

strongest man, and watched for an opportunity to get to Alban. 
As there was frequent communication then between Ireland 
and the Western Highlands he had not long to wait till he saw 
a boat in which it was likely he would be taken. He went to 
the harbour and on reaching the boat, without knowing that it 
belonged to his brother, asked the first person he met, who was 
Mac vie Ailein himself, if he would get ferried across to Scot- 
land {dK iarr e'n t-aiseag). Mac vie Ailein said that he would 
take him with them. When they went away the day became 
stormy (sheid an latka), and no one who went to steer but was 
lifted from the helm, 2 Mac vie Ailein being thrown aside as 
well as the others. When Murcha beag Mac Raonuill saw that 
the strongest man among them could not stand at the helm, he 
asked to be allowed to try it. "You would get that," Mac vie 
Ailein said, " if you were like a man who was able to do it, but 
when it is beyond our strength Cnuair a dK fhairtlich i oirnn 
fhein), you need not make the attempt." u At anyrate," he 
said " I will give it a trial " : and it did not make him alter 
his position (cha do chuir i thar a bhuinn e) till they reached 
land. As he was the best seaman Mac vie Ailein would not 
part with him. He took him to his house and entertained him 
as a guest. They entered into conversation and began to give 
news to each other (chaidh iad gu seanachas agus gu naigh- 
eachdan) till little Murdoch told him he was his brother and 
that it was for the express purpose (a dli aon obair) of 
seeing him he had come from Ireland, and that he would not 
return till they tried a bout of wrestling, since Mac vie Ailein 
was so renowned for his prowess, and he would find out what 
strength he possessed before he left. The heroes rose and 
began to wrestle, but in a short time Mac vie Ailein was thrown 
(Dli eirich na suinn, ach ann an Hot a bha Mac He Ailein 's a 

2. The helm was worked by being- caught by the shoulders of the 
steersman as it worked backwards and forwards ('g a cheapadh le 
'$hlinneanan a null 's a nail) 

Appendix. 137 

dhruim ri talamh). " I am pleased to have taken the trouble 
of coming from Ireland (toilichte as mo shaothair)" Murdoch 
said. Next day at dinner they had beef on the table, and little 
Murdoch said, " Let us try which of us can break the shank 
bone 3 (a 1 chama-dhubh) with the hand closed." "I am willing," 
Mac vie Ailein said. " Well, try it, then," Murdoch said. 
Mac vie Ailein tried as hard as his strength would permit, 
and it defied him (dh } fhairtlich i air). Murdoch broke it at 
the first blow. Mac vie Ailein then said, " You will not return 
to Ireland any more ; you will stay with me, and we will divide 
the estate between us." Murdoch replied, " I am well to do 
as it is (gle mhath dheth mar tha), my mother and stepfather 
have sufficient worldly means (gu lebir de 'n t-saoghal), and I 
will not stay away from them though you were to give me the 
whole estate," and wishing Mac vie Ailein enjoyment and 
prosperity, he bade him farewell and returned to Ireland, and 
friendly communication was kept up between them ever 
afterwards during their lives. 

3. A* chama-dhubh, the bone of the animal between the knee and 
shoulder-point (na bha de 'n chnaimh eadar an gliin agus an^t-alt- 
liithainn ). 



Among the treasures regarding folk-lore that I have been able 
to collect are a few letters of the late J. F. Campbell of Islay to 
the Rev. J. G. Campbell, late Minister of Tiree. They deal 
with various questions and traditions. 

Inter alia is a discussion concerning the word sail versus siol 
Dhiarmaid. I give the letters as written. 


The late Campbell of Islay to the late J. G. Campbell. 

Travellers' Club, 
Feb. 27, 1871. 
My Dear Sir, 

I'll get you the books you name and send them soon. 
With regard to sail there was once an actor who amused an audience 
by putting- his head under his cloak and squealing- like a pig. A 
countryman rose and said that he would squeal better next day. So 
a match was made and tried. The audience applauded the actor and 
hissed the countryman. But he produced a pig from under his cloak. 
I know what the man meant who signed Sail Dhiarmaid. The man 

who spoke no other language pointed 
to the place in his foot which he meant 
by Sail, so I learned the lesson, and 
anybody who will try may learn a good 
deal about Gaelic in the same fashion. 
If a man staits with the conviction 
that knowledge is to the unknown as a 
-^P drop in the ocean — he will get on. 

I have MacNicol, and know his 

remark about Ossian's leg. 

I have now got the only copy that ever was written, so far as I 

know, and I shall be glad to get more. But we must all take what 

we can get. As far as fixing the king or the country and the date, 

that is perfectly hopeless. I have about 16 versions of one story in 

Appendix. 139 

Gaelic, an d no two have the same name . ' I suppose that there must 
be sixty versions of it known in other languages, and no two are 
alike. The oldest I know is scattered in ejaculations and separate 
lines through the Rigveda Sanhita, which is a collection of 
hymns in Sanscrit, and the oldest things known. St. George and the 
Dragon is a form of the story. Perseus and Andromeda is another. 
In Gaelic it is generally Mac an Iasgair, or Iain Mac somebody, or 
Fionn Mac a' Bhradain, a something to do with a mermaid or a 
dragon, the herding of cows and the slaying of giants. The stories 
to which I referred were told me by John Ardfenaig as facts (the Duke 
of Argyll's factor in the Ross of Mull). A man built a boat. Another, 
to spite him, said that the death of a man was in that boat — no one 
would go to sea in it, and at last the boat was sold by the builder to 
an unbeliever in ghosts and dreams. The other was how the turnips 
were protected in Tiree. If you know these you have got far, but if 
not you have a good deal'to learn in Tiree. 

I wish you success anyhow, 

Yours truly, 


Niddry Lodge, Kensington, 
March 28, 1871. 

My Dear Sir, 

I have been too busy about festivities and work 
to be able to get the book which I promised to seek for you. I got 
your letter of the 20th, yesterday, and I am much obliged by your 
promise to put some one to write for me. If he writes from dictation 
will you kindly beg him to follow the words spoken without regard to 
his own opinion, or to what they ought to be. I speak English, but 
when I come to read Chaucer I find words that I am not used to. So 
it is when men who speak Gaelic begin to write old stories. Our 
argument is an illustration. You speak Gaelic and you believe that 
Saii means heel and nothing else. You told me that Sail Dhiarmaid 
ought to be Slol. 

Now I speak Gaelic, but I profess to be a scholar, not a teacher. 
I happen to know that the man who signed Sail Dhiarmaid, which 
was printed Sail did'nt mean Slol. I have the following quotation, — 

"Eisdibh beag ma 's aill leibh laoidh 
Chaidh am bior ninth' bu mhbr crhdh 
An Sail an laoich nach tlath J s an trod — 
'Se ri sior chall nafala 
Le lot a' bhior air a bhonn." 

14° Appendix, 

In this old lay as sung: in the outer 
isles these would mean the spot which 
an old Mull man pointed to as sail.* 

If you are sceptical I hold to my 
creed of the people. But creed or 
no creed I want to g-et the tradition 
as it exists and I would not give a 
snuff for "cooked" tradition. 

*This discussion is doubtless concerning the 
spot where tradition says the bristle of the boar 
wounded Diarmaid when he measured the length of the dead beast. — A C. 

Tuesday, Oct. 10, 1871. 
Conan House, Dingwall. 
My Dear Sir, 

I promised yesterday at Portree to send you my 
version of the fairy song-, and asked you to return yours. You must 
remember that I never tried to write it from Gaelic, and that I never 
tried to write it from rapid dictation till last month. Corr ect my 
sp elling -, but mind that I took the sounds from ear, so preserve all that 
you can without reference to dictionary words. Don't be hard upon 
a clansman who is doing his best. 

Believe me, 

Yours very truly, 


From John Cameron, a man about 60, who lives in the south end ot 
Barra, about three miles from Castlebay. He can sing and recite, 
1. — The Maiden (written by J. F. C.) ; 2. — The Death of Diarmaid ; 
3.— The Death of Osgar ; 4.— The Battle of Manus (written by J. F. 
C.) ; 5.— The story of the Death of Garry ; 6.— The Black Dog; 7.-* 
The story of ditto. 8. — The Smithy and story ; 9. — The M uirea rtach ; 
10. — Dan an Deirg; 11. — The Fairy Song (as written here by J. F. C); 
12. — How Coireal was slain ; 13. — Fionn's questions ; 14. — A small 
story written ; and sundry other songs, lays, and stories, which he 
will get written if I wish it. This is one of about a dozen of 
men whom I have met of late who can sing and recite Ossianic 
ballads, of which some are not in any book or old manuscript that I 
know. I have another version of this song, written about ten years 
ago — by MacLean,* I think. See Vol. IV. Popular Tales, Lists 
somewhere. It is now in London. 

* Hector MacLean, Ballygrant, Islay : now dead. — A. C. 



The Fairy Song. 

The tune is very wild and like a pibroch, 
it in the time. 

I could not learn 


This is the story as told in Gaelic. 

There was a time, at first, when before children were chris- 
tened they used to be taken by the fairies. A child was born 
and it was in a woman's lap. A fairy came to the Bean-ghlun 
and she said to the midwife, "'Strom do leanabh." " 'S trom 
gach torrach" said the other. "'Saotrom do leanabh" said the 
fairy. "'S aotrom gach soghalach," said the midwife, 'Sglas 
do leanabh" said the fairy. "'Sglas amfiar 's/dsaidh e" said 
the other ; and so she came day by day with words and with 
singing of verses to try if she could " word " him away with 
her — " am briatharachadh i leatha e." But the mother always 
had her answer ready. There was a lad recovering from a 
fever in the house and he heard all these words, and learned 
them, and he put the song together afterwards : after the child 
was christened the fairy came back no more. 

This is the song. I have tried to divide the words so as to 
represent the rhythm of the tune, but I am not sure that I have 
succeeded. — J. F. C. 

I have given a rough copy to Miss MacLeod of MacLeod at 
Dunvegan, and I should like to have this or a copy back if it is 
not troublesome. My first manuscript is not easy to read, and 
I have worked this from it. 

Fairy : — " 'S e mo leanabh mileanach 
Seachd Maileanach 
Seachd Dhuanach, 
Gual na lag ; 's lag na luineach 
Nachd'fhas "nacach." 

[Reciter don't understand gnathach, common.] 

142 Appendix. 

Mother : — Se mo leanabh ruiteach (colour ruddy) 
Reamhar molteach 
Miuthear mo luachair 
Ohog ri mnathan 
M' ebin 'us m' uighean 
On thug thu muine leat 
'Us maire leat 
'Us mo chrodh liiigh 
'Us mo lochraidh leat. 

Mother : — Bha thu fo 'm chrios an uire 
'S tha thu 'm bliadhna 
Gu cruinn buanach 
Air mo guailain 
Feadh a bhaile. 

Fairy : — Thug go gu gorach (fat, Reciter) 
Mnath 'n 6g a bhaile 
X Lan shaochait* uimach 
Thug go gu gorach 
Le 'n ciabhan dhonna 
Le 'n ciabhan troma 

[He said at first somewhere, " Le 'n ciochan corrach " ? place.] 

Thug go gu gorach 
'S le 'n suilean donna 

Mother : — Se sin Leoid 

Na lorg 's na luireach 

Se Lochlan bu duchas dhuit 

O fire fire ni mi uimad 

Cireadh do chinn 

Ni mi uimad. 

Fairy : — Fire fire ni mi uimad 
Cha tu an uan beag 


Appendix. 143 

Ni mi uimad 
Crodh 'us caorich 
Ni mi^uimad. 

Moth ' r : — Fire fire ni mi uimad 
Breachan chaola 
Ni mi uimad 
Fire fire ni mi uimad 
A bhog mhiladh (? fileadh. Oh soft soldier, 

soft mine own) 
bhog 's learn thu 
bhog mhilidh bhog 
Mo bhrii a rug 
O bhog mhilidh bhog 
Mo chioch a thug 
O bhog mhilidh bhog 
Mo gluin a thog 
O bhog mhilidh 
Bho 's learn thu. 

Fairy : — B' fhearr learn gu faic mi do bhuaille 
Gu ard ard an iomal sleibhe 
Cota geal cateanachf uaine 
Mu do ghuailain ghil 'us leine. 

Nurse : — B' fhearr learn gu faichean do sheisearach 
Fir na deance (?) a cuit shil 
Gu rb do cheol air feadh do thalla (land or 

Leann bhi ga gabhail le fion 
Bhog mhilidh bhog 
'S leam thu. 

* Suobhcail or saobh chiall. 
f Hairy, rough, shaggy. 

144 Appendix. 

And so she says a verse each day, and if that would not do, 
she came the next and made another, and the little lad made 
out the song which he sat and heard. When the child was 
baptized she went away and never came back again. 

N.B. — I have set the verses to each character as best I could, 
not knowing much about it except the last two, these the reciter 


The Fairy Song in the MS. is most difficult to read. It was 
written phonetically, and is now in some places indistinct. The 
following transliteration and translation by Mr. Duncan Mac 
Isaac, of Oban, show a probable reading, and this may be 
enough, in view of the spell-words of the fairy, whose mystic 
diction appears to have been of a conservative quality, and 
to have affected the responses of the infant's mother. — [A. C] 

Fairy — 'S e mo leanabh mi-loinneach 
Seac maoileanach 
Seac ghuanach, 

Guailne lag, 's lag 'n a luireach 
Nach d' uisinnicheadh. 

Mother : — 'S e mo leanabh ruiteach 
Reamhar moltach 
M' iubhar mo luachair 
A thog ri mnathan 
M' eoin is m' uighean 
O 'n thug thu m' uine leat 
Ism' aire leat 
Is mo chrodh-laoigh 
Is mo laochraidh leat. 

Appendix. 145 

Mother : — Bha thu fo 'm chrios an uiridh 
'S tha thu 'm bliadhna 
Gu cruinn buanach 
Air mo ghualainn 
Feadh a' bhaile. 

Fairy : — Thuth go gugurach 
Mnathan 6g a' bhaile 
Lan shbghail uidheamach 
Thuth go gugurach 
Le 'n ciabhan donna 
Le 'n ciabhan troma 
Thug go gugurach 
Le 'n ciochan corrach 
'S le 'n siiilean donna. 

Mother : — 'S e sin Lebid 

'N a lorg 's 'n a luireach 

'S Lochlann bu diithchas dhuit 

O fire fire ni mi umad 

Cireadh do chinn 

Ni mi umad. 

Fairy : — Fire fire ni mi umad 
Cha tu an t-uan beag 
Ni mi umad. 
Crodh is caoraich 
Ni mi umad. 

Mother : — Fire fire ni mi umad 
Breacain chaola 
Ni mi umad 
Fire fire ui mi umad 
A bhog mhilidh 
O bhog 's leam thu 


146 Appendix. 

O bhog mhilidh bhog 
Mo bhru a rug 
O bhog mhilidh bhog 
Mo chioch a thug 
O bhog mhilidh bhog 
Mo ghluin a thog 
O bhog mhilidh 
Bho 's learn thu. 

Fairy : — B' fhearr learn gu faic mi do bhuaile 
Gu ard ard 'an iomall sleibhe 
Cbta geal caiteineach uaine 
Mu do ghualainn ghil is l&ne. 

Mother : — B' fhearr learn gu faicinn do sheisreach 
Fir na deannaige a' cur sil 
Gu robh do cheol air feadh do thalla 
Leann 'bhi 'g a ghabhail le fion 
Bhog mhilidh bhog 
'S learn thu. 

Fairy : — He is my ungraceful child, 

Withered, bald, and light-headed, 
Weak-shouldered, and weak in his equipments, 
That have not been put to use. 

Mother : — He is my ruddy child, plump and praiseworthy ; 
My yew-tree, my rush, raised to women ; 
My bird and my eggs, since thou hast taken my 

time with thee, 
My watchful care, my calved-cows, and my heroes 

with thee ; 
Last year thou wast under my girdle, 
Thou art this year neatly gathered 
Continually upon my shoulder 
Through the town. 

Appendix. 147 

Fairy : — Hooh go googurach, 

Young women of the town, fond of delicacies and 

Hooh go googurach, 

With their brown ringlets, with their heavy tresses, 
With their abrupt breasts, with their brown eyes. 

Mother : — That is a Mac Leod by heredity 
In his coat of mail ; 
Thy nativity is Scandinavian ; 
O pother, pother, the combing of thy head, 
I'll do that about thee. 
Fairy : — Pother, pother, I'll do about thee ; 
Thou art not the little lamb 
I'll make about thee, 
Cattle and sheep I'll make about thee. 

Mother : — Pother, pother, I'll do about thee, 
Narrow plaids I'll make about thee, 
O pother I'll make about thee, thou soft warrior, 
O tender one, thou art mine, thou soft soldier, 
The fruit of my womb, thou soft, tender warrior, 
My breast that took, thou soft champion, 
Reared upon my knees, thou tender champion, 
Since thou art mine. 
Fairy : — I'd prefer to see thy cattle-fold 

High, high on the shoulder of the mountain, 

A white coat, ruffled green, 

About thy white shoulders, and a shirt. 

Mother : — I'd prefer to see thy team of horses, 

And the men of the handfuls sowing seed, 
And that thy music would be through thy hall 
Accompanied by ale and wine ; 
Thou tender champion, 
Thou art mine. 

148 Appendix. 

The late Campbell of I slay in the following letter, extracts 
of which will be given, alludes to Mr. Campbell's intention of 

publishing at no distant date. 

Niddry Lodge, Jan., 16, 1871. 
I thank you for your letter of the 10th which reached me on 
Saturday, on my return to Tiree. 

I shall be very glad to assist a namesake and a Highland minister 
who is engaged in literary work, in which I take a special interest 
myself. I now repeat my message, and ask you to place my name 
on the list of subscribers, if you have one. I shall be very glad to 
read your book. I am not publishing more Gaelic tales, but I am 
collecting, and I may some day publish a selection or an abstract or 
something from a great mass which I have got together. If you 
have anything to spare from your gatherings perhaps the best plan 
would be to employ some good scribe, etc. etc. etc. If you have any 
intention of publishing I beg that you will not think of sending me 
your gatherings. But anything sent will be carefully preserved. 

Superstitions are very interesting, but I should fear that the people 
will not confide their superstitions to the minister. Amongst other 
matters which are noteworthy are superstitious practices about fowls. 

These prevail in Scotland, and are identical with sacrifices by the 
blacks amongst whom Speke and Grant travelled — so Grant told me. 
Anything to do with serpents has special interest because of the extent 
of ancient serpent worship, for which see Ferguson's great book on 
Tree and Serpent Worship in India and elsewhere. The connection 
between tree and well worship in India and in Scotland generally, and 
generally in the old world, is well worth investigation ; also anything 
that is like the Vedic forms of religion, at which you can get by read- 
ing Wilson's Translation of the Rigveda Sanhita, and the works of 
Max Muller. Anything belonging specially to the sea is interesting. 
The Aryans are supposed to have been natives of Central Asia, to 
whom the sea must have been a great mystery. 

Now it is a fact that all the Aryan nations have curious beliefs and 
ceremonies and practices about going to sea, e.g. — you must not 
whistle at sea ; you must not name a mouse Luds in Argyll but Biast 
tighe ; you must not say the shore names tot fine or low when at sea, 
but use sea terms ; all that is curious and very hard to get at. Even 
to me they will not confess their creed in the supernatural. I have 
a great lot of stuff that might be useful to you, and I shall be glad to 
serve you, because there is a certain narrow-minded spirit abroad to 
which reference is made in the paper which I send herewith. It is 
highly probable that I may be out in the west in spring or summer. 

Yours very truly, 


Appendix. 149 

The following letter refers to the longest and most complex 
tale orally preserved in the Highlands, 'The Leeching of 
Kian's Leg.' The version which Islay mentions is still im- 
printed. It is preserved with a portion of his MSS. in the 
Advocate's Library at Edinburgh, and a summary of its contents 
has been published by me in Folk-Lore, Vol. I., p. 369. Mr. T<SSlni/^; 
Campbell's fragmentary version 'was printed and translated by f 

him, 'Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, 1888.' / 

Another fragmentary version, collected by the Rev. D. Mac- 
Innes, will be found in Vol. II. of this series. The oldest 
known MS. version, alluded to in this letter, has been edited 
and translated by Mr. Standish Hayes O'Grady in Silva 
Gadelica, from a 15th century MS. A re-telling of the story, 
based upon all the versions, will be found in Mr. Jacob's 
More Celtic Fairy Tales. — A. N. 

May, 4, 71. Niddry Lodge, 

My Dear Sir, 

I sent you a Times review of Clerk's Ossian the 
other day to amuse you ; also a paper with an account of fighting in 
Paris, where I was at Easter. 

I got your letter and parcel of May i, last night, and I have just 
read the story. It is extremely well written, and the language is 
vernacular and perfectly genuine : as I have now got 20 volumes, and 
halt another, I am able to judge. Yours is a version of the story of 
which I sent you the abstract. If ever I publish the story I see that 
I must fuse versions, and select from the majority of various readings, 
under the name of "The Leching of Khene is legg." The story is 
mentioned in the Catalogue of the Earl of Kildare's library amongst 
the Irish Books, A.D. 1526 (Harleian MSS., 3756, Brit. Museum). I 
gave this information to Kildare, who has been hunting high and 
low to find out what was meant, they could not tell him in Ireland. 
I met him at Lome's marriage and lent him my copy, 142 pages from 
oral r§pitatk>n. Now you send me 19 more pages, and 3 of another 
version, 22. Between us we have already recovered something of a 
story 345 years old at least. 

Therefore Tradition is respectable ; a comparison of versions gives 
a fair measure of the power of popular memory, so that written Gaelic 

150 Appendix. 

folk-lore is a kind of measure for other and older written traditions. 
But as all that is old in history was tradition at first, the study is 
worth trouble as I judge. The more we can get written the better 
pleased I shall be. I am exceedingly obliged to you, and hope to 
thank you in person some of these days. 

I am, 

Yours truly, 


Archibald Sinclair Printer Celtic Pre ft, 10 Bothwell Street, Qlatgvu. 




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8 3 cauUst^ 

^ C-n 








■"'&&' v> 


University of Toronto Robarts 

OS Oct 97 




Clan traditions and popular talp- of **»« 


Campbell. John Gregorson 

Clan-traditions ami popular 
tales of the western Highlands 
and islands