Leaving Usinish Bothy %28600 x 450%29


9 responses to “Bookclub

  1. Waxwing

    April 1, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    ‘The Sea is Wide – New Celts from Old Horizons’

    500 Copies of ‘The Sea is Wide’ have already been downloaded from this site free of charge, proving its appeal to family researchers. From now on in (as of April 1, 2013), the volume can be downloaded (PDF format is the best option) at a cost of £6 (US$9)from

    Alternatively it can be downloaded at the much cheaper cost of £2 (US$3) on giving a donation to the Derry charity, Children in Crossfire, at

    To secure the cheaper purchase, please post the request on this page under your pseudonym if preferred, with perhaps any genealogy query for good measure. Upon receipt by Waxwings (my pseudonym) of any such request, and confirmation to Waxwings from Justgiving of a donation to Children in Crossfire, Waxwings will temporarily unblock the Smashwords site to enable the free download.

    Although Smashwords favours the ePub format, for downloads the PDF version seems to work better, fully preserves the formatting and more closely resembles the appearance of a normal book. All that is lost in the PDF version is the technicolour but it reads just like a Kindle.

  2. Don MacFarlane

    May 5, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Submitted by Callum Beck, Nova Scotia on 2012/05/04 at 3:17 am
    Just came across the following Gaelic poem about Alexander and Colin of Boisdale.

    The author, A MacDonald, has this to say about it: “Beannachadh Tigh Fir Bhaosdail …. page 376. The house which so drew MacCodrum’s admiration was Kilbride House, the residence of Colin Macdonald of Boisdale, demolished a few years ago. The ” Blessing on Boisdale’s House ” was composed after 1768, in which year died Alexander Macdonald of Boisdale, of whom the bard speaks as having passed away, and to whose memory the first part of the song is dedicated. The rest is eulogistic of his son and successor, and his new residence. Would there be anyway to get a translation of this?

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    • Don MacFarlane

      May 5, 2012 at 10:20 am

      I’ll try my best, though much of the vocabulary is antiquarian as one might expect. I will post it in bits on consecutive days to allow for explanatory notes and comments. I have used the device of []s to place my own interpretation if a) the passages appear not to join up b) several English translations are possible. I note from the source document that some pedantic person has taken the trouble to insert by pencil the grave and acute punctuation marks.

      Having perused through it, it appears to me that MacCodrum, rather than praise Boisdale directly (which might be perceived as a bit impertinent and vainglorious), is mainly praising the Boisdale household as embodied by the castle or mansion.

      Gu’m beannaicheadh Dia an tur is ailne
      (May God bless the magnificent mansion [castle/tower])
      Gus an d’thainig mi am beul oidhche
      (Till I get there late at night)
      Gearr o’n larach a bha an t-armunn
      (The warrior was near at hand)
      Bu cheann-tanach ro na h’aoidhean
      ([but]The channel is narrow to navigate)

      Note: Some words are now spelt differently to what appears here eg armann instead of armunn, meaning warrior.
      Note: This first verse appears to be the obligatory bending of the knee and words of praise to the chieftain.
      Note: For anyone who wants to try their hand, SMO dictionary can be found at

      • Don MacFarlane

        May 5, 2012 at 10:22 am

        An robh ‘n curaidh, an robh ‘n gaisgeach
        (Wasn’t that the champion, wasn’t that the hero)
        An sar chaiptin ro’ na miltean
        (A superlative captain amongst thousands)
        An robh ‘n duine bu thearc sabhailt
        (Such a man was scarce to be found [gleaned/reprieved])
        Bha ri fhaighinn anns na criochan
        (Anywhere in the country [in one’s travels]

        ‘Se sar-mhac mor Mhac Ic Ailein
        (It was Clanranald’s son and heir)
        Fhuair an alla ‘s cha bu mhi-chliu
        (Received the honour, certainly not a disgrace)
        Cha bu duchanan thug cliu air
        (It was not a false word [rumour/scandal]that gave notice)
        Fada shiubh’lte feadh gach rioghachd
        (And word spread far and wide)

        Note: This piece is hard to translate and interpret as a) it refers to matters that are presumed to be known by the reader or listener but not introduced other than by reference to Clanranald and b) some words are neologisms or extinct eg does duchanan derive from du(bh)-chanan

        • Don MacFarlane

          May 5, 2012 at 10:23 am

          Dh’aindeoin na labhair iad uile
          (Despite all that praise)
          Cha d’fhuair e an t-urram a b’fhiach e
          (He didn’t get the reverence he deserved)

          Gu’m beannaicheadh Dia an tur allail
          (May God bless the beautiful mansion)
          Is glan sealladh ‘se tur Chailein
          (What a wonderful sight is Colin’s Tower)
          Tur is ainmeil feadh gach talmhuinn
          (A mansion so famous far and near)
          Tur air laimrig Chaolas-Bharraidh
          (The tower at the harbour of Kyles-Barra)

          Comment: Something of a contradiction is this poem. It is meant to be a eulogy of a chief but it harps on about his grand house instead. However, it seems to be a poetic device whereby the house is the physical embodiment of the Boisdale family values.
          Comment: John MacCodrum is thought to have been Bard to Sir James MacDonald of Sleat so it seems strange that he was writing here about a branch of the Clanranalds.

          • Don MacFarlane

            May 5, 2012 at 10:25 am

            Se tur nan cliar, an tur fialaidh
            (The mansion of entertainment and hospitality)
            An tur an riaraicher gun ghainne
            (The mansion where there was no want)
            An tur ceolmhor am bi mhorchuis
            (The tower of music and grandeur)
            Fion is beoir air bord gun cheannach
            (Wine and beer free for all)

            Tur an fhortain, cliuiteach, cosgail
            (The mansion of wealth, renowned for its lavishness)
            Am fag na daoine bochd am beannachd
            (Where the poor leave their blessings)
            Tur an t-sonais ‘s am bi’n onoir
            (The mansion of happiness and dignity)
            Ge be mholadh e mar b’airidh
            (it should always be praised)

            • Don MacFarlane

              May 5, 2012 at 10:27 am

              ‘S alainn, eibhinn, dearrsadh grein air
              (Magnificent, heartening when lit by the rays of the sun)
              ‘N am bhi ‘g eiridh maduinn Earraich
              (When rising on a Spring morning)
              Solas inntinn fir na tire
              (A comfort to those on land)
              Laindeir oidhche do luchd mara
              (A lantern at night for those at sea)

              Ionad reulaidh dh’fhear na eiginn
              (A visible point for any man in distress)
              ‘N am bhi steidheachadh air cala
              (When fixing a location on port)
              Ni e soillse mar an daoimean
              (it shines like a diamond)
              Solus coinnle ‘n uinneag ghloine
              (A beacon through glass window)

              • Don MacFarlane

                May 5, 2012 at 10:28 am

                Ro mhaith sgliatadh, ro mhaith aoladh
                (Excellent stone-splitting, excellent plaster)
                Ro mhaith an t-saothair a th’air a bhalla
                (Excellent workmanship on the walls)
                ‘S ro mhaith ghiubhas a th’air a dhluthadh
                (Excellent the mortar that holds it together)
                Air son uirneis bheir e barrachd
                (To guarantee it will last)

                An tigh as fearr tha measg nan Gaidheal
                (The best house in the Highlands)
                Co’n duin ann na’s fearr na Cailein
                (Which man is better than Colin)
                Duine gasda, cneasda, diadhuidh
                (A fine, decent, godly man)
                Cliu d’a iar-ogha, cliu d’a sheanair
                (A credit to his great-grandson, a credit to his grandfather)

                • Don MacFarlane

                  May 5, 2012 at 10:29 am

                  An tigh’s an duin’ a reir a cheile
                  (The house and the man are well-matched)
                  Mar fhuair Eamunn an t-each barr-fhionn
                  (Just as Eamonn found the white stallion)
                  Gu’n gleidheadh tu o’ neart namhaid
                  (May you gain from the strength of any enemy)
                  O neart teine ‘so neart mara
                  (From the heat of fire and from the force of the sea)

                  Gun gleidheadh Dia am fear chuir suas e
                  (May God safeguard the man that built her)
                  Saoghal buan ‘san dualchas arroil
                  (A lasting world with a firm heritage)
                  E fein is a shliochd na dheigh
                  (He and his heirs to follow)
                  Dhol air adhart air deagh ghnothach
                  (Progressing in the right way)


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