MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Carson a Mhol Thu MhÒrthir Mhosach?
(Why Did You Praise the Horrid Mainland?)
Catherine Patterson CB 1 Tape 11 Track 6
Benacadie Glen Audio:
Milling Song, Satire

Gaelic

Heideagan àrainn u rin o ho ro
Heideagan àrainn o ro

Failt'ort fhèin a'Mhòrthir bhòidheach
'San òg mhios an t-samhraidh.

Mòrthir bheag nam bradan dearbh-bhreac
'S airgiod a'cur lann orr'.

Carson a mhol thu Mhòrthir mhosach
Airson stoban calltuinn?

Mòrthir mhosach doirbh ri coiseachd
'S iomadh sloc is allt innte.

Mòrthir mhosach doirbh ri coiseachd
'S iomadh sloc is allt innte.

Cailin bhuidhe crathadh muidhe
'S i na suidh' air plancaid.

Fir gan ruìgheachd le cion bithidh
Dh'itheadh crìdh as t-samhradh.

Trath air òl', 's trath air snòdhadh
'S trath air cnòthan calltuinn.

'Siomadh fear gun bhiadh gun aodach
Gach taobh do Loch Aoillte.

Fir gan ruìgheachd le cion bithidh
Dh'itheadh crìdh as t-samhradh.

'S thig a Uibhist fear caol buidhe
'S gum b'e struth o'm eòlas.

Thig a Eireann mac Righ Seumas
Le dheideagan airgiod.

Thig a Barraidh fear 'chùil chlannaich
Blathshùil mheallach bhòidheach.

Thig a Muideart fear mòr mugach
Strùpagan 'na phòcaid.

English

Heideagan arainn u rin o ro
Heideagan arainn o ro

Welcome to you beautiful mainland
In the summer month of June.

The little mainland where the white bellied salmon is found
Their scales shining silver.

Why did you praise the horrid mainland
For its little stumps of hazel?

The rough mainland, difficult to traverse
With so many hollows and streams.

The rough mainland, difficult to traverse
With so many hollows and streams.

A yellow-haired maid shaking a churn
Sitting on a blanket.

Men growing weary for want of food.
Who would eat a heart in the summer

A while [existing on] fish oil, a while on sap
A while on hazel nuts.

Many a man without food or clothing
On each side of Loch Aoillte.

Men growing weary for want of food
Who would eat a heart in summer.

A thin, fair man will come from Uist
Who was a fund of knowledge.

King James' son will come from Ireland
With his silver baubles.

From Barra will come the curly-haired man
Of the lovely alluring eyes.

From Moidart will come the big surly one
Cockles in his pockets.


Notes

This song was also collected b John Lorne Campbell from Mrs. Patterson in 1937 (see song 17 in Songs Remembered in Exile), when she sang 13 verses. As he noted in that book, "this is a version of John MacCodrum's song composed about 1755 in reply to Alexander MacDonald's poem Failte na Morthir (Welcome to Morar).

The first two verses of the version sung here belong to MacDonald’s poem (verses 1 and 17 of the 1924 edition), possibly to emphasize what is being debated.

Interestingly, Mrs. Patterson's verses differ almost entirely from the two other published versions of this song (The Songs of John MacCodrum, p. 50, and Alexander MacLean Sinclair's The MacLean Bards, p. 251). In his notes to the former book, editor Wiliam Amtheson states "more verses of the song than given here may still come to light" (p. 244). John Lorned Campbell was of the opinion that the last four verses here belonged to another song.

The word “Morthir,” as it appears in both of the afore mentioned poems, would be understood in the islands to mean the mainland, but Alexander MacDonald probably meant the area encompassing Moidart and Morar, land owned by the Clanranald MacDonalds. John MacCodrum not only expresses his dislike of the Clanranald estates, but compares their tenantry to paupers, desperately trying to feed themselves with what little the land will offer them.

Corrections and additions by Lorrie MacKinnon.

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