Friday, 27 June 2014
A previous blog offered a summary of Angus MacMillan’s life story. It may be divided into eleven sections of varying lengths. Here is offered the eleventh and concluding part (NFC 1180, pp. 540–48) where MacMillan relates to Maclean the situations in which he found himself telling stories. The opportunity has been taken to modernise the Gaelic orthography and also to offer a translation. A summary of this section may be given as follows;
MacMillan relates that on helping give birth to a cow he told to story, a very long one. MacMillan kept on telling the story until around six o’clock in the morning. On another occasion, MacMillan began relating a story to a group of women but by the time five o’clock in the morning had gone he was not finished. In a week’s time he asked them if they wished him to continue and they all said that they didn’t wish for him to keep going as they had been lambasted for being so late on the previous occasion. On yet another occasion, MacMillan began telling a story to group of folk; the story lasted all night and by the time the story was finished the sun had risen. MacMillan says that he told stories in many places and if he was in a hurry he would shorten them. On another storytelling occasion, MacMillan began telling a story by a wall to the local blacksmith who was very keen to hear tales and as he continued around fifty people had crowded around him to listen. By nightfall he had not finished telling the story. Then MacMillan tells of a lad [Calum Òg] that he and his wife adopted. He reckons it was the best thing that he had ever done. He later went on to marry a woman from Barra [Anne MacLean]. MacMillan ends his biography by saying that he is growing progressively weaker but also wishing to bless anyone who listens to his tale.
11. Na Sgeulachdan
Bha mi a siud oidhche agus ’s ann a’ caithris mart a bha a’ dol a bhreith a bha mi agus bha mi air ais ’s air adhart a-mach is a-staigh. Agus rug an seo a bhò. Fhuair mi a’ bhò air dòigh co-dhiù agus bha dròbh de dhaoine a-staigh, dithis na triùir de ghillean òga, a bheil sibh a’ faicinn:
“Well, ’illean,” orsa mi fhìn, “tha mi coma ged a ghabhainn stòiridh bheag dhaibh ann a sheo,” ors’ mi fhìn, “agus bi sibh glè thoilichte,” orsa mi fhìn, “a’ dol dhachaigh a-nochd nuair a chluinneas sibh i.”
“O! glè mhath,” ors’ a h-uile duine riamh a bha sineach, “cluinneam i.”
Theann mi air sgeulachd agus theann mi orra agus gum b’ e an sgeulachd a ghabh mi, O! tè mhòr, mhòr, fhada. Theann mi air an sgeulachd co-dhiù is bha an sgeulachd a’ còrdadh ris na gillean anabarrach math.
“Chan eil guth,” ors’ à-san, “air coimhead air a’ bhòin an-dràsta.”
“O! chan eil,” orsa mi fhìn. “Tha mi a’ smaointinn gun tarraing e suas,” orsa mi fhìn, “gu co-dhiù eadar a dhà is a trì uairean sa mhadainn.”
“A bheil dùil agad,” ors’ à-san, “gu bheil sinne a’ dol a dh’fhantail còmh’ riut ’uige sin?”
“O! well,” orsa mi fhìn, “fana’ sibh treis co-dhiù gus am bi an sgeulachd ullamh.”
Ach mun do theirg an sgeulachd, bha e sia uairean sa mhadainn agus:
“Faoda’ sibh a-nist falbh dhachaigh,” orsa mi fhìn, “agus tha a’ bhò air glanadh,” orsa mi fhìn, “agus tha a’ bhò all right. Is fhada o rug i. Ach gheibh sibh biadh mu fhalbh sibh,” orsa mi fhìn, “nach bi agaibh ri ghabhail,” orsa mi fhìn, “nuair a thèid sibh dhachaigh.”
Agus fhuair mi na gillean còmhla rium fad na h-oidhche gus an robh a’ bhò all right againn. Chaidh iad dhachaigh as a’ mhadainn. Bha mi an siud oidhche eile a-staigh agus cha robh a-staigh ach mi fhìn is a’ bhean agus mo phiuthar, Màiri Anna. Thàinig dithis chailleachan dhan taigh againn, leth sheann-bhoireannaich. Bha iad a’ bruidhinn a-null is a-nall is theann iad orm fhìn airson gun gabhainn stòiridh bheag dhaibh.
“Leòra! o nach eil sinn ach boireannaich co-dhiù, ach mi fhìn,” orsa mi fhìn. “Tha mi coma ged a ghabhainn tèag bheag, laghach, sgiobalta.”
“Cuimhnich,” orsa tè dhiubh, “na biodh i fada.”
“Cha bhi gu dearbha,” orsa mise.
Theann mi air an sgeulachd agus bha mi ag obair air an sgeulachd is bha an sgeulachd a’ còrdadh ris na boireannaich anabarrach fhèin math. Bha mi ag obair air an sgeulachd is chaidh an seoach tì mun cuairt agus fhuair na boireannaich tì.
“Cha ghabh mise tì idir,” orsa mi fhin, “gus am bi an sgeulachd deiseil mum bi mi a’ cumail nam boireannach ro fhada.”
Thàinig aon uair deug is thàinig meadhan-oidhche is cha robh an sgeulachd ullamh. Thàinig uair sa mhadainn is cha robh an sgeulachd uallamh. Bha a’ sgeulachd a’ còradh riutha cho math agus cha b’ urrainn daibh falbh bhuaithe gus am faigheadh iad deireadh an t-seanchais uile. Ach, co-dhiù, bha mise ag obair air an sgeulachd. Thàinig còig uairean sa mhadainn is cha robh an sgeulachd ullamh. Ach bha a’ ghrian ag èirigh an làr-na-mhàireach nuair a bha an sgeulachd ullamh.
“An-dà, gu dearbha,” orsa tè dha na boireannaich, “’s ann innte a bha an stòiridh bheag, agus cho fada is gun robh i,” ors’ ise, “cha b’ urrainn duinne falbh,” ors’ ise, “gus am faigheamaid a-mach a’ chuid mu dheireadh dhìth. Agus faoda’ sinn a-nist a dhol dhachaigh,” ors’ ise, “agus cha ruig sinn a leas lainndear, na torch na rud eile ach Solas nan Cràst’,” ors’ ise. “Tha solas cho soillear ann,” ors’ ise, “agus ged a bhiodh e sa mheadhan-latha.”
Agus thàinig iad an ceann seachdain as a dheaghaidh sineach agus mi a-staigh.
“An gabh mi stòiridh bheag dhuibh a-nochd?”
“Gu dearbha fhèine, cha ghabh,” ors’ ise.
“Fhuair sinn an dalladh o na bha a-staigh,” ors’ ise, “nuair a ràine sinn an taigh an oidhche roimhe agus a-muigh na a-mach, cha ghabh thu stòiridh dhuinn tuilleadh ach na ghabh.”
Agus dhealaich mise rithe.
Tha cuimhne agam air trip a thàinig dròbh mòr a mhuinntir ceann shuas na dùthchadh à Creag Ghoiridh agus thàinig iad dhan taigh againn fhìn. Well, bha mi fhìn aig an fhodradh san àm an cuala mi an noise aca mar gum biodh deoch is gnothach orra. Bha deoch aca cuideachd. Rinn mi a’ fodradh co-dhiù, ’ille, ’ios fhuair mi a h-uile sìon air dòigh mun dàine mi a-staigh. Bha iad a’ rirachadh bhotail ann a shin agus fhuair mi fhin pleadhagan matha dhan bhotal a bh’ aca. Agus shuidh iad aig biadh.
“Leòra,” orsa mi fhìn, “ann an deireadh, nuair a bha iad gus bhith ullamh dhan bhiadh, tha mi cearta coma,” orsa mi fhin, “ged a ghabhainn stòiridh bheag dhuibh.”
Agus theann mi air an stòiridh agus bha an stòiridh ag obair fad na h-oidhcheadh is cha robh rathad aca air falbh. Cha robh rathad aca air falbh. Bha an stòiridh ag obair fad na h-oidhcheadh. Bha dramannan a’ dol mun cuairt agus bha a’ ghrian air èirigh pìos an làr-na-mhàireach mun do dh’fhalbh duine dheth na bh’ ann a shin.
Sin agad an obair a bhiodh agam-sa daonnan, daonnan ag innseadh sgeulachdan. Chan ann a-staigh idir ach ann an iomadach àite. Taigh sam bith as a rachainn dh’fheumainn stòiridh a ghabhail dhaibh. Ghearrainn goirid i, nam biodh cabhag orm fhìn. Ach mura biodh, bhiodh i cho fada is a ghabhadh i a bhith agus aon fhacal cha bhiodh air a thoir’ aiste. Bha mi glè mhath dheth fad na h-oidhcheadh a bha siud, nuair a thàinig na gillean à Creag Ghoiridh. Bha deoch gu leòr aig na gillean agus bha latha breàgha, soilleir aca a’ dol dhachaigh is a h-uile duine gam faicinn agus iad air èirigh mun cuairt uile gu lèir gus an d’ràinig iad na taighean. Dh’fhaighneachd iad nuair a ràinig iad na taighean cò às a thàinig iad na cà robh iad. Dh’innis iad facal air an fhacal mar a dh’èirich dhaibh agus mar a chaidh iad a thaigh Aonghais Bharraich agus gun do theann e air na sgeulachdan.
Bha mi trip eile shìos aig ceann shìos na dùthchadh agus bha gobha ann a shineach is bha e anabarrach titheach air sgeulachdan. Theann mi air innseadh stòiridh dha is sinn ri taobh gàrraidh ri taobh an rathaid mhòir. Bha mi ag innseadh na stòiridh dha is theann duine is duine air tighinn agus mu dheireadh, bha mi a’ creidsinn gun robh aon leth-cheud duine mun cuairt orm ag èisdeachd na sgeulachd. Chum mi iad sineach gu dubh bheul na h-oidhcheadh, feadhainn a bha a’ dol a dh’ iarraidh bheothaichean tràth air an fheasgar. Bha iad ann a shineach gus an robh seachd dubhar dhan oidhche ann ri taobh a’ ghàrraidh. Agus cha do chuir mi finish air an sgeulachd sin riamh. Sin agad sgeulachd bu mhotha a ghabh mi. Bha mi airson an cumail agus bha mòran de sheana daoine agus de chailleachan ann. Agus dhealaich mise rithe.
Well, tha aon rud math agam ri innseadh dhuibh mu dheidhinn gille a thug mi dhachaigh agus ’s ann o dheagh dhaoine a bha e ged a bha e glè chruaidh air a mhàthair a dhealachadh ris. Bha mòran cloinneadh aice. Cha robh fhios aice gu diamar a bheireadh i ron t-saoghal iad. Agus fhuair mo phiuthar a-mach gun robh i airson duine dhan chloinn a thoir’ seachad for good. Well, smaointich i orm-sa math gu leòr, gum bithinn glè thoilichte an gille a ghabhail. ’S e gille a bh’ ann. Cha robh e bliadhna idir a dh’aois an uair sin. Agus bha an duine aice as an arm is cha robh fhios aice on t-saoghal mhòr co-dhiù bha e beò na marbh. Cha robh i a’ faighinn guth air. Sin agaibh àm a’ Chogaidh Mhòir, nuair a bha an Cogadh Mòr ann ron fhear a bh’ ann an seo. Ach, co-dhiù, sgrìobh i ’ugam-sa dhachaigh am bithinn air a shon agus sgrìobh mi ’uice gu luath.
“Faigh an gille,” orsa mis’, “agus togaidh sinn e,” orsa mi fhìn, “cho math ’s is urrainn duinn a dhèanamh. ’S e sin,” orsa mi fhìn, “ma gheibh sinn dhuinn fhìn e.”
Dh’fhalbh ise far an robh am boireannach. Agus ’s e a bana-mhaighstir a dh’innis dhi mu dheidhinn a’ phàisde a bh’ ann an seo. Chaidh i fhèin le a casan far an robh am boireannach agus bha i dìreach làn-leagte a thoir’ seachad. Fhuair sinn an gille sin agus gu dearbha, gu dearbha, ’s e fìor ghille math a th’ ann. Tha e a-nist pòsda còmhla ruinn. Tè a mhuinntir Bharraigh a tha aige de fhìor nighean ghasda agus o dheagh dhaoine, nighean le Ruairidh MacGilleathain nach maireann à Eòiligearraidh agus ’s e fior fìor bhoireannach math a th’ innte. Chan eil iongnadh ged a bhiodh i math. Bu mhath a h-athair agus a màthair agus a cuideachd gu lèir. Chan eil i aon ghreim nas fheàrr na an gille. Tha an gille cho math ri gille a ghabhas a bhith. Agus bi mathair a’ ghille sin a’ tighinn a choimhead orm. Is suarach an ùine – chan eil ach seachdain o dh’fhalbh i às an taigh an dèidh a bhith air holidays. Bha i colla-deug na fichead latha còmhla ruinn. Agus ’s e fìor dheagh bhoireannach a bh’ innte. Agus sin agaibh an aon rud a b’ fheàrr a rinn mise riamh, an gille sin fhaighinn. Esan a tha a’ dèanamh na h-obrach a niste. Chan eil mise ach a’ coiseachd an-dràsta is a-rithist a’ dol timcheall air caoraich is air gnothach dhen t-seòrsa sin air mo shocair. Tha mi air fàs lapach. ’S ann a sìor fhàs lapach a bhios mi. Agus Dia Mòr gar beannachadh, duine sam bith a tha gan èisdeachd.
[Chuir Aonghas crìoch air sgeul a bheatha fhèin an-diugh, 23/VIII/’50. Thachair mi air Aonghas sa Mhàrt, 1947. Riamh on uair sin tha mi a’ sgrìobhadh naidheachd is sgeulachd bhuaithe. Tha iomradh air anns na leabhraichean cinn lae agam ò Mhárt 1947 gu ruige seo. Bi mi ag obair leis greis mhath fhathast, tha mi an dòchas. C[alum]. M[aclean]].
11. The Stories
I was once one night watching over a cow that was going to give birth and I was back and forth, in and out. And the cow gave birth. I prepared the cow in any case and there was a drove of men in, two or three young lads, you see:
“Well, lads,” I said, “I don’t mind if I relate a wee story to you all here and you’ll be very pleased going home tonight once you’ve heard it.”
“Oh, very good,” said all of them, “let me hear it.”
I began the story and I started on them and the story which I told, Oh, it was a big, big, long one. I started on the story in any case and the lads really enjoyed the story.
“There’s no word,” they said, “about looking after the cow now.”
“Oh! no,” I said. “I think it will buck up at any rate between two or three o’clock in the morning.”
“Do you expect,” they asked, “that we’ll be in your company until then?”
“Oh! well,” I said, “you’ll stay a while in any event until the story is finished.”
But before the story was finished it was six o’clock in the morning and:
“You may now go home,” I said, “and the cow was cleaned and it was all right. It’s a long time since she gave birth. But you’ll get food before you that you won’t have to eat when you go home.”
And I had the lads together with me all night until our cow was all right. They went home in the morning. I was another night in and it was only myself, my wife and my sister, Mary Anne. Two old women came to our house, fairly old women. They were talking hither and thither and they asked me to tell them a wee story.
“By the books! since every one here’s a woman but me,” I said, “I don’t mind if I tell a wee, neat, nice story.”
“Mind,” one of them said, “that it’s not too long.”
“It won’t be, indeed,” I said.
I began the story and I was telling the story and the women enjoyed the story terribly well. I was telling the story and then tea came round and the women got tea.
“I’ll not take tea at all,” I said, “until the story is finished so that I won’t keep the women too late.”
Eleven o’clock came and went and then midnight and the story was still not finished. One o’clock came and the story was still not complete. They enjoyed the story so much that they couldn’t keep away until they had got to the very end of the story. But in any case I was telling the story. Five o’clock in the morning came and the story was still not finished. And the sun was rising on the morrow when the story was finally finished.
“Well, indeed,” said one of the women, “that was a wee story, but as long as it was we couldn’t leave until we had found out what happened at the very end. And we may now go home and we don’t need a lamp or a torch or anything else but Solas nan Cràst [moonlight?]. The light is as bright as if it was midday.”
And they came in a week’s time after that and I was in:
“Will I tell you a wee story tonight?”
“Indeed, no,” she said.
“We were lambasted by those at home,” she said, “when we got back home the other night and whether in or out, you’ve not to tell us another story ever more.”
And I parted from it.
I remember one occasion when a big drove of people from the north of this country [i.e. island], from Creagorry that came to our own house. Well, I was at feeding fooder at the time and I heard their noise as if they had been drinking and they were on some business or another. They had drink as well. I made some fodder in any case, laddie, and I got everything ready before I came back in. They were sharing a bottle and I got a good drop of the bottle they had. And they sat down at their food.
“By the books,” I said, “at the end, when they were finished with their food, I don’t mind at all if I tell you a wee story.”
And I began telling the story and and the story lasted all night and they had no way of leaving. They had no way of leaving. The story lasted all night. There were drams going round and the sun was newly rising the next day when the last of the men left.
There you have the type of work I was always always at: telling stories. Not at all at home but in many places. Any house that I would enter I would have to tell a story to them. I would cut it short if I was in a hurry but if I wasn’t then I would make is as long as I could and not one word would be left out of it. I was in good form all night, when the lads came from Cregorry. The lads had plenty drink and they had a beautiful, bright day going home and everyone saw them reach their houses as they were getting up. They asked when they got home where they had come from or where they were. They told them word for word what had happened to them and how they had gone to Angus Barrach’s house and how he had began telling stories.
On another occasion I was down at the other end of the island and there was a smith who was especially keen on stories. I began telling stories to him and we were beside a wall by the side of the highway. I was telling the story to him and one after another they started to crowd around and, at last, I believe there was around fifty folk surrounding me who were listening to the story. I kept them there until it started to darken at nightfall, a few were going to fetch cattle early in the evening and they were there until it had turned completely dark by the wall. And I never even finished telling that story. That was the longest story that I ever told. I wanted to keep going and there were many old men and women present. And I parted from it:
Well, I have one good thing to tell you about a lad I took home and he came from good folk although he was very harsh on his mother who had been separated from him. She had many children. She didn’t know how she was going to see them through the world. And my sister found out that she wanted to give away one of her children for good. Well, she thought of me right enough and that I would be very pleased to take the lad. He was an infant boy and he wasn’t even a year old at that time. And her husband was in the army and she had no idea at all in this great world if he was alive or dead. She didn’t get any word about him. That was at the time of the Great War, when the Great War was on before the present one [WWII]. But in any case she wrote to me at home to ask if I would be up for it and I promptly wrote back.
“Get the lad,” I said, “and we’ll bring him up as best we can. That is if we get him for ourselves.”
She set off [Angus MacMillan’s sister] to see the woman. And it was the schoolmistress who told her about this infant. She walked all the way on her own two feet to see the woman and she was just ready and willing to give him away.
We got this lad and indeed, indeed, he was truly a good lad. He is now married and stays with us. He has a woman from Barra and she is a truly fine lassie and from good folk, a daughter of the late Roderick Maclean from Eoligarry and she is a truly, truly good woman. It’s not a surprise that she is so good. Her father and mother were good and all her relations. She is not one bit better than the lad. The lad is just as good as any lad could be. And the lad’s mother comes to see me. The time passes terribly – It’s only a week since she left the house after she had been on holiday. She was a fortnight or twenty days along with us. And she was a very good woman. And there you have the best thing that I had ever done, getting this land. He does the work now. I only walk now and again rounding up the sheep and things like that, just taking it easy. I’m weak now and getting progressively weaker. And Great God may He bless anyone who is listening.
[Angus finished telling his life story on this very day (23/8/1950). I first met Angus in March, 1947. Ever since then I have been transcribing anecdotes and stories from him. He is mentioned in my notebook diaries since March 1947. I will be working with him for a good while yet, I hope. C[alum] M[aclean]].
NFC 1180, pp. 301–548
Angus MacMillan, Benbecula, 1930s.
A previous blog offered a summary of Angus MacMillan’s life story. It may be divided into eleven sections of varying lengths. Here is offered the tenth part (NFC 1180, pp. 534–40) where MacMillan relates to Maclean how he met his wife. The opportunity has been taken to modernise the Gaelic orthography and also to offer a translation. A summary of this section may be given as follows;
MacMillan relates the background of how he came to marry his wife. The local priest persuaded him to marry his sweetheart before she had an opportunity to leave the island. MacMillan says that he greatly appreciated the advice that the priest gave him and that it had been a good decision to marry his sweetheart. MacMillan explained that she was also a MacMillan, Peigi nighean Aonghais Mhòir. They moved into MacMillan’s parents’ house. MacMillan relates that his own mother was a MacDonald who was from Benbecula and she died at seventy-five. MacMillan says that she was a good singer and had scores of old songs. His father belonged to Barra folk and never left Uist once he moved there. He died at the age of eighty-eight.
A’ bhean a bh’ agam an-diugh ann a sheo agus ’s e boireannach anabarrach fhèin gasda a bh’ ainnte na nighinn. Agus bha i glè òg air mo shon-sa. Cha robh i ach ceithir bliadhna fichead nuair a phòs mise i. Agus bha daoine a’ smaointinn nach pòsainn idir, a chionn nach robh annam ach duine aotrom nach robh a’ dol a phòsadh gu sìorraidh. Ach ghabh mi nòisean dhen nighinn a bha seo ach agus i glè, glè òg. Bhithinn a’ tarraing aiste an-dràsta is a-rithist ach mu dheireadh is mu dheoghaidh rinn sinn na cumhnannan airson pòsaidh. Agus ’s ann o dhaoine anabarrach fhèin math a bha i. Bha mi a’ smaointinn nach pòsainn i cho luath is a bha mi a’ smaointinn. Ach bha mi oidhche an dèidh a bhith a’ coimhead oirre air an rathad agus chuala mi fuaim bicycle a’ tighinn as mo dheaghaidh. Bhiodh e suas dìreach mu mheadhan-oidhche. Sheall mi is thug mi an aire dhan bhicycle math gu leòr a’ tighinn as mo dheaghaidh. Agus rug an seo am bicycle orm agus cò bha sin ach an sagart a bh’ againn as an àite.
“Seadh, Aonghais,” ors’ esan, “cò às mar seo?”
“O!” orsa mise, “bha mi air tighinn air cuairt.”
“O! seadh,” ors’ esan, “bha mi a’ cluinntinn gum bheil thu a’ tighinn air cuairt. Tha mi a’ cluinntinn,” ors’ esan, “gum bheil thu gu math tric air a’ chuairt sin cuideachd.”
“A bheil?” orsa mise.
Well, bha mi fhìn is an sagart gu math mòr aig a chèile, an sagart a bha seo agus: “Seadh,” ors’ esan, “a bheil dùil agad,” ors’ esan, “feum a dhèanamh dhan nighinn?”
“Well,” orsa mi fhin, “athair,” orsa mi fhìn, “tha làn dhùil ’m feum a dhèanamh dhith.”
“Well, tha làn chòir agad pòsadh as a’ mhionaid,” ors’ esan, “gun a bhith air an obair a tha sineach. Agus tha e a’ dèanamh marbhadh mòr ort,” ors’ esan, “gu nach eil thu a’ smaointinn sìon dheth agus mar is luaithe a nì thu e,” ors’ esan, “’s e dha do phrothaid e.”
“O!” ors’ mi fhìn, “tha mi a’ dol ga dhèanamh gun teagamh,” orsa mi fhìn, “ach chan eil dùil ’m a dhèanamh an-dràsta idir.”
“Cùine tha dùil agad a dhèanamh?”
“Well,” orsa mi fhin, “tha e fainear dhomh,” orsa mi fhìn, “tha e fainear dhomh,” orsa mi fhìn, “bliadhna eile a leigeil leis an nighinn.”
“Chan eil i ach òg. Chan eil i,” orsa mi fhin, “ach ceithir bliadhna fichead. Nam biodh i còig air fhichead,” orsa mi fhin, “bhiodh i an uair sin,” orsa mi fhin, “aig gliocas math.”
“Well,” ors’ esan, “gabh mo chomhairle,” ors’ esan, “agus pòs an nighean cho luath is a ghabhas dèanamh. Tha clann an latha an-diugh,” ors’ esan, “nuair a gheibh iad suas,” ors’ esan, “a dha is a trì is a ceithir is a còig air fhichead,” ors’ esan, “bi iad airson falbh às an seo,” ors’ esan. “Ach ma smaointich ise air falbh,” ors’ esan, “pòs thusa i agus chan fhalbh i idir.”
“An e sin ri ràdha,” orsa mi fhin, “gum pòs sinn as a’ mhionaid?”
“Well,” ors’ esan, “pòs cho luath is a ghabhas dèanamh,” ors’ esan. “Na leig gu còig bliadhna fichead idir i,” ors’ esan.
“Very well,” orsa mi fhìn, “tha mise ceart-a-coma,” orsa mi fhìn, “ged a dhèanamaid suas ar n-inntinn,” orsa mi fhìn, “air pòsadh, ar n-èigheach as an eaglais Didomhnaich-sa a’ tighinn,” orsa mise. “Agus,” orsa mise “bi ise deònach gu leòr,” orsa mi fhìn, “agus a cuideachd cuideachd.”
Seo mar a bha. Bha an sagart còmhla rium-sa riamh gus an tàine sinn an taigh.”
“Well,” ors’ esan, “Aonghais,” ors’ esan, “bi a h-uile sìon ceart,” ors’ esan.
“Bi,” orsa mi fhìn. “Thèid mise far a bheil an nigean a-màireach, feasgar a-màireach,” orsa mi fhìn. “Innsidh mi dhith” orsa mise, “gum bi sinn a’ rèiteach rithe, mi fhìn is i fhèin, Dihaoine a tha gar nionnsaigh.”
Seo mar a bha. Chaidh mi a choimhead air an nighinn an làr-na-mhàireach, an tè a th’ agam an-diugh, agus dh’innis mi dhith gum biodh rèiteach ann Dihaoine a bha gar ionnsaigh. Dh’innis mi dhith facal air an fhacal mar a thuirt an sagart. Agus thachair sin. Phòs mi fhìn is an nighean agus gu dearbha cha robh aithreachas riamh orm. Cha tàinig facal riamh idir eadarainn on latha a phòs sinn gon an latha an-diugh. Agus tha mi glè thoilichte as a’ chomhairle a thug an sagart orm. ’S ann às an Uachdar a bha i agus ’s e an aon sloinneadh a bh’ oirre agus a bh’ orm fhin, NicGilleMhaoil. ’S e Peigi nighean Aonghais Mhòir às an Uachdar a chainte rithe.
Bha mo mhàthair an uair sin, nuair a phòs mi a-staigh. Bha iad anabarrach fhèin toilichte an tè a phòs mi. ’S e bana-Chrìosdaidh a bha nam mhàthair, de bhoireannach beannaichte. Agus ’s e Crìosdaidh a bha nam athair cuideachd de dhuine math agus bha e anabarrach fhèin toilichte mar a thionndaidh mise suas. Cha b’ e siud a’ chiad tè a bh’ agam idir ach ’s e sin an tè a bh’ air a cuir a-mach dhomh. ’S e bana-Dòmhnallach a bha nam mhàthair an toiseach agus nuair a phòs i m’ athair, tha fhios agaibh, ’s e NicGilleMhaoil a bh’ innte. Agus ’s ann shuas mu dheas pìos mòr, ’s ann a phòs iad. Thàinig i a Bheinne na Faoghla agus rinn i dachaigh dhi fhèin agus dhà fhèin ann am Beinne na Faoghla. Cha do ghluais sinn riamh à Beinne na Faoghla fhathast is tha mi cinnteach nach gluais a h-aon againn. Bha mo mhàthair trì fichead is a còig deug a’ bàsachadh. Bha i cho fallain is a ghabhadh e a bhith fad na h-ùine riamh ach gun do ghabh i bochdainn ann a shiudach. Agus a’ bhochdainn a bh’ oirre ’s e tuiteam a rinn i agus leum an t-sròn aice agus chaill i mòran, mòran faladh ri linn an t-sròn aice a leum. Cha mhòr nach do thràigh i air fuil. Ach bha i bliadhnaichean beò as a dheaghaidh sin. Agus ’s ann innte a bha a’ bhana-òranaiche nach cuala sibh riamh a leithid, de sheann-òrain a bh’ ann a linn, chan ’il ’ios againne gu dè an linn a bha iad na m’ athair cuideachd. ’S ann a mhuinntir Bharraigh a bha m’ athair agus cha do ghluais e riamh à Uibhist aon uair is gun tàinig e a-nall ann. Agus bha e ceithir fichead agus a h-ochd deug a’ bàsachadh. Cha robh air m’ athair ach bàs nàdarra agus ’s e bàs nàdarra a fhuair mo mhàthair cuideachd.
The wife that I have today here is a very fine woman. And she was very young for me. She was only twenty-four years of age when I married her. And folk thought that I would not marry at all because I was only a giddy man that was never going to get married. But I took a fancy to this lassie and she was very, very young. I used to pull her leg now and again but latterly (and at last) we got engaged to get married. And she belonged to a very fine family. I thought I wouldn’t marry her quite as soon as I had first thought. But one night after I had been to see her I was on the highway and I heard the noise of a bicycle coming after me. It would’ve been nearly midnight. I looked and I noticed the bicycle well enough coming after me. And the bicycle reached me and who did it happen to be but the local priest.
“Aye, Angus,” he said, “where did you come from like this?”
“Oh!” I said, “I was going for a walk.”
“Oh! aye,” he said, “I had heard that you were going for a walk. I hear that you quite often go for a walk too.”
“I do?” I asked.
Well, I and the priest were quite friendly, this priest that was there and:
“Aye,” he said, “do you expect that you’ll have a need for the lassie?”
“Well,” I said, “father, I fully expect that she’ll do.”
“Well, you have every right to marry this very minute,” he said, “without working on that. And it’s really killing you that that aren’t thinking anything of it and the quicker you do then the better off you’ll be.”
“Oh!” he said, “I’m going to do it without any doubt whatsoever but I don’t expect to do it just now at all.”
“When do you expect to do that?”
“Well,” I said, “it’s my intention to let a year go by courting the lassie.”
“She’s only young and she’s only twenty-four years of age. If she had been twenty-five,” I said, “she would then have reached good wisdom.”
“Well,” he said, “heed my advice and marry the lassie as quickly as you can. Children today when they reach about twenty two, three, four or five wish to leave this place and before she thinks of leaving you’ll marry her and she won’t leave at all.”
“Is that to say,” I asked, “that we should marry this very minute?”
“Well,” he said, “marry as quickly as you can. Don’t let her reach twenty-five years of age at all.”
“Very well,” I said, “I don’t mind at all that you have made up our minds to marry and the banns in the church were proclaimed for this coming Sunday,” I said, “and she’ll be willing enough and her relations to boot.”
This is how things turned out. The priest kept me company until we reached home.”
“Well, Angus” he said, “everything will be right.”
“Yes,” I said. “I’ll go to see the lassie tomorrow, tomorrow afternoon. I’ll tell her that we’ll get engaged, myself and herself, this Friday coming.”
This is how things turned out. I went to see the lassie the next day, the wife that I have today, and I told her that we’d be engaged this coming Friday. I told her word for word what priest has said. And that happened. I married the lassie and indeed I’ve never regretted it. Not one word has ever came between us since the day we married until this very day. And I am very pleased with the advice the priest gave me.
She was from Uachdar and she had the same surname as I have, MacMillan. She was called Peggie daughter of Big Angus from Uachdar.
My mother was then, when I married, still staying at home. They were very pleased with the woman whom I married. My mother was a woman who was a devout and upright. And my father was also an upright, good man and he was terribly pleased by the way I turned out. She was not the first woman that I had at all but she was the woman that was destined for me. My mother was a MacDonald at first but when she married my father, you know, she became MacMillan then. And it was down south a good bit where they were married. She came from Benbecula and she made a home for herself and himself in Benbecula. We have not moved away from Benbecula yet and I’m sure that not one of us ever will. My mother was seventy-five when she died. She was as healthy as could be all that time but she finally took ill. And the illness caused her to fall and she broke her nose and she lost a lot, a lot of blood as she had a broken nose. She almost lost all of her blood. But she was many years alive after that. And she was such a singer that you have never heard to like of, old songs from previous centuries and we don’t know where they were from, nor did my father know. My father belonged to Barra folk and he never moved out of Uist once he came over. And he was eighty-eight years of age when he died. My father died a natural death and my mother also died a natural death as well.
NFC 1180, pp. 301–548
Angus MacMillan, Benbecula, 1930s.
Thursday, 26 June 2014
A previous blog offered a summary of Angus MacMillan’s life story. It may be divided into eleven sections of varying lengths. Here is offered the ninth part (NFC 1180, pp. 491–534) where MacMillan relates to Maclean a few stories including a rather hilarious trip that he took on the back of bull from Benbecula to Lochmaddy, North Uist. The opportunity has been taken to modernise the Gaelic orthography and also to offer a translation. A summary of this section may be given as follows;
9. A Trip to Lochmaddy
MacMillan volunteered to take the township’s bull for sale to Lochmaddy. He rode all the way there and describes his adventures in doing so. Many folk came out to view such an unusual scene as he rode the bull. On his approach to Lochmaddy a car stopped at his rear and passengers got out and took photographs of him riding the bull. MacMillan stayed overnight and reckons that it was one of his best trips. On another occasion, MacMillan accompanied a priest to Lochmaddy and he relates their trip and the dangerous crossing of the ford when they were both very nearly drowned. Around this time MacMillan was nearly killed by a rampaging bull but for the fact that he struck it on his horns whereby the bull did not regain consciousness for a few hours. On a fishing trip on the east side of Benbecula, a whale was spotted and on going out to investigate the crew was very nearly drowned. MacMillan then relates a story of his courtship days when he visited his sweetheart who eventually became his wife. Another anecdote follows where MacMillan describes a time when he in the company of other children climbed upon the chapel roof.
9. Turas gu Loch nam Madadh
Bha mi an siud trip eile is am baile again cruinn ann am meeting agus ’s ann airson tarbh a chur air falbh gon an t-sale air falbh a bha sinn às an àm. Cha robh duine ann a dh’fhalbh, a dh’aontaicheadh falbh idir.
“O! ’s ann a dh’fheumas sinn,” ors’ an ceannard a bh’ air an ceann, “feumaidh sinn croinn a chur a-mach agus an dithis air an tig an ceann, ’s e iad a’ dh’fheumas falbh leis an tarbh.”
Agus cha togar ach dà chrann.
Rinneadh seo agus gu tubaisteach ’s ann orm fhìn a thàinig fear dhiubh agus thàinig am fear eile air duine eile a bha air ceann a-muigh a’ bhaile. Well, cha robh comas air. Cha robh comas air co-dhiù ach dh’fheumamaid falbh. Bha an tarbh ri falbh a-màireach airson gum biodh e ron mhail ann a Loch nam Madadh an earair. Bha astar mòr, mòr againn ri dhol agus ’s ann air an tràigh mheadhan-latha a dh’fheumamaid falbh. Ach, co-dhiù, rinneadh deiseil airson an falbh an làr-na-mhàireach agus chuireadh ròpannan air an tarbh agus dh’fhalbh an dithis againn ri dhol an ruigeamaid a’ chiad fhadhail. Ràine sinn an fhadhail agus, Moire, bha trì tairbh eile a’ falbh à Beinne na Faoghla ach sinne an fheadhainn mu dheireadh a bha a’ falbh. Chaidh càch a-null romhainn. Ach, co-dhiù, ràine sinn an fhadhail. Thug mise air an fhear eile a bha còmhla rium:
“Cuir thusa dhìot do bhrògan,” orsa mise, “agus bheir thu leat an ròpa a-null romhad agus bi an tarbh a’ falbh as do dheaghaidh agus cuiridh mise dhìom an uair sin iad.
Seo mar a bha. Chuir esan dheth a bhrògan. Nuair a ràine sinn bruaich na fadhlach, stad mise agus theann mi fhìn air cur dhìom mo bhrògan. Chuir mi a’ chiad bhròg dhìom agus an stocainn agus, m’ eudail do chridhe, rinn an tarbh strike ann am meadhan na fadhlach agus às an sin cha tigeadh e. Thionndaidh e mun cuairt agus bha an gille a’ slaodadh ris. B’ fheudar dha na ròpannan a ligeil às mu dheireadh. Well, bha bròg orm-sa is bròg dhìom agus cha d’rinn mi ach tarraing as deaghaidh an tairbh. Bha sinn coma dhan t-saoghal ach a chumail on taobh as an robh e a’ tighinn gon na fadhlach. Ach bha sinn ga cheapadh co-dhiù. Chuir sinn an seo a-mach air linnidh mhòir, dhomhainn e. As an àm an tàinig e air tìr air an taobh eile chaidh sinn na bhad agus rug mise air an ròpannan agus thug sinn mun cuairt e. As an siud cha tigeadh e tuilleadh. Chum sinn air an uair sin. Cha robh orm-sa ach bròg orm is bròg dhìom.
“Dè a-nist,” orsa mi fhìn, “chan eil rathad agam-sa air a’ bhròg eile a chur dhìom,” ors’ esan, “ach stada’ sinn ann a sheo is cuiridh sinn dhinn.”
Chuir mi dhìom mo bhròg co-dhiù agus thruis mi mo bhriogais suas gon an glùineadh agus thug mi leam a’ bhròg eile agus an stocainn. Bha sinn a’ cumail romhainn co-dhiù gus an tàine sinn air tìr ann an àite a bha eagalach goirt le morghain. O! nuair a chaidh mi fhìn air tìr bha na morghain a’ dol an sàs, is iad cho biorach, am sàs as na casan agam.
“A! Dhia,” orsa mise, “cha ruig mise an taobh thall gu siorraidh. Chan urrainn duinn stad. Tha clach ann a sheo,” orsa mi fhìn, “is thèid mi air muin an tairbh. Closa sinn a-staigh ris a’ chloich ad agus chan urrainn domh-sa a dhol seachad air an rud a bha seo.”
“Ma leagas e mi, leagadh e mi, ach feucha’ mise air a mhuin. Cum thusa teann an ròpa ris an fhear eile.” Bha esan air thoiseach.
Chum e teann an ròpa is siud mise seachad air druim an tairbh. Cha b’ urrainn dà leum a ghearradh leis cho goirt is a bha an t-àite le metal cruaidh biorach. Ach mun d’fhuair e seachad an t-àite sin bha e air a sheasanachadh. Cha do mhovaig e riamh is chaidh sinn seachad air dà fhadhail eile mun dàine sinn gu tìr air an taobh eile dhan àite a bha seo. Ach, co-dhiù, ràine sinn Càirinnis agus thug sinn suas an tarbh a dh’ ionnsaigh an dorais mhòir agus mise air a mhuin, daoine a’ coimhead thall is a-bhos: am fear a bh’ air muin an tairbh, agus gu dearbha ’s e iongnadh a bh’ ann. Cheangaileadh ri cloich mhòir ann a shin e, an tarbh agus cha leigeadh an t-eagal leotha a dhol a-mach air an doras, na bh’ ann. Na bha a-staigh, bha a-staigh. Dh’iarr sinn ar dinnear ann a shin agus fhuair sinn ar dinnear agus dram agus thug sinn linn leatha botail an urra gus nam biodh feadhainn a’ tachairt ruinn gum faigheadh iad dram. Mura biodh, bhiodh e againn fhìn. Leum mise air muin an tairbh as a’ mhionaid aig an doras agus dh’fhalbh an tarbh. Bha mi ag iarraidh air an fhear eile a dhol treis nam àite agus gu rachainn fhìn a choiseachd. Cha rachadh e a-muigh na a-mach nam àite. Tha mi cinnteach nach fhaca iad a leithid a dh’iongnadh riamh on uair sin is a chunnaic iad an latha sin. Cha robh ach cailleach ’s gach bodach is gach nighean is gach eile a bha ri faicinn nach fhaca, air na cnuic a’ coimhead oirnn. Ràine sinn Clachan a’ Ghluip. Bha sin trì mìle o Chàirinnis a dh’ ionnsaigh a’ Chlachain. Bha mòran sluaigh ann a shin air an rathad mhòr agus a h-uile duine riamh gam aithneachdainn:
“A Shiorrachd, seall Aonghas Mòr air muin an tairbh. Nach b’ e am balach e agus nach e a threin e gu taigh[?] mu bheil e cho socair sin an-dràsta.”
Fhuair sinn clear is ann a shineach agus bha sinn a’ tighinn. Cha robh duine a bha ris on taighe nach robh a-mach a’ coimhead oirnn. Bha sinn a’ cumail romhainn. Chum sinn romhainn fad an t-siubhail gus an d’ràine sinn àite ris an canadh iad Langais.
“Well, tha an tarbh lachdhann,” orsa mi fhìn, “a’ fàs sgìth agus ’s fheàrr dhuinn rest a leigeil leis agus tha mi cinnteach gum bheil pàthadh air agus gabha’ sinn fhìn deagh refreshmen’ ann a sheo.”
Thugadh a-staigh a’ chuaraidh an tarbh co-dhiù agus bha a’ chuaraidh a bha sineach, Dhia! bha lòn mòr domhainn ann. Chaidh an tarbh a-mach aon na broinneadh agus theann e air òl deoch agus dh’òl e a dhìol ann a shin. Thill e a-staigh agus laigh e an ceann treiseadh. Thug sinn fhìn làmh air fear dhe na flasgaichean agus cuimhnichibh cha do mhair e fada. Thuirt am fear eile:
“Bi an deoch gar dalladh ma ruig sinn Loch nam Madadh is chan ’il ’ios gu diamar a dh’èireas dhuinn.”
“Fhalbh thusa. Leig thusa eadar mise agus sin,” orsa mi fhìn. “Bi sinn gu neodha, naomh ann an leabaidh a-nochd,” orsa mise, “agus càch a-muigh air a’ chnoc, ma ghabhas e dèanamh.”
Bha càch romhainn uile gu lèir le trì tairbh eile agus dithis leis a h-uile fear dhiubh. Ach, co-dhiù, mun d’ràine sinn Loch nam Madadh, àite ris an can Druim Seallastan mun do theann sinn air dìreadh a’ bhruthaich agus mise air muin an tairbh. Bha mise air muin an tairbh riamh fhathast a dh’fhalbh mi às an Fhadhail à Tuath chuala sinn srann aig machine a’ tighinn as ar deaghaidh:
“Cha ’reid mi fhìn,” orsa mi fhìn, “nach eil machine a’ tighinn as ar deaghaidh an seo. Seall as do dheaghaidh.”
“Tha i dìreach gus bhith againn.”
“O! Dhia, ma-thà,” orsa mi fhìn, “’s fheàrr dhomh-sa tighinn far muin an tairbh.”
Leum mi sìos far muin an tairbh agus chuala sinn fìdeag agus sheall mi fhìn. Cò bha seo ach an coachman a bh’ aig fear na hotel ann an Loch nam Madadh agus aon cheathrar na còìgnear de thauris innte:
“An tèid thu,” ors’ esan, “air muin an tairbh a-rithist agus gun tarraing fear dha na bheil e seo do dhealbh?”
“An-dà, car sonnach[?] tèid,” orsa mi fhìn.
Thèid mise air a mhuin às a’ mhionaid.
“Very well,” orsa esan, “leig aghaidh an tairbh air a’ mhachine,” ors’ esan, “agus theirg air a mhuin,” ors’ esan.
“Ceart gu leòr,” orsa mise. “’S fheàrr dhut, a Dhonnchaidh,” orsa mi fhìn, “tionndadh mun cuairt leis an tarbh,” orsa mi fhìn, “gus gun tèid mise air muin an tairbh. Thathar a’ dol a tharraing an dealbh uileadh.”
Thionndadh an tarbh mun cuairt agus cha d’rinn mise sìon saoghalta ach leum seachad. Bha mi air a mhuin. Chuireadh camera rium as a’ mhionaid agus thàirneadh a dha na trì dhe na dealbhannan agus thug e dhomh aon chrùn de dh’airgead. Dh’fhaighneachd e dhìom:
“Càite a bheil thu a’ dol leis an tarbh?”
“Tha a Loch nam Madadh.”
“Chì mi an sin thu,” ors’ esan.
Agus leig sin seachad an coisde a bha sineach agus leum mise air muin an tairbh as a’ mhionaid. Cha chualas a leithid de ghàireachdraich riamh is a bh’ aig na daoine a bh’ ann a shin fhad ’s a bha iad nar sealladh. Ach chum sinn romhainn co-dhiù gus na ràine sinn Loch nam Madadh agus chaidh mi fhìn gu taigh caraide a bh’ ann a shin feuch a’ faighinn àite dhan tarbh ann. Bha mi a’ studaigeadh air an duine ceart gu leòr gum faighinn àite dhan tarbh. Gheibhinn àite dhomh fhìn is dhan ghille math gu leòr as an taigh ach nam faighinn àite dhan tarbh ’s e a b’ fheàrr is a b’ fheàrr. Ràine sinn an taigh co-dhiù agus O! bha an tarbh air fàs cho socair. Cha mhòr gum b’ urrainn dà ach ceum san uair a dhèanamh, ged a bha e gu math fresh nuair a dh’fhalbh e. Ach ràine sinn co-dhiù am beul dorchadh na h-oidhche. Dh’fhaighneachd mi fhìn am faigheamaid àite dhan tarbh gon a-màireach gus an tigeadh an stimear. “O!” ors’ esan, “chan eil àite agam-sa dhut,” ors’ esan. “Cha toil e a-staigh,” ors’ esan, “as a’ bhàthaich a th’ agam, air an doras. Chan eil ann ach doras ìseal, caol.”
“Saoil,” orsa mise, “am faigheamaid àite shìos mu Loch nam Madadh?”
“Dearbha,” ors’ esan, “feucha sinn. Feuch sinn aig Iain Tàillear. Tha mòran de shedaichean aig Iain Tàillear,” ors’ esan. “Ma gheibh duine air an t-saoghal e, gheibh thu e.”
Bha mi gu math eòlach air Iain Tàillear a bha seo. ’S e marsanta a bh’ ann.
“Very well,” orsa mi fhìn, “gabha’ sinn greim bithidh co-dhiù,” orsa mi fhìn, “agus feucha’ sinn sìos a Loch nam Madadh.”
Bha sin suas ri còrr is mìle ma ruigeamaid e.
“Ma bhios sinn a-muigh a-nochd,” orsa mi fhìn, “bi sinn bàthte.”
Ach, co-dhiù, dh’fhalbh sinn. Ghabh sinn ar biadh. Ghabh sinn dramannan. Bha flask làn againn agus ghabh sinn deagh dhram dhan fhlask a bha sin agus dh’fhàg sinn an còrr a-staigh. Chum sinn sìos romhainn gus an d’ràine sinn Iain Tàillear. O! cha robh Iain Tàillear a-staigh ach bha an gille ann. Rinn e toileachadh mòr rium fhìn.
“Dè an route air a bheil thu an-dràsta?”
“An route air a bheil mi an-dràsta, ’s ann a’ tighinn le tarbh a tha mi.”
“Tarbh?” ors’ esan.
“Seadh. Thàine mi ann a sheo feuch am faighinn àite bhuaibh-se feuch gon a-màireach gus an tigeadh an stimear.”
“A Shiorrachd,” ors’ esan, “nach bochd nach tàine tu an-dè.”
“Bha an shed a bh’ againne,” ors’ esan, “clear. Thàinig am bancair am beul na h-oidhche,” ors’ esan, “chan eil far uair an uaireadear,” ors’ esan, “a dh’ iarraidh àite dhan bhoin agus an shed aige fhèin nach robh e air dòigh ceart, mar bu chòir agus thug sinn àite dhan bhoin dha.”
“Is a bheil an shed cho mòr,” orsa mi fhèin, “agus gun dèan a’ bhò agus an tarbh an gnothach?”
“O! chan eil,” ors’ esan. “Tha e beag gu leòr,” ors’ esan, “airson na bà fhèin. Bha e dìreach math, math airson an tairbh. Ach nì mi seo riut,” ors’ esan. “Cha leig mi air falbh idir thu,” ors’ esan. “Tha stall falamh,” ors’ esan, “às a’ stable,” ors’ esan, “agus faodar an tarbh,” ors’ esan, “a chur dhan stall sin.”
“A bheil beothach eich ann?” orsa mise.
“O!” ors’ esan, “tha dà bheothach eich ann, beothach air gach taobh dhen stall.”
“Dearbha, cha dèan mise riut e,” orsa mise. “B’ fheàrr leam cus, cus a bhith nar diumb,” orsa mi fhìn, “fad na h-oidhche,” orsa mi fhìn, “na an tarbh a chur a-staigh,” orsa mi fhìn, “eadar dà each ma theannas noise sam bith mun cuairt agus gnogadh aig an tarbh le adhaircean, teannaidh breabadh,” ors’ esan, “agus cinnteach gu leòr gum bi na h-eich marbh ma yield an tarbh air neo an tarbh marbh ma yield na h-eich. Ach tha mi a’ toir’ mòran taing dhut,” orsa mi fhìn. “Feucha’ sinn sìos rathad Chearsabhagh. Tha e neònach leam,” orsa mi fhìn, “nach fhaigh sinn shed an sin. Bi e nas fhaisge air làimh.”
Dh’fhalbh sinn sìos rathad Chearsabhagh agus bha shed mòr, mòr aca ann a shineach. Bhiodh geòlachan ann, as am biodh còrr mhòr is dà fhichead geòla airson iasgairean a bh’ aca an àm an t-samhraidh.
“Thèid sinn, a Dhòmhnaill,” orsa mi fhìn, “gu shed nan geòlachan an toiseach. ’S iomadh h-uair,” orsa mi fhìn, “a bha beothach eich agam-sa ann an shed nan geòlachan agus ma tha e clear a-nochd,” orsa mi fhìn, “bi an tarbh ann.”
Ghabhadh gu shed nan geòlachan agus bha aon fhichead geòla air a cuir a-staigh ann a shin. Theann sinn air togail nan geòlachan suas air muin a chèile gus an tug sinn farsaingeachd gu leòr dhan tarbh. Chuireadh a-staigh e agus cheangaileadh an dala ball ri posta mòr a bha as a’ mheahan gus nach ruigeadh e air an doras, agus posta eile a bha a bhos faisg air an doras cheangail sinn am ball eile gus nach ruigeadh e air na geòlachan:
“Tha do dhìol farsaingeachd an sin agad, a laochain agus ’s math dhut a bhith ann,” orsa mise, “seach a bhith air a’ chala fad na h-oidhche.” Ghabh sinn a-null agus chaidh sinn dhan stàbla agus cò bh’ ann a shin ach an coachman a bh’ aig fear an taigh-sheinnse.
“A! well,” ors’ esan “’s ann a bha proud an fheadhainn a bh’ agam-sa an-diugh,” ors’ esan, “a’ tighinn. Chan fhaca iad riamh a leithid de shealladh agus a chunnaic iad,” ors’ esan, “thusa air muin tairbh.”
“Nam faiceadh iad ceart e. Nam faiceadh iad e,” orsa mi fhìn. “Nuair a bha e a’ feuchainn uile dhìcheall airson mo leagadh agus nach do leagadh idir mi agus a chum mi mi fhìn riamh air a mhuin,” orsa mi fhìn, “gus an robh e cho socair ris na h-eich a bh’ agad as a’ mhachine mu dheireadh agus na bu shochraiche. Sin nuair a bha e curs. Cha chumadh am fear a bha còmhla rium ruith ris. B’ fheudar dha greim fhaighinn air iorball air.”
“O! chì iad fhathast thu,” ors’ esan.
“Tha mi an dòchas nach fhaic,” orsa mise, “ach dad ort,” orsa mise. “Am faigh mi àite dhan tarbh timcheall an seo?”
“Tha mi a’ smaointinn gum bheil shedachan gu leòr an seo,” ors’ esan, “ach,” ors’ esan, “tha aona seachdain dheug,” ors’ esan, “o nach robh mise an seo gon a-nochd, agus,” ors’ esan, “chan eil sìon a dh’fhios ’m gu diamar a tha cùisean. Ach ma tha àite ann,” ors’ esan, “gheibh thusa e.”
Theann e air faighneachd de ghille a bh’ ann a shin as an stàbla dè bha as an t-shed ad. Bha an gille ag innseadh dè bha san t-shed ad.
“Well,” ors’ esan, “Aonghais,” ors’ esan, “tha mi a’ smaointinn nach tug sinn na geòlachan uile a-staigh,” ors’ esan. “Bi àite gu leòr as an t-shed mhòr.”
“Tha còrr is fichead geòla a-staigh.”
“A! ma-thà, cuiridh sinn air muin a chèile iad agus bi an tarbh gu sàbhailte is bi na geòlachan gu sàbhailte.”
“Tha e dìreach am broinn an t-shed agus,” ors’ esan, “chan èirich sìon dha na geòlachan. Sheift sinn suas na geòlachan.”
“Carson, a mhic an fhir-sa,” ors’ esan, “a bha thu a’ faighneachd dhìom-sa cà fhaighea’ tu àite agus gun d’fhuair thu fhèin àite?”
“Well, bha fhios agam,” orsa mi fhìn, “gum b’ e làn-di-mo-bheatha an tarbh a chur a-staigh ann a shin. Is iomadh h-uair a bha each agam ann roimhe is an stàbla làn agus bha e a cheart cho math as an t-shed ad,” orsa mi fhìn, “agus a bhiodh e as an stàbla a b’ fheàrr a bhiodh air an t-saoghal, ach ’s e biadh,” ors’ esan, “a tha mi ag iarraidh dhan tarbh an-dràsta.”
“Co-dhiù,” ors’ esan, “is fheàrr leat arbhar,” ors’ esan, “na feur”
“Gabha’ mi arbhar,” orsa mise. “Tha e air fautic[?] mhòr a dhèanamh,” orsa mise, “agus tha e air aon ochd mìle fichead a dhèanamh a choiseachd an-diugh mura h-eil còrr agus bi e gu math sgìth,” orsa mi fhìn, “agus ’s e an rud a chumas a chrìdhe ris an dèidh mi fhìn a charraigeadh,” orsa mi fhìn, “à Beinne na Faoghla a bharrachd air an sin.”
“A! well, well,” ors’ esan, “cha do rinn duine riamh,” ors’ esan, “an rud a rinn thu.”
“O! mura d’rinn,” orsa mi fhìn, “cha bhi agaibh ri ràdha tuilleadh nach d’rinn mise e.”
Ach, co-dhiù fhuair mi an t-arbhar dhan tarbh:
“Thèid sinn a-niste a-staigh,” orsa mi fhìn, “agus gabhaidh sinn dram.”
“Thèid,” ors’ esan. “Gu dearbha, gu dearbha, seasaidh mise mo làmh gun teagamh,” ors’ esan, “air sàillibh a’ sealladh a chunna mi an-diugh.”
Agus ’s e gille Sgitheanach a bha seo. Chaidh sinn a-staigh co-dhiù. Fhuair esan an t-òrdan:
“Gabhaibh mo leisgeul,” ors’ esan. “Tha mise a’ dol a-mach,” ors’ esan, “mionaid bheag,” ors’ esan, “ach bi mi a-staigh an ceartuair.”
Cha robh, a m’ eudail, ach ghabh e mun cuairt is chaidh e gon a’ front agus dh’innis e gun robh am fear a bh’ air muin an tairbh an sin:
“Cà bheil e?” ors’ a h-uile duine riamh.
“Tha e shìos,” ors’ esan, “ann a leithid seo an rùm a tha ris a’ bhar.”
Fhuair mise mo dhramannan ann a shin agus na bha còmhla rium na phàigh ar trip dhuinn glè mhath agus bha sinn ann a shineach ag òl fad na h-oidhcheadh.
Ach theann stoirm is uisge mun do dh’fhalbh sinn on hotel a bha sin. Cha mhòr nach do bhristeadh a h-uile bàta a bha ri acaire. Bha sinn ag obair fad na h-oidhche air a’ bhàta aig a’ ghille a bha còmhla ruinn agus fhuair sinn a tarraing a-staigh gu tìr na ceithir an làr-na-mhàireach air sinkeadh as a’ bhogh de bhàtaichean agus nuair a chaidh sinn an làr-na-mhàireach sìos gon na sgothadh aig a’ ghille bha i gu neo naomh air tìr.
“A! well,” orsa mise, “bha i seo gu sàbhailte co-dhiù.”
“O! tha,” ors’ esan, “ach tha mi ag ionndrainn a ceithir na còig eile dhe na sgothan,” ors’ esan, “a bh’ ann an seo,” ors’ esan, “nach eil sgeul orra.”
Agus theann iad air cuinneachadh a-nuas. Bha na sgoithean sin, bha tè dhiubh air a bristeadh air a’ chladach agus bha càch air lìonadh agus air a dhol fodha. Na siùil a bh’ innte, bha iad air na cladaichean agus na ràimh, gach sìon a bha nam broinn. Cha robh sìon annta. Agus ’s e latgha[?] mòr, mòr a bh’ ann an latha sin a’ togail na sgoithean agus deoch mhòr cuideachd. Thogadh gu sàbhailte an fheadhainn a bha fon mhuir. Cha do dh’èirich dad dhaibh ach gun deacha’ iad fodha. Bha an stimear gun tighinn fhathast. Chaidh sinn an uair sin dròbh againn suas dhan taigh-sheinnse agus fhuair sinn gabhail againn an sin agus deoch gu leòr mar a smodadh sinn:
“Feumaidh sinn,” ors’ mise, “dram a thoir’ a dh’ ionnsaigh nan gillean bochda a tha shìos aig a’ chladach mun tig an stimear. ’S ann is fheàrr dhut,” orsa mi fhìn, “leth-bhotal a thoir’ dhomh,” orsa mi fhìn, “gun toir mi dhaibh dram.”
Fhuair mi a leth-bhotal sin an asgaidh. Nuair a thàinig an stimear, dh’fhalbh sinn leis an tarbh agus eallach arbhair air ar muin. Agus chuir sinn a-staigh an tarbh dhan stimear agus dh’fhan sinn as an stimear riamh gus an d’ràinig sinn na Ceallan. Thàine sinn a-mach às na Ceallan ann a shineach agus bha sinn ann an Eilean Fhlodaigh fad na h-oidhcheadh. Sa mhadainn làr-na-mhàireach rinn sinn bundle airson an taighe agus sin agaibh mar a dh’èirich dhomh-sa a thaobh an tairbh. Fhuair mi trip anabarrach fhèin math is dhealaich mise rithe
Bha mi an siud trip ann an Loch nam Madadh, an trip-sa còmhla ris an t-sagart. Bha aige ri dhol uair is uair gu ruige Taigh nam Bochd an Loch nam Madadh. Ach an trip a bha seo co-dhiù ’s ann as a’ gheamhradh a bh’ ann agus ’s e duine a bha bochd. Dh’fheumadh e sagart. Thug e brath dhomh fhìn:
“Well,” ors’ esan, “feuma tu falbh còmh’ rium an-diugh,” ors’ esan.
“Càite?” orsa mise.
“A Loch nam Madadh.”
“O! glè mhath,” orsa mise. “Tha mi glè thoilichte.”
“Falbhaidh mi còmh’ ruibh.”
“Cha tig sinn a-nochd.”
“Tha mi ceart-a-coma gad nach tigeadh na an ath-oidhch’.”
Dh’fhalbh sinn co-dhiù agus bha an fhadhail tioram romhainn nuair a ràine sinn:
“Well,” ors’ an sagart, “chan fhaca mi an fhadhail riamh cho tioram is a tha i an ceartuair.”
“Dhia, ma ruig sinn Fadhail an Eilein Shlignich,” orsa mi fhìn, “chan eil teagamh nach bi lìonadh innte. Tha e dìreach, tha e cridhe a’ mhuir tràigh,” orsa mise, “mura h-eil e seachad air.”
Ach, co-dhiù, chum sinn romhainn a-null air ar socair. Bha sinn a’ toir’ trotan beag às. Chaidh sinn seachad air a’ Chaiginn. Thàine sinn ro Fhadhail an Eilein Shlignich.
“Tha a’ lìonadh an seo,” orsa mise.
“Saoil a bheil?” ors’ esan.
“O! tha,” orsa mi fhìn. “Tha sinn air an taobh a tuath dhan sgeir,” orsa mise. “Tha e a’ lìonadh gu mòr air an taobh-sa.”
Ghabhadh an taobh a tuath co-dhiù is fhuair sinn a-null oirre sineach. Cha robh i domhainn sam bith.”
“Chan eil mòran lìonaidh an seo idir. Tha beagan ann,” orsa mi fhìn, “ach cumaidh sinn romhainn.”
“Bi barrachd,” orsa mi fhìn, “ann an Sruthan na Comraich.”
Mar a thuirt b’ fhìor. Bha barrachd cus, cus, bha i na bu doimhne ann an Sruthan na Comraich. Ràine sinn Càirinnis. Chum sinn romhainn agus ràine sinn Loch nam Madadh. Chaidh an sagart a Thaigh nam Bochd agus chunnaic e an duine bochd a bha seo. Cha robh e ro-bhochd idir. Cha robh am Bàs air idir. Bha oidhche mhòr againn an oidhche sin agus an làr-na-mhàireach bha an sagart gu math fada gun fhalbh. Ach, co-dhiù, thuirt e rium fhìn:
“Feumaidh sinn falbh, Aonghais,” ars’ esan.
“Ceart gu leòr,” orsa mise.
“Dhìochuimhnich mi an gnothach,” ors’ esan, “nach do dh’fhalbh sinn na bu tràithe, ach bi sinn tràth gu leòr.”
Bha coltas gruamach a’ tighinn oirre is i air seifteadh ris an iar. Ged a bha latha breàgha ann an-dè, cha robh e cho breàgha an-diugh. Ach, co-dhiù, dh’fhalbh sinn agus mun do ràine sinn Càirinnis bha an oidhche ann. Ach bha a’ ghealach ann. Ràine sinn Càirinnis agus ghabh sinn dram ann a shin. Agus chaidh esan suas mar a b’ àbhaist dhà agus fhuair mise dram agus fhuair mi flask. Thàinig esan a-nuas an sin agus dh’fhaighneachd e:
“A bheil thu deiseil?”
“Tha mi deiseil,” orsa mise.
“O! ro-mhath,” ors’ esan, “bitheamaid a’ falbh ma-thà, mas e is falbh dhuinn e.”
Dh’fhalbh sinn. Bha an fhadhail gu math. Chum sinn a-null romhainn gus an d’ràine sinn faisg air Fadhail an Eilein Shlignich agus thug sinn an aire do mhachine a’ tighinn nar coinneamh on deas. Cò bha sin ach Calum Tuathach agus e fhèin a’ falbh a’ dol a-null gu ruige Càirinnis. Dh’èibh sinn dha an robh e a’ tilleadh air ais:
“As a’ mhionaid,” ors’ esan, “nuair a dh’fhàgas mi am fear-sa,” ors’ esan, “air tìr ann an Càirinnis.”
“Ma-thà, beire’ sibh oirnn.”
“O! beiridh mi ort,” ors’ esan, “ma ruig sibh a’ Chaigeann. Bi sinn a-null còmhla tuilleadh.”
Ach theann an oidhche air fàs dorcha is air fàs dorcha is air fàs dorcha agus theann i air sileadh. Ach rinn an t-each co-dhiù a’ Chaigeann dheth. Thuirt mi fhìn ris an t-sagart: “Is fheàrr dhuinn fantail ann a sheo gus an tèid am meall seachad.”
“Hà,” ors’ esan, “on a rinn e cho math,” ors’ esan, “is gun tug e mach doras na Caiginn,” ors’ esan, “nì e pailt nas fheàrr,” ors’ esan, “an Fhadhail a thoirt a-mach.”
“Dhia,” orsa mise, “tha i gu math cruaidh air na chliathaich.”
“O! nì e an gnothach gun teagamh,” ors’ esan
“Very well,” orsa mi fhìn, “bi sin ceart gu leòr. Bi sinn a’ falbh.”
Dh’fhalbh sinn. Chaidh sinn a-null air a chèile struthan a bh’ ann. Ach ma chaidh theann an t-each air iarraidh na aghaidh an aghaidh na froiseadh. Bha mi fhìn a’ cur aoidheachd gun robh e a’ dol far a’ chùrsa agus bha mi a’ toir slaodadh beag air an t-srèin, air an dala tè dhiubh feuch an cumadh e faisg air a chùrsa agus i cho dorcha. Ach, co-dhiù:
“Well,” orsa mi fhìn, “tha còir againn air an fhadhail fhaicinn: càrnan na fadhlach an ceartuair ma thuairmse a rèir an t-astar a tha e air a dhèanamh agus an ùine a tha e air a thoir’ air.”
“Saoil a bheil?” ors’ esan.
“Tha. Chan eil càrnan ri fhaicainn na sgeir.”
Dè bha sineach air druim na h-outreach a’ cumail an iar. Ach rinn i an seo turadh agus chlear am meall a-mach gon an ear. Thog an t-each a cheann agus chrath e e fhèin agus thionnaidh e dìreach gon an ear.
“Dhia,” ors’ esan, “tha an t-each a’ dol iomrall. Tha e air a chùrsa a chall.”
“Chan eil e,” orsa mise. “’S ann a tha e ag iarraidh a chùrsa. Tha e an-dràsta,” orsa mi fhìn, “ann an àite nach robh e riamh.”
“A! chan eil,” ors’ esan, “ach tha e dìreach air a’ chùrsa a chall gu h-eagalach agus siud an cùrsa.”
“Ceart gu leòr,” orsa mi fhìn, “siud na reins agaibh. Ma tha sibh a’ smaointinn gum bheil mise agus an t-each ceàrr,” orsa mi fhìn, “dèanadh sibh-se tuilleadh.”
Thugadh na reins dhan t-sagart agus chum e roimhe air an iar. O! cha robh an t-each deònach falbh an iar idir:
“Ach stadaibh,” orsa mise. “Stadaibh mionaid bheag ann a sheo.”
Chuala mi fhìn fuaim aig a’ mhuir.
“Cluinnibh,” orsa mi fhìn, “fuaim a’ Chorrain a Tuath.”
“Saoil an e a th’ ann?” ors’ esan.
“Tha fhios agam-sa gur h-e th’ ann,” orsa mise. “Tha e a’ goil ann shin,” orsa mi fhìn. “Tha an làn a’ tighinn agus as a’ mhionaid,” orsa mi fhìn,” feuchamaid an ear,” orsa mi fhìn, “feuchamaid an ear,” orsa mi fhìn, “air neo ma thèid sinn an lùib sùganaich an seo,” orsa mi fhìn, “chan fhaicear gu bràth sinn.”
Ach air a’ route sin co-dhiù ràine sinn an Fhadhail ach cha b’ e an t-àite ceart e. Theann sinn air coiseachd suas ri taobh na fadhlach agus thug sinn an aire dhan eilean mhòr a bha an iar air an fhadhail agus:
“Tha eilean mòr an siud,” orsa mi fhìn, “agus cinnteach gu leòr,” orsa mi fhìn, “siud an t-eilean a tha air taobh a bhos na fadhlach, air an taobh-sa dhan fhadhail. Tha eilean eile air an taobh thall dhe sin,” arsa mise, “air an taobh eile. Ach bha eilean beag an sin,” orsa mise, “agus feucha’ sinn ri dhol ann. Tha an làn a’ tighinn gu luath as an fhadhail.”
Ràinigeadh an t-eilean co-dhiù a bha seoach agus chaidh sinn a-mach air luingidh a bh’ ann a shin a bha sgràthail ach chum mise an sagart tioram. Chaidh e air mo mhuin. Nuair a thàinig sinn às an linnidh sin, thàine mise às a’ mhachine agus dhìrich sinn suas dhan eilean bheag, bhìdeach a bh’ ann a sheo. Cha robh ann ach fad an eich de ghlas ann agus cinnteach gu leòr gu rachadh e fodha.
“A! ’s fheàrr dhuinn falbh às an fhear-sa,” orsa mi fhìn, “agus thèid sinn dhan fhear mhòr ad,” orsa mi fhìn, “agus bi sinn sàbhailte às an fhear mhòr brith dè an làn a thig. Bi sinn sàbhailte ann. Cha bhi sinn sàbhailte às an fhear-sa idir.”
Ràinigeadh an t-eilean co-dhiù a bha seoach agus chaidh sinn a-mach air luingidh a bh’ ann a shin a bha sgràthail ach chum mise an sagart tioram. Chaidh e air mo mhuin. Nuair a thàinig sinn às an linnidh sin, thàine mise às a’ mhachine agus dhìrich sinn suas dhan eilean bheag, bhìdeach a bh’ ann a sheo. Cha robh ann ach fad an eich de ghlas ann agus cinnteach gu leòr gu rachadh e fodha.
“A! ’s fheàrr dhuinn falbh às an fhear-sa,” orsa mi fhìn, “agus thèid sinn dhan fhear mhòr ad,” orsa mi fhìn, “agus bi sinn sàbhailte às an fhear mhòr brith dè an làn a thig. Bi sinn sàbhailte ann. Cha bhi sinn sàbhailte às an fhear-sa idir.”
Ach, co-dhiù, dh’fhalbh sinn às an fhear sin agus thug mise air-san a dhol dhan mhachine agus bha an làn an uair sin air tighinn a-staigh air an tràigh. Chaidh mi fhìn dhan mhachine an uair sin nuair a fhuair mi gon an tràghad:
“Agus,” orsa mi fhìn, “tha teansa, siud an t-eilean,” orsa mi fhìn, “agus tha an fhadhail an taobh thall dhen eilean pìos. Siud an t-eilean,” orsa mi fhìn, “a tha air an taobh-sa dhan fhadhail.”
Bha mi ceart-a-coma ged a dh’fhiachadh e a-nall air an fhadhail. Ach aon uair is gun d’fhuair e air tìr às a’ chuisle a bh’ ann a sheoach, dh’fhalbh an t-each aig full gallop cho luath is a dhèanadh a cheithir chasan.
“O!” ors’ esan, “tha sinn bàidhte co-dhiù.”
“Chan eagal dut,” orsa mise. “Faigheadh sibh-se a h-uile sìon deiseil,” orsa mi fhìn.
Agus fhuaradh am baga aige agus:
“Theirig suas air mo mhuin-sa. Fana’ mise ann am meadhan na machine,” orsa mise. “Cha bhi air an each ach an aon tarraing is an t-aon chuideam.”
Cha robh ach a-mach air an fhadhail a ghabh e. Cha robh e fad sam bith air a dhol a-mach nuair a chaidh e air shnàmh. Bha mi a’ stiùireadh an eich is:
“Fana’ sibh-se socair sàmhach ann a shin is cuma’ sibh fhèin tioram,” ors’ mise. “Tha sinn a-null leitheach. Nì an t-each an gnothach air gu snog,” orsa mise.
Dh’fhalbh e bìdeag leis an t-srath ceart gu leòr ach fhuair sinn an sin gon a’ bhanca air an taobh eile. ’S ann a fhuair e grunn ach cha tàinig an sagart far mo ghuaillean-sa gus an d’fhuair mi seachad air abhainn Dhramasdail ach bha muir na gluineadh aige fad an t-siubhail gus an d’ràinig e an taobh eile dhen fhadhail agus nuair a ràinig e an taobh eile:
“Well,” ors’ esan, “nan gabhadh an t-each ruadh dram,” ors’ esan, “chuirinn am botal a bha seo,” ors’ esan, “na chorp còmhladh agus ’s e a b’ airidh air.”
“An-dà, mura gabh an t-each ruadh dram,” orsa mise, “tha sinn fhìn glè fheumach air.”
“Dearbha,” ors’ esan, “tha thusa feumach air co-dhiù,” ors’ esan.
Agus thug e an corc às a’ bhotal agus thug e dhomh-sa loma-làn an tumlair cho làn is a stòdhadh e agus dh’òl e fhèin deagh dhram:
“Gabha’ tu tè ’ile,” ors’ esan, “a thaobh,” ors’ esan, “tha thu fliuch uile gu lèir,” ors’ esan.
“A! Nach fhaod mi sin,” orsa mise.
Fhuair mi tè ’ile bhuaithe.
“Cha toir thu a-nisde aon ghreim ruith às,” ors’ esan, “gus an ruig sinn Cnoc Fhraochaig.”
“O!” orsa mi fhìn, “feumaidh sinn ruith a thoirt às feuch a’ fàs e blàth. Tha e fliuch uile gu lèir.”
Throt mi e sìos fad an t-siubhail gus an robh sinn dìreach aig Stance na Fèilleadh. Leig mi leis dìreadh ann a shin agus nuair a dhìrich sinn Stance na Fèilleadh, throt mi e a-rithist gus an robh e a’ dìreadh air a’ Bhuaile Rogaich:
“Stad ann a shin,” ors’ esan, “agus gheibh thu fhèin dram. The e air fàs gu math fuar.” Fhuair mi dram eile ann e shin agus:
“Is dòcha,” ors’ esan, “gum faigh thu dram eile ma ruig thu an taigh.”
Ràine sinn co-dhiù taigh a’ phoileasmain – ’s e bh’ ann an uair sin agus seachad taigh a’ phoileasmain fhuair mi dram eile. Ràine sinn Cnoc Fhraochaig agus cha d’rinn mise ach a’ mhachine a leigeil às ann a shin agus dh’fhosgail an sagart, dh’fhosgail e am baga agus thug e dhomh botal slàn gun bhristeadh riamh agus:
“A ghràidhean,” ors’ esan, “’s tu a b’ airidh air,” ors’ esan. “Bha sinn air a bhith as an t-Siorrachd nam bithinn air driveadh a thoiseach,” ors’ esan, “ach nam bithinn air do chomhairle-sa a ghabhail, bha sinn air a bhith glè shàbhailte.”
Agus sin agaibh mar a dh’èirich dhomh-sa mu dheidhinn a’ route a bha sineach agus ’s e route anabarrach fhèin cunnartach a bh’ ann agus dhealaich mise rithe.
Bha mi a’ beathachadh tairbh ann a shiud a’ bhliadhna a bh’ ann a sheoach. Agus chaidh mi sìos gu bothan, far an robh taigh aige dhà fhèin. Dh’fhalbh mi sìos leis a’ bhiadh gon an tairbh agus leig mi a-mach gu deoch e gus am biodh ùine agam an uair sin air a bhiadh a sgaoileadh air a bheulaibh. Bha mi a’ gabhail fadachd nach robh e a’ tighinn an tarbh. Sheall mi agus idir cha robh e as an locha ag òl deoch. Sheall mi mun cuairt agus Dhia! bha e air tarrain’. Dh’fhalbh mi cho luath is a b’ urrainn domh as a dheadhaigh feuch an dèanainn an gnothach air. Thuig mi taghta math gu dè bha fainear dhà. Dh’fhalbh mi agus chaidh mi roimhe. Well, bha tarbh eile as a’ bhaile a b’ fhaisge dhuinn agus fhuair e a smell agus ’s ann gon an tairbh sin a bha e a’ dol. Chaidh mi roimhe co-dhiù agus ghabh mi an aghaidh agus idir cha robh e airson tilleadh. Well, dh’fheuch mi air a’ mhaide a bha nam dhòrn agus cha robh e a’ dol a thilleadh idir. Ach chrom e a cheann agus e a’ smaointinn dìreach gun robh mi air adhaircean aige. As an am as an robh e a’ cromadh a chinn agus ga thogail air ais, thàine mise mun cuairt cho math is a b’ urrainn domh agus dh’fheuch mi air. Agus cà ’n do bhuail mi e ach as an adhairc. O! ann am prioba na sùla thuit an tarbh. Bha e air a chliathaich air a’ chnoc. Well, cha b’ ann leam fhìn a bha an tarbh idir ach leis a’ bhaile ged is e mise a bha ga bheathachadh. Cha robh fhios ’m on t-saoghal mhòr gu dè dhèanainn
“A! dè tha,” arsa mise, “ach na cruaidh-fhortan.”
“Tha teansa,” orsa mi fhìn, “gun do mharbh mi an tarbh.”
“Well,” ors’ esan, “rinn thu glè mhath,” ors’ esan. “Mura marbha’ tusa e, marbhadh esan thusa. Bha mise a’ gabhail ealla riut,” ors’ esan. “Bha mise a’ gabhail ealla riut,” ors’ esan, “agus bha thu ann a fìor dhroch-chunnart.”
“O! bha,” orsa mi fhìn, “ach gu dè math sin,” orsa mi fhìn. “cha chreidear e.”
“O!” ors’ esan, “tha deagh fhianais agam-sa.”
“Bheir mise m’ fhacal,” ors’ esan, “gun robh an tarbh a’ feuchainn ris an gnothach a dhèanamh or’-sa, ach na àite sin,” ors’ esan, “rinn thusa an gnothach aire-san. Agus,” ors’ esan, “ach tha e ann e marbh idir,” ors’ esan, “ach tha e ann a fìor dhroch laigse.”
Dh’fhan sinn timcheall air ann a shineach airson ùine agus nach e a fhuair tight a’ buille. Bha e suas ri uair an uaireadair as a’ phairilis a bha sineach mun do dh’aithnich cuairt. Ach gu dearbha, a Shiorrachd, sin agad an uair bu toilichte a bha mise riamh nuair a dh’fhosgail e a shùilean agus a chrath e a chluasan. Dh’iarr mi air èirigh co-dhiù agus cha b’ urrainn dà agus leig sinn leis treis eile. Agus dh’èirich e an uair sin air a shocair fhèin agus e a’ dol mu seach. Thog mi mo làmh ris airson tilleadh dhan taigh aige fhèin. Ach sin agad aon bhuille a b’ fheàrr a phàigh mise riamh mu dheidhinn an tairbh sin. Bha e anabarrach fhèin dona. Far an iarraidh e a dhol, cha chumadh rud sam bith e. Dhèanainn-s’ an gnothach air an tarbh leam fhìn, mar nach dèanadh sianair fear an gnothach air. Ghabh e an t-eagal romham agus bha mise sàbhailte tuilleadh.
Bha mi trip eile ag iasgach a-muigh air an taobh an ear dhan eilean, a dh’eilean Bheinne na Faoghla. Dh’fhalbh sinn a-mach dithis na thriùir againn a dh’iasgach. Chaidh sinn a-mach. Bha sinn a’ faighinn iasg gu leòr air an taobh an ear. ’S e duirgh a bh’ againn. Ach, co-dhiù, O! bha sinn a’ faighinn iasg, a Chriosdachd. Bha sinn suas is sìos air cùl na beinneadh a bha sin ris an can iad Fuidheigh. Ach bha sinn faisg air a’ cheann a Deas aice aig a’ bheinn sin nuair a thug sinn an aire do mhuc-mhara a’ tighinn agus i a’ tighinn direach as deaghaidh na sgothadh.
“A!” ors’ am fear a bha leis an sgothaidh, leis bu leis an sgoth, “cha toigh leam an coltas a th’ air a’ mhuic a’ tighinn.” ors’ esan. “B’ fheàrr dhuinn,” ors’ esan, “tighinn a-staigh ris an sgeir a th’ ann a sheo,” ors’ esan, “agus faighinn faisg oirre feuch gu dè tha fainear dhith.”
Ach, co-dhiù, chuideachadh a-staigh. Bha sinn glè lucky. Bha an sgeir ri ’r taobh agus chaidh sinn close ris an sgeir cho math is a b’ urrainn duinn. Ach ma chlose, chlose a’ mhuic ruinn. Dh’èirich i dìreach fair mu choinneamh na sgothadh againn. Agus nuair a chuir i steall dhith, cha mhòr nach deach an sgoth againn fodha. Ghabh i seachad oirnn:
“Well,” ors’ esan, ors’ an duine, “feucha’ sinn,” ors’ esan, “air tighinn a-staigh am broinn na sgeireadh a tha seo,” ors’ esan. “Tha aon àite ann,” ors’ esan, “a gheibh sgoth na meadhan agus nach èirich beud dhuinn. Ma tha an làn cho àrd agus gum faigh sinn innte, bi sinn all right ann. Fhuair sinn a-staigh co-dhiù dhan sgeir agus bha sinn air an taobh shàbhailte. Ràinig ise pìos mòr air adhart, ma thuairmse agus dà mhìle air an track air an robh i agus thill i an eamachar[?] an iar agus gum b’ ann mu choinneamh na sgeireadh a dhìrich i, a thàinig i am bàrr a-rithist. Agus chuir i meall mòr dhan t-sàile a-staigh san àite às an robh sinne.
“O! chan ann ’ugainne a tha i ag iarraidh idir,” ors’ an duine, “ach feumaidh,” ors’ esan, “gum bheil isean aice. Agus cha ghluais sinn fhathast às an sgeir,” ors’ esan. “Tha an lìonadh a’ tighinn,” ors’ esan, “agus gheibh sinn às an àite-sa uair sam bith.”
Mar thuirt, b’ fhìor. Chaidh ise air adhart, tha mi creidsinn mu dhà mhìle gon an rathad a bha i a’ gabhail agus thill i an eamachar[?] an iar. Agus dhìrich i mu choinneamh na sgeireadh agus chum i gu deas.
“Cha d’fhuair i,” ors’ esan, ors’ esan, “an t-isean fhathast,” ors’ esan, “’S e an t-isean a tha a dhìth oirre. Ach,” ors’ esan, “nuair a thig i on deas,” ors’ esan, “is a dhìreas i mu choinneamh na sgeireadh,” ors’ esan, “sgioblaiche sinne sinn fhìn,” ors’ esan, “cho cleabhar is a ghabhas dèanamh feuch an toir sinn a-mach an t-eilean,” ors’ esan, “Fuidheigh.”
Mar a thuirt b’ fhìor. Thill a’ mhuc agus dhìrich i mu choinneamh na sgeireadh far am b’ àbhaist dhith dìreadh agus chuir i cuan air an sgeir:
“Chan fhaca mi i fhathast a’ tighinn cho close ris an sgeir,” ors’ esan, “ris an seo, an trip-sa,” ors’ esan. “Feumaidh,” ors’ esan, “gum bheil i a’ faighinn smell oirnn, ach ged a tha fhèin,” ors’ esan, “bi sinn a’ falbh agus bheir e ar top dhuinn,” ors’ esan, “mun till i air ais,” ors’ esan, “mura faigh i an t-isean a bhith aig a’ chladach, far am bi sinn sàbhailte.”
Dh’fhalbh sinn agus chuir sinn ceithir raimh oirre air an sgothaidh a bharrachd air an t-seòl agus gu dearbha bha i luath. Ach dìreach neat nuair a bha sinn air tighinn air tìr air a’ chladach ann am Fuidheigh, nochd a’ mhuc. Chan ann idir gon na sgeireadh a ghabh i ach a dh’ ionnsaigh na sgothadh, ach cha b’ urrainn dhith sìon a dhèanamh an uair sin. Dh’fheumadh i fantail as an doimhneachd. Bha sinne air an tanalachd. Chuir i route an uair sin agus bha sinne air tìr as an eilean is bha sinn ceart gu leòr ach nuair a thill i air an route sin gon an taobh air ais, cha do thill i tuilleadh. Agus tha mi ag ràdha riubh gun do ghabh a h-uile duine riamh a bha sa sgothaidh a bha sin eagal agus cha robh e na iongnadh. Agus sin agaibh dìreach mo naidheachd dhuibh mu dhesidhinn na muice.
Bha mi trip eile a’ tighinn dhachaigh eadar meadhan-oidhche agus uair sa mhadainn. Bha mi an uair sin gun phòsadh agus cinnteach gu leòr gun ann a’ coimhead air an lass a bha mi. ’S ann còmhla ris an tè a phòs mi a bha – oidhche bhreàgha, bhreàgha ghealaich. Bhiodh e dìreach suas eadar uair sa mhadainn is a dhà. Bha mi a’ coiseachd a-nuas an rathad mòr is i gu math soilleir. Cha robh eagal orm. Thàinig cù nam lùib agus thàinig e chon an rathaid mhòir agus theann mi air dèanamh dheth agus thàinig an cù far an robh mi:
“Well, a laochain,” ors’ mise. Leum an cù mi.
“Ma leanas tu mi,” orsa mi fhìn, “as an àite rògach, mhosach a bha seo,” orsa mi fhìn, “gus an tèid mi seachad air a h-uile cunnart a th’ ann,” orsa mi fhìn, “bi mi glè thoilichte.”
Sin mar a thuirt mi ris a’ chù. Dh’fhalbh sinn co-dhiù is bha an cù còmhla rium is bha e a’ miodalaich timcheall orm. Cha rachadh e fad sam bith bhuam nuair a thilleadh e ’ugam, mar gum biodh e gam aithneachadh. Ach, co-dhiù, cha robh mi fad sam bith air a bhith na chòmhradh agus mi a’ bruidhinn ris a’ chù mar gum bithinn a’ bruidhinn ri duine nuair a chuala mi fead. Agus cho luath is a chuala mi an fhead, dh’fhalbh an cù.”
“Dhia, a laochain,” orsa mise, “the maighstir agad,” orsa mise, “is fheàrr na mise.”
Cha robh fhios ’m co-dhiù bha an fhead romhan na as mo dheaghaidh na air gach taobh dhìom. Thàinig an fhead cho aighthearr agus cha chuala mi ach an aon tè. Ach chum mi romham co-dhiù agus bha mi a’ coiseachd. Agus ma thuairmse agus cairteal a mhìle on àite on chuala mi an fhead, Dhia! thug mi an aire do dhròbh mòr, mòr de chaoraich. Agus bha na caoraich cruinn agus gum b’ e a cheart-chù a thàinig gon an rathaid mhòir, an cù a bha còmhla riutha. Agus bha duine ann a shin pìos a rathad mòr. Cha do leig mi dad orm ach dearbha, bhuail sgràth mi ceart gu leòr.
“Ma thig thu ’ugam, nì mi air mo shon fhìn.”
Ach, co-dhiù, thàinig an duine a-nall ceum is ceum a dh’ ionnsaigh an rathaid. Bha e airson mo ghlacadh air an rathad.
“Well, a dhuine,” orsa mise, “tha thusa aig do ghnothach fhèin,” orsa mi fhìn, “’s fheàrr dhut,” orsa mi fhìn, “luchd falbh an rathaid, leigeil leotha modhail air neo mura leig,” orsa mise, “tha eagal orm gum bi nas miosa dhut.”
Cha robh armachd dhan t-saoghal agam ach sgian. Agus chuir mi mo làmh nam phoca agus thug mi a-mach an sgian.”
“Seall siud,” orsa mise. “Tha sgian ùr an seo,” orsa mise, “is cha d’rinn i turn riamh,” orsa mise, “ach gun do lìon i làn na dhà pìoba dhomh-sa, agus mi ga fosgladh, agus a cheart cho cinnteach is a chuireas tu dragh orm, thèid i annad,” orsa mi fhìn, “a dh’ ionnsaigh na coiseadh agus ’s fheàrr dhut cus, cus mise a leigeil seachad gu modhail.”
Sheas an duine ann a shin agus thuig e taghta math gun dèanainn an gnothach a cheart cho cinnteach is a thuirt mi e:
“Agus bi fhios an uair sin,” orsa mi fhìn, “cò tha a dèanamh an uilc agus bi gnothach na dhà mu dheidhinn sin. Ach ma dh’fhanas tusa modhail sàmhach far a bheil thu, chan fhaighear a-mach gu siorraidh bhuam-sa cò thu na cò rinn an cron.”
Dh’fhalbh mise agus dearbha, gu dearbha cha robh eagal riamh orm. Ach bha giorag gu leòr annam gus an do dhìrich mi suas pìos math bhon duine. Chan eil sìon a dh’fhios agam-sa ciamar a chaidh dhan duine as a dheaghaidh sin. Cha do chuir e dragh sam bith orm-sa as deaghaidh na briathran a thuirt mi. Agus sin agaibh a-nist mar a chaidh dhomh-sa an oidhche sin. Fhuair mi dhachaigh gu sàbhailte.
Bha mi gu math aotrom nuair a bha mi òg agus bha mi coma ach a bhith a’ streap agus a’ dìreadh suas. Bhithinn daonnan, daonnan a’ glanadh shimileirean aig daoine. Ach an latha a bh’ ann a sheoach bha mi fhìn agus mo phiuthar, bha mise a’ falbh le cairt agus ise còmhla rium. Cha robh mi ach òg, òg. Bha gille cnapach còmhla riunn de dh’fhear Gallda a thàinig à Glaschu:
“Am faca tu riamh mi,” orsa mis’, “a’ dol à mullach na h-eaglais a th’ ann a shin?”
“Chan fhaca,” ors’ an gille.
“Well,” orsa mise, “fan ann an ceann an eich sin,” orsa mi fhìn, “gus an tèid mise sìos agus chì thu mi ann a mullach na h-eaglaise.”
“Faoda’ mi sin,” ors’ esan.
Dh’fhalbh mise agus shìn mi a-mach a dh’ ionnsaigh na h-eaglais agus theann streap agus streap suas a mhullach na h-eaglais agus bha mi dìreach air a’ mhullach aice agus dh’èibh mi:
“Seall siud,” orsa mise. “Chan eil duine agaibh an Glaschu,” orsa mise, “a nì sin.”
Agus choisich mi air druim na h-eaglaise cho luath agus ged a bhithinn air an làir agus mi ag èigheach dhà-san. Ach cha robh for na grèineadh agus gun robh duine na broinn, gun tug mi an aire do dhuine a’ tighinn a-mach. Bha coinneamh as an eaglais. ’S e ’n Eaglais Shaor a bh’ ann. Thug mi an aire do dhuine a’ tighinn a-mach agus sgall air agus e a’ coimhead os chionn agus thug e an aire dhomh-sa. Agus siud mise sìos air a’ chliathaich. Agus siud an duine mun cuairt airson mo ghlacach air an taobh an deach mi sìos. Siud mise air an taobh eile dhan chliathaich eile. Siud an duine a-null air an taobh eile airson mo ghlacadh gun teagamh. Cha robh mi ag ràdha guth. Ach thug mi an aire dhà-san a’ tarraing cho luath is e rinn e riamh agus leig mi mi fhìn sìos air a’ chliathaich agus Dhia! fhuair mi sìos ge b’ oil le chridhe. Agus thug mi mo chasan leam. Bha an duine sin a’ dol mun cuairt air an eaglais agus chan fhaca e duine tuilleadh. Bha iad a’ smaointinn gur h-e an Spiorad Naomh a bha a’ tighinn a-nuas orra. Agus sin agaibh mar a dh’èirich dhomh-sa mu dhèidhinn a’ ghille a bh’ ann a shin.
9. A Trip to Lochmaddy
I was on another trip and our township was gathered together at a meeting and it was about a bull that was going to sale that we were discussing. There was not one who agreed about it going at all.
“Oh! we have to,” said the chairman, “we have to put a plough out and two to steer it, they must go with the bull.”
And only two ploughs were built.
This was done but it chanced upon me and upon another man from the other side of the township. Well, it couldn’t be helped. It couldn’t be helped in any case but that we had to go. The bull had to leave tomorrow so that it would before the mail was in Lochmaddy the next day. We had a long, long distance to go and we had to leave at the midday tide. But, in any case, we made to ready to leave on the next morning the bull was tied with a rope and the two of use left to go to reach the first ford. We reached the ford, and, by Mary, there were three other bulls leaving from Benbecula but we were the last few to leave. They others left before us. But in any event we reached the ford. I made the other man who was along with me:
“Take off your shoes,” I said, “and you’ll take the rope over before you and the bull will follow after you and I’ll take them off then.”
So this is how it was. He removed his shoes. When we reached the slope of the ford, I stopped and I started to remove my shoes. I removed the first shoe and the stocking and, treasure of your heart, the bull made a strike to the middle of the ford and he wouldn’t come out of it. He turned round and the lad was pulled along by him. He finally had to let of the ropes. Well, I had one shoe on and one shoe off and I just ran after the bull. We didn’t have a care for the world but to keep on the same side as he was coming to the ford. But we were going to intercept him in any case. We put him there into a big, deep pool. By the time he came back to land on the other side we went over quickly and I grabbed the ropes and we took him around. From there he would never come. We kept on then. I only had one shoe on and the other was off.
“What now,” I asked, “as I’ve no way of getting the other shoe off,” he said, “but we’ll stop here and we’ll remove them.”
I took off my shoe in any case and I gathered up my trousers to the knee and I removed the other shoe and the stocking. We kept on before us in any case until we came to land in a place that was very sore on the feet because of the shingle. Oh! when I came to land the shingle was biting as it was so sharp that it was injuring my feet.”
“Ah! God,” I said, “I’ll never reach the other side. We can’t stop because of the stones here,” I said, “and I go on the bull’s back. We’ll close in on the stone and I can’t go by on this thing here.”
But in any event:
“If he throws me, he’ll throw me, but I’ll try and go on his back. You keep a tight hold on the rope as well as the other one.” He had started.
He kept a tight hold of the rope and I was going by on the bull’s back. He couldn’t jump because the place was covered with sharp, hard metal. But before he got by the place he was standing still. He didn’t move at all and we went past the two other fords before we came to land on the other side of this place. But in any case we reached Carinish and we took the bull up towards the large door and I was on his back with people looking hither and thither at the man on the bull’s back and indeed it was a wonder. The bull was tied to a large boulder so that no one needed to be afraid to go out by the door. Those who were in, were in. We asked for our dinner and we got our dinner and a dram from the bottle that we took with us just in case we met anyone on the way so that they could get a dram. But if we didn’t, then we would have it to ourselves. I leapt on the bull’s back in a minute at the door and the bull went. I had wanted the other man to go for while in my place so that I could walk but he couldn’t go either way in my place. I’m sure that they had never seen such a wonderful sight as they saw that day. All the old women, old men and lassies and everyone else who were on the hillocks looking at had never seen the like. We reached Clachan a’ Ghluip which was three miles to Carinish towards Clachan. There were many people on the road and everyone recognised me:
“Oh Heavens, look at Big Angus on the bull’s back. Isn’t he the lad and isn’t he brave and he looks so relaxed just now.”
We got clear from there and we were coming. There wasn’t a person away from home who didn’t look at us. We kept on going all the time until we reached a place they call Langas.
“Well, the sallow-coloured bull,” I said, “is getting tired and we’d be better off to let him rest and I’m sure that he’s thirsty and we’ll take good refreshment here.”
The heroic bull was given in any case and the quarry there, Oh God! there was a large, deep pool. The bull went out into the middle of one of them and he began to drink and he drank his fill there. He came back in and he lay down for a while. We gave our hand to one of the flasks and mind it didn’t last long. The other man said:
“The drink will get us blind drunk before we reach Lochmaddy and we don’t know what will happen to us.”
“Away with you. You’ll let that be between me and that, I said. “We’ll be refreshed and holy in bed tonight while rest will be on the hillock, if it can be done.”
They rest were ahead of us all together with three other bulls and a couple of them with every one of them. But in any case before we reached Lochmaddy, at a place called Druim Seallastan before we started to descend the slope and I was on the bull’s back. I was still on the bull’s back since we had left the north ford and we heard the noise of a machine coming from behind us.
“I believe,” I said, “there’s a machine coming after us here. Look behind you.”
“It’s nearly reached us.”
“Oh! God, then,” I said, “I’d better get off the bull’s back.”
I leapt down from the bull’s back and I heard a whistle and I took a look. Who was it but the coachman for the owner of Lochmaddy hotel and he had four or five tourists.
“Will you,” he said, “get on the bull’s back again so that those here can take your picture.”
“Well, I suppose, yes,” I said.
I’ll go on his back this very minute.
“Very well,” he said, “let the bull’s front lean on the machine and go on its back.”
“Right enough,” I said, “it’s better for you, Duncan,” he said, “to turn round with the bull so that I can go on the bull’s back. They’re all going to take a picture.”
The bull was turned around and I did no other worldly thing than to jump by and I was on his back. The camera was pointed at me in a minute and two or three pictures were taken and he gave me a crown. He asked me:
“Where are you going with the bull?”
“I’ll see you there,” he said.
And the coach was let by then and that very minute I leapt on the bull’s back. Such laughter has never been heard as that coming from those people while they remained in our view. But we kept going in any case until we reached Lochmaddy and I went to a friend’s house to see if there was a place for the bull. I asked the man right enough so that I would get a place for the bull. I would get a place for myself and for the lad in the house was good enough but if I got a place for the bull that was even better. We reached the house in any case and Oh! the bull had become so calm. He could hardly move a step although he had been quite fresh when he left. We arrived in any case just as night was falling. I asked if we would get a place for the bull until tomorrow when the steamer came in. “Oh! he said, “I haven’t got a place for you,” he said, “it wouldn’t please him to go into the barn that I have for the door is too low and narrow.”
“I wonder,” I said, “would we get a place down around Lochmaddy?”
“Indeed,” he said, “we’ll try. We’ll try John Taylor as he had many sheds and if anyone in this world gets it, you’ll get it.”
I knew John Taylor quite well. He was a merchant.
“Very well,” I said, “we’ll have some food in any case and we’ll try to make it down to Lochmaddy.”
It was upwards of more than a mile before we reached it.
“If we’re out tonight”, I said, “we’ll be drowned.”
But in any case we set off. We ate our food and we had a few drams. We had a full flask and we took a good dram from that flask and we set off the rest of it in. We kept on going down until we got to John Taylor. Oh! but John Taylor wasn’t in but his lad was. He pleased me greatly.
“Which route are you on just now?”
“The route which I’m on is that I’m just coming with a bull.”
“A bull?” he asked.
“Aye. I came here to see if I could get a place from you until tomorrow when the steamer arrives.”
“Oh! Heavens,” I said, “it’s a pity you didn’t come yesterday.”
“Our shed was clear,” he said. “The banker came at nightfall and it’s not more than an hour ago that he asked for a place for his cow as his shed wasn’t right for it as it should have been and we gave him a place for the cow.”
“Is the shed that big,” I asked, “that it could take both the cow and the bull?”
“Oh! no,” he said. “It’s small enough for the cow itself. It was just good enough for the bull. But I’ll do this for you,” he said. “I’ll not let you go at all for there’s an empty stall in the stable and the bull can put into that stall.”
“Are there any horses?” I asked.
“Oh!” he said, “there are two horses, and one of them is at end of the stall.”
“Indeed, I’ll not do that for you,” I said. “I’d far, far prefer you to be annoyed all night long than to put the bull in between the two horses for if there’s any noise around then they’ll be knocking the bull by its horns, and there’ll be kicking and sure enough the horses will be dead if the bull yields or the bull will be dead if the horses yield. But I’d like to give you many thanks. We’ll try down the Cearsabhagh road. I’d be surprised if we don’t get a shed there. It will be closer to hand.”
We went down the Cearsabhagh road and they had a big, big shed there. They’d keep boats there and there would be more that forty boats for the fisherman kept there over the summer.
“We’ll go, Donald,” I said, “to the boat shed at first. Many a time,” I said, “I had a horse in the boat shed and if it’s clear tonight then that’s where the bull will be put.”
We were taken to the boat shed where twenty-one boats had been stored. We started to lift the boats up on top of each other so there was enough space for the bull. It was put in and the second rope was tied to a big post in the middle so that he couldn’t reach the door, and the other post, which was nearer the door, we tied with the other rope so that it couldn’t reach the boats:
“You’ve got enough space, little hero, and it’s good for you to go there,” I said, “instead of being at the pier all night.” We went over and went to the stable and who was there but the landlord’s coachman.
“Ah! well,” he said, “the folk that I had today coming were proud for they had never seen such a sight when they saw you riding on the bull’s back.”
“If they had seen right. If they had seen him,” I said. “When he was making every effort to throw me and he didn’t manage to throw me and I kept on his back all the way until he was as calm at last just as your horses in the machine and he grew calmer. That was when he was frisky. The other man accompanying me could keep up running. He had to grab hold of its tail.”
But in any case:
“Oh! they’ll see you yet,” he said.
“I hope they don’t,” I said, “but just you wait. Will I get a place for bull around here?”
“I think that there are enough sheds around here but it has been eleven weeks since I was here last until this very night and I have no idea of how things are. But if there’s place, then you’ll get a place.”
He started to ask a lad in the stable what was in thon shed. The lad told him what was in thon shed.
“Well,” he said, “Angus, I think that we didn’t take all the boats in,” he said. “there’ll be enough room in the big shed.”
“There’s more than twenty boats in it.”
“Ah! then, we’ll put them on top of one another and the bull will be safe and the boats will be safe.”
“He is just inside the shed and,” he said, “nothing will happen to the boats. We shifted the boats.”
“Why, oh son of that man,” he said, “did you ask me where you’d get a place and you got yourself a place?”
“Well, I know,” I said, “you’d be very welcome to put the bull in there. Many a time that my horse was in there before when the stable was full and it’s just as good as thon shed and he would be in the best stable in the world but I need food for the bull just now.”
“Anyway,” he said, “you’ll prefer barley rather than hay.”
“I’ll take barley,” I said, “He has made a big fautic[?] and he has walked twenty-eight miles today if he hasn’t walked more and he’ll be quite tired and that’s the thing that will give him heart after he has carried me from Benbecula in addition to all of that.”
“Ah! well, well,” he said, “no man has done the thing that you have done.”
“Oh! if they haven’t,” I said, “you’ll only ever have to say that I’ve not done it.”
But in any event I got the barley for the bull:
“We’ll go in now,” I said, “and we’ll take a dram.”
“Yes,” he said. “Indeed, indeed, I’ll stand my hand without a doubt because of the sight I saw today.”
And this lad was from Skye. We went in anyway. He got the order:
“Excuse me,” he said, “I’m going out for a wee minute but I’ll be back in presently.”
He only, my treasure, went round and he went to the front and said that there was a man on top of the bull:
“Where is he?” everyone said.
“He’s down there,” he said, “in such and such a room at the bar.”
I got my drams there and those who were along with me paid us very well for the trip and we were drinking all night long.
But a storm and rain started before we left the hotel. It nearly broke every single boat that was at anchor. We spent all night working on the lad’s boat that had come along with us and we got it pulled in to land about four o’clock in the morning sunk at the bow of the boats and when we went down the following day to the lad’s boat and she was miraculously on land.
“Ah, well,” he said, “she was safe here in any event.”
“Oh! yes,” he said, “but I’m missing four or five other boats that were here and there’s no sign of them.”
And he started to pile them up. Those boats, one of them was broken on the shore and other others were filled and had sunk. The sails were on the shore as well as the oars and everything else that was inside them. There was nothing left in them. And it was a big day lifting the boars and there was a big sessions too. Those that were submerged were safely lifted. Nothing happened to them apart from having been sunk. The steamer had yet to arrive. We went, a big drove of us, up to the pub and we were made welcome and there was enough drink as we could wish for:
“We must,” I said, “give a dram to the poor lads down by the shore before the steamer arrives. You’d better give me a half bottle so that I can give them a dram.”
I got the half bottle for free. When the steamer arrived, we set off with the bull and with a load of barley on our backs. And we put the bull onto the steamer and we stayed on the steamer until we reached Ceallan. We disembarked at Ceallan and stayed on Flodday all night long. On the following day in the morning we made a bundle for the house and that’s what happened to me with regard to the bull. I had a terribly good grip and I then I parted from that.
On another occasion I was in Lochmaddy accompanying the priest. He had to go now and again to the Poor House in Lochmaddy. But on this occasion in any event it was in the winter and if a man was poorly then he would need a priest. He sent me a message:
“Well,” he said, “you’ll have to accompany me today.”
“Where?” I asked.
“Oh! very well,” I said. “I’ll be very pleased to.”
“You’ll accompany me.”
“We’ll not go tonight.”
“I don’t mind at all even if it wasn’t until tomorrow night.”
We set off in any case and the ford was dry when we arrived:
“Well,” said the priest, “I’ve never seen the ford so dry as it is just now.”
“Oh God, before we reached the Ford of Eilean Shlighnich,” I said, “there’s no doubt that it’ll be full. It’s just the lowest tide if hasn’t already passed.”
But in any case we kept on going over taking our time. We trotted over and passed by Caiginn and we reached the Ford of Eilean Shlignich.
“The tide’s coming in,” I said.
“Do you think so?” he asked.
“Oh! yes,” I said. “We’re on the north side of the skerry. The tide’s coming in swiftly on this side.”
The north side was taken in any event and we got over it. It was not deep at all.”
“There’s not much tide here at all. There’s only a little,” I said, “but we’ll keep going.”
“There’ll be more,” I said, “in Sruthan na Comraich.”
That turned out to be true. There was more, far, far too much as it was deeper in Sruthan na Comraich. We reached Carinish and we kept on going until we reached Lochmaddy. The priest went to the Poor House and he saw the poorly man there. He wasn’t too poorly at all and he wasn’t dying at all. We had a great night that night and on the following day the priest was late in leaving. But in any case he said to me:
“We’ll have to go, Angus,” he said.
“Right enough,” I said.
“I forgot about things,” he said, “so that we didn’t leave earlier but we’ll be early enough.”
There was sign of bad weather coming in and it was shifting to the west. Although the day before was beautiful, it wasn’t so beautiful today. But in any case we set off but before we reached Carinish night had fallen and the moon was out. We arrived in Carinish and we took a dram. And he went up as was his wont and I got a dram and I got a flask. He came down and he asked:
“Are you ready?” he asked.
“I’m ready,” I said.
“Oh! very well,” he said, “let’s go then, if we are leaving.”
We left and the ford was fine. We kept on going over until we reached near to the Ford of Eilean Shlighnich and we noticed a machine coming to meet us from the south. Who was it but Calum Tuathach [North Uist man] and he was going over to Carinish. We shouted to him if he was coming back:
“In a minute,” he said, “when I’ve left this one on land in Carinish.”
“Then we’ll catch up with you.”
“Oh! I’ll catch up with you,” he said, “before you reach Caigeann. We’ll be along together.”
But the night darkened and it was growing darker and darker and the rain started. But the horse made it to Caigeann in any case. I said to the priest
“We’d better wait there until the squall goes by.”
“Hah,” he said, “since it’s done so well and that’s it taken it from the door of Caigeann it’ll it do much better at taking out the Ford.”
“Oh God,” I said, “she is quite hard on the sides.”
“Oh! it’ll do the business without a doubt,” he said.
“Very well,” I said, “that’ll be right enough. We’ll be off.”
We set off and we went across the stream together. But if we did the horse started to go against it, against the shower. I knew full well that it was going off course and I was giving a wee pull on the reins, on the second one of them trying to keep it on course but it was so dark:
But in any case:
“Well,” I said, “we could see the ford: little mounds of the ford judging by the distance we’ve covered and the time that we’ve taken.”
“Do you think so?” he asked.
“Yes. There’s not a thing to be seen on the skerry.”
What was it but a horse on the ridge of the outreach keeping to the west. But there came a respite and the squall cleared out to the east. The horse lifted his head and shook himself and turned straight to the east.
“Oh God,” he said, “the horse has gone awry. It has lost the course.”
“It hasn’t,” I said. “It’s rather searching for the course. It’s now in a place where it has never been before.”
“Ah! no,” he said, “it’s just lost the course completely and thon’s the course.”
“Right enough,” I said, “here, take the reins. If you think that I and the horse are wrong then you can do the rest.”
The reins were given to the priest and he kept on going west. Oh! the horse was not willing to go to the west at all.
“But stop,” I said. “Stop a wee minute here.”
I could hear the noise of the sea.
“Listen,” I said, “the noise of Corran a Tuath.”
“Do you think that’s it?” he asked.
“I know it is,” I said. “It’s boiling there. The tide’s coming in and this minute and so let’s try the east,” I said, “let’s try the east or else we’ll be sucked into that current and we’ll never be seen again.”
But on that route in any event we reached the Ford but that wasn’t the right place. We started to walk up by the side of the ford and we noticed a big island on the west of the ford and so:
“There’s a big island yonder,” I said, “and sure enough that’s the island that’s on this side of the ford, on this side of the ford. There’s another island on the side yonder of that and on the other side. But there’s a wee island,” I said, “and we’ll try and make for it. The tide is coming quickly into the ford.”
The island was reached in any case and we went out into a pool which was terrible and I kept the priest dry by carrying him on my back. When we came out of that pool, I alighted out of the machine and we climbed up to the tiny, wee island there. There was only there the length of horse of and sure enough it was going to be submerged.
“Ah! we’d be better getting out here,” I said, “and we’ll go over to the big one and we’ll be safe on the big one whenever tide comes in. We’ll be safe there but we’ll not be safe here at all.”
But in any event we set out from that one and I made him go to the machine and the tide had come in on the beach. I went into the machine then when I got to the beach:
“And,” I said, “there’s a chance on yonder island and the ford is over on the other side of the island a bit. Yon’s the island and this side of the ford.”
I didn’t mind if it would try to go over the ford. But once he got to dry land in the channel there, the horse went at full gallop as fast as his four legs could carry him.
“Oh!” he said, “we’ll be drowned at any rate.”
“Don’d be afraid,” I said. “You’ll get everything ready.”
And he got his stick:
“Get on my back and I’ll stay in the middle of the machine,” I said. “The horse only has to pull once and it’s the same weight.”
He only had to make for the ford. He was not long going out when he began to swim. I was guiding the horse and:
“You stay calm and quiet there and I’ll keep you dry,” I said. “We’re half-way across. The horse will do the business nicely.”
He went a little with the current right enough and we got over to the bank on the other side. Then he hit the ground and the priest did not come off my shoulders until we got by Dramasdale river but the sea had reached his knee all the way until we got to the other side of the ford and when it reached the other side:
“Well,” he said, “if the red horse took a dram I would give him this bottle and he would deserve it.”
“Well, then, if the red horse won’t take a dram,” I said, “we ourselves are very needy of it.”
“Indeed,” he said, “you’ll need it anyway.”
And so he took the cork out of the bottle and he gave me a full tumbler, as full as it could be and he himself had a good dram:
“You’ll have another one,” he said, “because you’re totally wet through.”
“Ah! I might do just that,” I said.
I got another one from him.
“You’ll not have to make another trot,” I said, “until we reach Cnoc Fhraochaig.”
“Oh!” I said, “we’ll have to make him trot to try and get him warm as he’s wet through.”
I made him trot down all the way until we just reached Stance na Fèilleadh. I let him ascend and when we had climbed Stance na Fèilleadh, I made it trot again until he was climbing the Buaile Rogaich:
“Stop there,” he said, “and you’ll get a dram. It has got quite cold.”
I had another dram:
“May be,” he said, “you’ll get another dram before you reach the house.”
In any event we reached the policeman’s house – and when we passed the policeman’s house I got another dram. We reached Cnoc Fhraochaig and I had only then to let the machine out there and the priest opened the bag and he gave me a bottle that had not been broken:
“Ah dear,” he said, “you deserve it. We would have been in Heaven If I had been driving from the start and If I had taken your advice we would’ve been very safe.”
And that’s what happened to me on that route and it was a particularly dangerous route and I parted from it.
That particular year I was feeding a bull. And I went down to a bothy where he had his own house. I went down with the food for the bull and I let him out to drink so that I would have enough time to spread his food before him. I was getting fed up that the bull wasn’t coming out. I looked around and saw that he wasn’t in the loch taking a drink. I looked around and Oh God! he had gone. I went as quickly as I could after him to see if I could get the better of him. I knew fine well what he intended to do and so I went after him. Well, there was another bull in the township nearest to us and he got a smell and he was heading towards that bull. In any case I went after him and I got ahead of him and he did not want to return at all. Well, I tried with a stick in my fist but he didn’t want to return at all. But he lowered his head and he was thinking just that I was at his horns. While he was lowering his head and lifting it back, I came around as best I could and I tried him. And where did I hit him but on the horn. Oh! in the blink of an eye the bull fell. He was lying on his side on the hillock. Well, the bull didn’t belong to me as it was owned by the township although I was feeding it. I had no idea in the whole wide world what I would do:
There’s a chance that the bull was dead and I went over to where he was and I tried his head. He was dead without a doubt. I looked hither and thither in any event and I noticed a man yonder looking and he was just staring at me where I stood.
“Ah! well, it can’t be helped. The bull is dead.”
I lifted the head up again and it fell down. The man walked leisurely down step by step until he reached me:
“What’s up, Angus?”
“Ah, what’s up,” I said, “but hard fortune.”
“There’s a chance,” I said, “that I’ve killed the bull.”
“Well,” he said, “you did very well. If you had not killed him, he would’ve killed you. I was taking note of you and you were in great danger.”
“Oh! yes,” I said, “what use is that – no one will believe it.”
“Oh!” he said, “I have good evidence.”
“I’ll give my word,” he said, “that the bull was trying to get the better of you, but instead you got the better of him. And he’s still alive and not dead at all but he had been knocked unconscious.”
We stood around for a time and didn’t he get a tight hit. He was about an hour lying paralysed before he came around. But indeed, oh! Heavens, and there you have the time when I was very pleased that he opened his eyes and shook his ears. I asked him to get up in any event but he couldn’t so we let him lie there a while longer. And he got up then taking his time and he was staggering from side to side. I raised my hand to him to return to his own house. And there you have the one best strike that I have every paid for regarding that bull. He was terribly wicked: where he wanted to go, nothing could keep him back. I would get the better of the bull by myself, better than what six men could do. He was frightened of me and I was far safer thereafter.
I was on another occasion fishing out on the east side of the island of Benbecula. We went either two or three of us to go and fish. We went out. We were catching plenty of fish on the east side. We had fish-spears. But anyway Oh! we were catching fish, a Christendom of them. We were up and down the back of the hill called Fuidheigh. But we were near the southern end of that hill when we noticed a whale coming and it was making straight for the boat.
“Ah!” said the man who owned the boat, “I don’t like the look of that whale coming. We’d better make it over to the skerry here so to get nearer it and see what it intends to do.”
But in any event, we were helped in. We were very lucky. The skerry was beside us and we went as close as possible to the skerry. But if it was close, the whale came even closer to us. She rose just right opposite our boat. And when she blew her hole, our boat was nearly submerged. She went passed us:
“Well,” he said, said the man, “we’ll try and make it to the skerry here. There’s one place where the boat can get in the middle and no harm will come to us. If the tide is high enough then we can get in, we’ll be all right. In any event we made it to the skerry and we were on the safe side. She reached a good piece forward, around about two miles on the track on which she was and she returned and moved to the west and it was opposite the skerry she climbed, that she rose up on top again. And she put in a great lump of the sea in the place in which we were.
“Oh! she is not coming for us at all so she must have calves,” he said, “and we’ll not move yet from the skerry. The swell is coming and we’ll get out of this place at any time.”
That turned out to be true. She went forward, I believe about two miles on the way that she was taking and she returned and moved to the west. And she rose up opposite the skerry and she kept on going south.
“She didn’t get,” he said, “the calf yet and it’s the calf that she wants. But when she returns from the south she’ll rise up opposite the skerry,” he said, “we’ll clear up as quickly as we can and try to make it over to the isle of Fuidheigh.”
That turned out to be true. The whale returned and she rose up opposite the skerry where she usually rose up and she pushed the sea over the skerry:
“I’ve not seen her coming so close to the skerry yet,” he said, “until this time. She must have got the scent of us, and although that may well be we’ll leave and it’ll give us our top before she comes back and if she doesn’t get her calf at the shore, then we’ll be safe.”
We went and put four oars on the boat in addition to the sail and indeed she was fast. But just as we were coming to land on the shore at Fuidheigh, the whale appeared. She didn’t head to the skerry but towards the boat, but she couldn’t do anything then. She had to wait in the deep water and we were in shallow water. She headed on another route then and we had landed on the island and we were all right but when she returned on that route to the return side, she never came back. And I am telling you that every single man in that boat got a fright and that was no wonder. And there you have just my story for you about the whale.
I was on another occasion coming home between midnight and one o’clock in the morning. I was then unmarried and sure enough I was going to see my lassie. It was the woman who I was eventually going to marry – it was a beautiful, beautiful, moonlight night. It would have been between one and two in the morning. I was walking up the road and it was quite clear. I was not scared. A dog came over to me and he came to the highway and I started to call it and the dog came to where I was:
“Well, little hero,” I said. The dog jumped on me.
“If you follow me,” I said, “from this nasty, horrible place until I get by every danger there is then I’ll be very pleased.”
That’s what I said to this dog. We went in any case and that dog was along with me and it was fawning all around me. He wouldn’t go far from me when he would return to me, as he recognised me. But in any case I had not long been conversing and talking with the dog as if I had been talking to person when I heard a whistle. And as soon as I heard the whistle, the dog went.”
“Oh! God, little hero,” I said, “you’ve a master better than me.”
I didn’t know in any case whether the whistle came from before me or after me or on which side of me. The whistle came so abruptly and besides I had only heard it once. But I kept on going anyway and I kept walking. But around a quarter of mile from the place where I heard the whistle, Oh God! I noticed a large, large flock of sheep. And the sheep were gathered and it was the very same dog that had came to the highway that was along with them. And there was a man there a piece away from the highway. I thought nothing of it but indeed, the fear stuck me right enough.
“If you come to me, I’ll make you my own.”
But, anyway, the man came over step by step towards the road. He wanted to catch me on the road.
“Well, man,” he said, “you’re on your own business. It’s best for travellers on the road, to let themselves be polite or else if they don’t I’m afraid you’ll be worse off.”
I had no weapon in the world but a knife. And I put my hand in my pocket and I took the knife out.”
“Look at that,” I said. “I have a new knife here and it hasn’t done one turn apart from fully filling two pipes for me, and I’m opening it, and as sure as you’ll trouble me, she’ll go into you towards the leg and it would be far better for you to let me go by politely.”
The man stood there and he knew fine well that I would do the business just as sure as when I said it:
“And you’ll know then,” I said, “who is doing the evil and there one or two matters arising from that. But if you stay polite and quiet where you are, they’ll never find out from me who you are or who did the mischief.”
I left and indeed, indeed, I was never scared. But I never felt a fright until I had climbed a good piece away from the man. I’ve no idea what happened to the man after that. He never troubled me after what I had said. And there you have what happened to me on that particular night. I safely got home.
I was giddy-headed when I was young and I didn’t care for anything but to be climbing up and down. I always, always used to clean people’s chimneys. But on this particular day me and my sister were setting off on a cart and she was along with me. I was only very young. There was a lad along with us, a Lowlander who came from Glasgow:
“Have you ever seen me,” I asked, “go to the top of the church over there?”
“No,” said the lad.
“Well,” I said, “stay by that horse’s head until I get down and you’ll see me at the top of the church.”
“I may do that,” he said.
I set off and I went over towards the church and I started to climb and climb up to the roof of the church and I was just on the rooftop and I shouted:
“Look at this,” I said. “there’s no man in Glasgow who’ll do that.”
And I walked on the church’s roof ridge as quickly as if I was on a mare and shouting at him. But I had no idea under the sun that there was anyone inside until I noticed a man coming out. There was a meeting in the church. It was the Free Church. I noticed a man coming out who had a bald patch and he looked up and he noticed me. And I came down on the side. And there was a man around to catch me on the side I went down. I went on the other side. There was a man over on the other side to catch me without a doubt. I wasn’t saying a thing. And I noticed him coming as quickly was he could and l let myself down by the side and Oh! God! I got down against his wishes. And I took to my heels. That man was going around the church and he has not seen anyone yet. They thought it was the Holy Spirit who had come down on them. And there you what happened to me regarding that lad.
NFC 1180, pp. 301–548
Angus MacMillan, Benbecula, 1930s.