Raasay: The Island and Its People

By Norma Macleod | Go to book overview

APPENDIX 2
Orain Ratharsair
Songs of Raasay

There are three songs given here in the original Gaelic with an English 'translation'. They have been taken from a paper written by Dr Somhairle MacLean for the Gaelic Society of Inverness. As with any translation from an old language, such as Gaelic, the English version can give only some idea of the thoughts and sentiments express in the original. It is also relevant that these songs were composed more than three centuries ago and Gaelic words, in common with all living languages, have changed with time. Many thanks to Miss Mary Gillies, Oscaig and Inverness, for the English version and also to Mr D. R. MacDonald, Braes, Portree for his comments.


Sgoirebreac

It is said that Margaret MacLeod, a sister of Iain Garbh of Raasay, married Calum Nicolson, son and heir of Donald Nicolson, the then chief of the Nicolsons of Scorrybreac. Somhairle's grandmother, Mary MacLean (nee Matheson), and his Aunt Peggie sang this song which could be the celebration of such a marriage. As with all of these very old songs, there were variants. Dr John Maclnnes noted some other lines of this song in 1955, from Mrs Kate Beaton, Woodend, Portree. Dr Maclnnes notes:

I have separated the sections as shown but it was not clear to me where the
names of 'Mr John and Mr Donald' were meant to fit. There can be little
doubt, however, that these two are Nicolsons of the Sgorabreac family. They
only occur in Mrs Beaton's text.

-243-

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