Sing me a song..

Without social media being available in the 18th century other methods had to be used to communicate, songs played an important role in influencing popular sentiment both for and against the Jacobite cause.

Today relatively few Hanoverian or pro-government songs have survived over time but there are many Jacobite songs that have been written and recorded through the centuries.

Many Jacobite songs are in Gaelic as many Highlanders, though not all, fought on the side of ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’. Many of the great Gaelic poets of the 18th century were Jacobite supporters and composed songs on the subject including Alexander MacDonald.

Moidart-born Alexander MacDonald is considered one of the finest Gaelic poets of the 18th century and was also among the first to join Prince Charles when he arrived at Glenfinnan. It is also said that MacDonald was called upon to try to teach the prince some Gaelic though if this is true it seems it did not go that well. Nevertheless, MacDonald saw himself as a propagandist for the cause through his poetry, and wrote many inspiring songs during the campaign and afterwards, when he continued to write optimistically of a return of the rightful King. Some of his songs include : Òran Nuadh — “A New Song”, Òran nam Fineachan Gaidhealach — “The Song of the Highland Clans” and Òran do’n Phrionnsa — “A Song to the Prince,”

Many years after the Jacobtie risings finished songs were still written though by this stage they often romantised the history and were sentimental of the Jacobite cause.  Such songs include ‘My Ain Countrie’, ‘The Skye Boat Song’ and ‘Will Ye No Come Back Again?’ 

The Skye Boat Song (800)_tcm4-575637
The Skye Boat Song

The Skye Boat Song is probably one of the most well known songs and is a Jacobite lament describing how Bonnie Prince Charlie, disguised as an Irish woman, was rowed from Uist over to the island of Skye to hide from Government soldiers.

Chorus:
 ‘Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing
Onward, the sailors cry!
Carry the lad that’s born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.’
Verse 1:
‘Loud the winds cry, loud the waves roar,
Thunderclaps rend the air.
Baffled our foes stand by the shore.
Follow they will not dare’
Verse 2:
‘Many’s the lad fought on that day
Well the claymore could wield,
When the night came silently lay
Dead on Culloden’s field.’
Verse 3:
Burned are our homes, exile and death
Scatter the loyal men.
Yet ere the sword cool in the sheath
Scotland will rise again!’
The words were actually written by an Englishman, Sir Harold Boulton, about 120 years ago. He used a Gaelic song format, a rowing song called an iorram, and the tune is said to come from the Gaelic song ‘Cuachan nan Craobh’ or ‘The Cuckoo in the Grove’. Since then many people have covered the song including Rod Stewart and Tom Jones.
Songs and poems were a key part to the Jacobite Risings with both sides using their power to influence the public and record the events of the time. Hopefully this short introduction has been interesting and you can always search for the songs online to have a listen. As always please blog, share, tweet, follow, comment and spend an evening enjoying the songs of the Jacobites if you can.
All the best, K & D

A little bit of Gaelic

Today we thought we’d explore a little bit about the history of Scottish Gaelic. Here at Culloden, or Cùil Lodair, we get quite a few questions about the language as we are lucky enough to have dual language elements in our centre. So, we thought we’d use this opportunity to give a bit more information about the language.

gaelic

Gaelic is a Celtic language thought to originate from the north east corner of Ireland, which slowly spread its way across to the western areas of Scotland. Scottish Gaelic is a close relative of Welsh, Cornish and Breton, but shares a more intimate relationship with Irish and Manx Gaelic. These three Gaelic or Goidelic languages descend from a common ancestor, spoken in Ireland in the late first millennium BC and early first millennium AD.  In Scotland, Gaelic became established as the main language and played a part in distinguishing the different cultures of the Highlands from the Lowlands of Scotland. The language has strong connections to the Highland clans, with laws and customs fully written and spoken in Gaelic.

As the influence of the lowlands grew and swept north into the Highlands, so did the English language that we now speak today. Gaelic declined slowly over the centuries and there were several historical events which had an impact on the language, including the Act of Union with England in 1707 and the Highland Clearances following the Battle of Culloden. Gaelic however left its mark across the whole of Scotland and its influence can be seen in the names of Scottish places, mountains, on official buildings and on bilingual road signs on the west coast and islands.

gaelic2

The Gaelic alphabet only contains 18 letters (the letters j, k, q, v, w, x, y, and z are not used) and looks a little different to the English one, with accented vowels and different letter sounds to get accustomed to. The roots of the language are closely connected to nature and the ancient Scottish landscape. There are more than 100 words for mountain and over 40 for bog. Indeed the letters themselves were named after plants and trees, for example, the letter ‘a’ is ailm, which translates to ‘elm’ in English.

Today the Highlands and Islands of Scotland account for 55 percent of Scotland’s Gaelic speakers. It is most widely spoken in communities in the Outer Hebrides, as well as island communities on the Isle of Skye, and to a lesser extent, Argyll & The Isles. The Highlands is also known as Gáidhealtachd, the ‘land of the Gaels’, and proudly celebrates its Gaelic heritage. Interest in the language continues to grow, with various Gaelic language courses available, dedicated television and radio channels and cultural events taking place to celebrate contemporary Gaelic culture. Thanks to this the language is enjoying an increase in speakers and learners, with many young people choosing to learn the language of their ancestors, Inverness itself now hosts a Gaelic school and many schools offer Gaelic as an option to study.

Due to a high number of Scottish emigrants in the 18th and early 19th centuries, Gaelic communities have also emerged across the world, most notably in Canada, in the Nova Scotia region, but also in New Zealand, Australia and other regions in North America. If you are interested in learning Gaelic be sure to check out http://learngaelic.net/ for more information and resources.

To leave you we thought we’d give you a quick taster of Gaelic with a few key phrases:

Good Morning – Madainn Mhath  – pronounced ‘Matdeen va’

Good Afternoon – Feasgar Math – pronounced ‘Fessger ma’

Goodbye – Mar sin leibh – pronounced ‘ Mar shin leyv’

Thank you – Tapadh leibh – pronounced ‘Tapa layv’

A hundred thousand welcomes – Céad míle fáilte – pronounced ‘Cade meelah fallcha’

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this post and as always please like, share, tweet, follow, comment and be inspired to learn a little Gaelic.

All the best K & D.