MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

An TÈ a Chaill a GÀidhlig
(The Woman Who Lost Her Gaelic
)

Performed by Malcolm Angus MacLeod Accession # 78-054 CB 1 Tape 8 Track 3
Community: Skir Dhu Audio: Yes
Genre: Village Verse

Transcription

Gaelic

Latha dhomh 's mi nam ònar 's mi an dùthaich air m'aineol.
Gun do smaoinich mi sràid ghabhail sios feadh a'bhaile
Bha mo smaointeanan brònach air iomadh doigh nach gabh aithris
'S mi 'cumha na h-ìghneag te na miog-shuilean meallach
A rinn mo bhrath.

Chunnaich mise ru airidh 's bha e bhuam fad mo shealladh
'S e tighinn na mo chomhdhail le tè cho bòidheach ri aingeal
Cha robh fàilte na h-aodann 's bha cuid aodach 's an fhasan
Bha seudan gu boillsegeach air a mhaighdean a lasadh
'S a h-uile car.

Chiur mi fàilte orr'gu cairdeil "De mar a tha tha sheann leannan?
Gun do shìn mi mo làmh dhith 's thug mi dha dhe na crathadh
Bheil thu gu math na do shlàinte, bheil iad slàn aig a'bhaile
De mar a tha d'athair 's do mhàthair 's a bheil mo chàirdean-sa fallain
'S a h-uile neach?"

Fhreagar ise gu naimhdeil "You're a Scotchman I reckon
I don't know your Gaelic. Perhaps you are from Cape Breton
And I guess you're a farmer,you're too saucy for better.
So I will not shake hands and I would rather at present
Be going off."

Las mo ghruaidhean le tamailt 's ghluais m'ardan le caise
Thaobh cinneadh mo mhàthair cha robh àrach air agam
'S bhon si fhèinn bha gun nàire thainig càil gu mo theanga
'S thubhairt mi rithe 's a'Ghàidhlig gun ghuth àrd no droch fhacal
Dìreach mar seo.

"'N cuimhn' agad bh sinn 'nar pàisdean le cheile
Mise 's briogais ghlas chlò orm 's droch bhrògan a reir sin
Thusa le d' chòta beag drogaid air a ghrobadh ri cheile
Sud nuair a bha tha coidheach gun d'rinn a'phrois do dheagh bheusan
Mo chruinneag gheal.

Rutiheamaid tric 'sna lointean 's cha 'be bròn bh'air ar n'àire
'S e bh'ann samhradh ar n'òige 's truagh a chìr nach do mhàir e
Cha robh dhith ort dhe'n t-saoghal ach mise daonnan bhidh mar riuth
Le do dhubhan beag prine falbh gu stèidheach 'san abhainn
'S tu marbhadh bheac.

Ach a nise dh'fhalbh an uair sin 's dh'fhàs thu suarach am dheigh
Air fàs dhuit 'nad bhean-uasal gun tug thu dùthaich dhut fhèin ort
'S ged a bha mise ri strì riut tha tug mi m'inntinn gu leir dhut
'S ann tha cuimhn' aig mo ghràdh-sa 'cur bhuntata na h-èiginn
'S an talamh glas."

Oidhche dhomh 's mi 'sa leabaidh cha b'ann nam chadal a bha mi
'S iomadh ni a bh'air m'àire nach fhaod mi aithris an drasda
'S ann a chuala mi'n comhradh cùl na cadhal an Gàidhlig
'S ann a mionaid na h-uarach bha mo chluas aig a sgaineadh
'S mi aige sgailc.

Tigh Iain Ghrota gu siorraidh 's mi le mialaint an amais
Dhut fhèin 's gach tè dhe do sheòrsa dh'fhàs cho leòmach 's cho spaideil
'S ged a bha mise ri strì riut cha tug mi m'inntinn gu leir dhut
'S ann a bha cruinneag mo ghràidh 'cur bhuntata na h-èiginn
'S an talamh ghlas.

English

One day when I was on my own in a foreign land
I thought of taking a stroll down through the town
My thoughts were sad in many ways that can't be narrated
Lamenting the maid, the one with the bewitching eyes
Who had deceived me.

I saw in the distance a certain fellow
Coming towards me with one as beautiful as an angel
There was no friendship in her face, her clothes were in fashion
the bright jewels on the maid sparkled
S she walked.

I greeted her affectionately, "How are you my old lover?"
I thought of taking a stroll down through the town
My thoughts were sad in many ways that cannot be narrated
Lamenting the maid, the one with the bewitching eyes,
Who had deceived me

I greeted her with affection "How are you old sweetheart?"
I held out my hand but she ignored it
"Are you well in health, are they well in your village? How are your father and mother and are my friends in good health
And everyone?"

She answered haughtily, "You're a Scotchman I reckon.
I don't speak your Gaelic. Perhaps you're from Cape Breton
And I guess you're a farmer, you're too saucy for better.
So I will not shake hands and I would rather at present
Be going off."

I blushed at the insult and my temper rose quickly
In that respect I take after my mother
And since she was so conceited I found courage to speak
And said to her in Gaelic without a cross or bad word
Just like this.

"Do you remember when we were children together?
Me with grey tweed trousers and poor footwear as well.
You with your little drugget coat stitched together.
That's when you were lovely but pride has changed you
My fair maid.

We would run through the meadows without care or worry
It was the summer of our youth, how I wish it had lasted
All of your needs in the world were for me to be near you
With your little pin hook, boldly in the river
Killing trout.

But now that time has gone you don't care about me
Now that you are a lady and chose to live in another country.
And though I sought your attention, you did not fill my mind completely
My memories of my love are of her planting potatoes in desperation
In the untilled land.

One night as I lay in my bed, but not sleeping
With much on my mind that cannot now be mentioned
I heard a conversation in Gaelic from behind the partition
In one second of time my ear was to the crack
And got a blow.

To John O'Groats with you, I'm really not bothered
With one of your kind who grew so prim and stylish
And though I sought your attention, you did not fill my mind completely
My memories of my love are of her planting potatoes in desperation
In the untilled land.


Notes

This humorous, macaronic song was composed by (The Bard) MacDermitt of North Shore c.1880. It concerns a fateful meeting the bard had with his once sweetheart on the streets of Boston (where many Atlantic Canadians sought work in the late 19th and early 20th centuries). MacDermitt’s sweetheart had apparently taken well to life in Boston and rejected her Cape Breton roots. Although conversant in Gaelic, she refused to speak it and apparently regarded Cape Breton Gaels to be uncivilized and backward. The bard reminds her of how beautiful she was before she became conceited and leaves her with the curse, “May you stay in John O’Groat’s House forever!” John O’Groat’s is a remote fishing village and the departure point for the Shetland and Orkney Islands in the far north of Scotland.

 

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