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- Beinn a’ Cheathaich – (The Misty Mountain)
- Miughalaigh (Mingulay)
- Laoidh Mhoire Mhaigdeann – (Hymn to the Virgin Mary)
- Cha Teid Mise – (I will not go)
- Thig Dhachaigh Leam dha ‘n t-sìdhean – (Come home with me to the Fairy Knoll)
- Leis an Lurgainn – (with the Lurgainn)
- Gaol a chruidh, gràdh a chruidh – (Love of the cattle, darling of the cattle)
- ‘N Robh thu ‘sa bheinn? – (Were you on the hill?)
- Oran na Raiders Bhatersaigh – (Song of the vatersay raiders)
- Oran do Dh’eilean Mhiughalaigh – (Song to the Isle of Mingulay)
About the Songs
Beinn a’ Cheathaich – (The Misty Mountain)
This song is believed to have been composed by a female bard from Mingulay, Nic Iain Fhinn (the daughter of Fair-haired John), in the Seventeenth Century. It is in praise of the MacNeils of Barra who were heading to Ciosamul Castle, seat of the Clan MacNeil, and known at one time to be a place for great feasting and celebration.
Mingulay is part of Barra Parish and it, along with Barra and the other Barra Isles,
were held by the MacNeils from at least as early as the Fifteenth Century.
Laoidh Mhoire Mhaigdeann – (Hymn to the Virgin Mary)
Faith was central to the lives of the people of Mingulay. This hymn is taken from a hymn composed by Sìleas MacDonald of Keppoch (Sìleas na Ceapaich) c.1660-c.1729. The full version of it, which depicts the story of Christ from his birth to his death, is known to have been sung often in Mingulay. It has been in Maggie’s family for at least the last three generations and was a favourite of her Great Granny, Cairistiona Gillies née MacNeil of Mingulay.
Cha Teid Mise – (I will not go)
According to Maggie’s mother, Flora MacNeil, and Great Aunt, the late Mary Gillies, this is a Waulking song which was sung in Mingulay. Maggie learned this song from her mother and from a recording of Mary Gillies held in the School of Scottish studies.
Thig Dhachaigh Leam dha ‘n t-sìdhean – (Come home with me to the Fairy Knoll)
A Mingulay Fairy Song. According to the Collector, Alexander Carmichael,
writing in his famous collection, The Carmina Gadelica (first published in 1900), this Fairy song was “heard in a fairy mound in Mingulay” (CG(V), 116 – 117).
The melody of the song was not collected and, as far as we know, has been lost. Maggie has composed her own new tune. Clearly, the Fairy is trying to entice the children away from home with all sorts of promises.
Leis an Lurgainn – (with the Lurgainn)
Fishing was, of course, an essential part of life for the people of Mingulay This song, about a boat called “The Lurgainn”, was sung in many parts of the Highlands and Islands including Mingulay. Maggie heard this particular version, which is different to the commonly sung version, from the singing of the late Nan MacKinnon of Vatersay (Nan Eachainn Fhionnlaigh) who, in a recording made by the School of Scottish studies, said that her mother who was born and lived most of her life on Mingulay sang it this way, (SA1958/116.1). There is a play on words in the chorus which does not exist in the more commonly sung version. The word “Lurgainn” means “Leg” (whereas perhaps the boat was actually called “Luragan” meaning “Pretty Girl”).
Gaol a chruidh, gràdh a chruidh – (Love of the cattle, darling of the cattle)
As well as fisherman, the Mingulay people were crofters. They also lived off the seabirds
by scaling the high cliffs. This is a traditional Milking song. Maggie learned this from a recording of the singing of Ealasaid Sinclair (Ealasaid Iain Dhonnchaidh) of Mingulay held by the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh. (1959/68/B9)
‘N Robh thu ‘sa bheinn? – (Were you on the hill?)
A waulking song which would have been sung in Mingulay. This song was passed on
to Maggie by her mother who heard it from her mother, Annie Gillies, and her Granny, Cairistiona Gillies née MacNeil.
Oran na Raiders Bhatersaigh – (Song of the vatersay raiders)
In 1908, ten men from Barra and Mingulay were imprisoned for refusing to leave the island of Vatersay where, out of poverty and desperation, they had built huts and planted potatoes without the Landowners permission. The case caused public outcry and led to the Government buying the island for crofting. The Raiders were hailed as heroes and this song was composed praising them.
Maggie learned this song from the singing of Nan MacKinnon of Vatersay, courtesy of the School of Scottish Studies (SA 1958/115.1)
This ancient lament for Seathan, the son of the King of Ireland, composed by his wife, was often sung in Mingulay. It was collected by Alexander Carmichael for his “Carmina Gadelica” from, amongst others in different locations, a Mary MacDonald and Mary, wife of Angus Campbell, on Mingulay in May 1869. Maggie’s mother heard this song from Mary Johnston from Mingulay who later lived in Castlebay, Barra. Mary was a cousin of Maggie’s mother’s mother.
Oran do Dh’eilean Mhiughalaigh – (Song to the Isle of Mingulay)
Neil MacPhee is said to have composed this after a return visit to Mingulay many years after the island had been abandoned and upon seeing the house where his parents and other family members had died of typhoid in 1894.