MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Eilean an Fhraoich
(Island of Heather)
John Matheson CB 1 Tape 9 Track 11
St.Ann's Audio:
Homeland Song

Gaelic

'S truagh nach robh mi 'san àite 's.... mi 's mi òg
A'dìreadh nan creagan gu neadan nan eòin
Bho'n thàinig mi Ghlaschu tha m'aigne fo bhròn
'S mi caill mo chuid chlaisneachd le glagraich nan òrd.

Chorus
A chiall nach mise bha'n Eilean an Fhraoich
Nam fiadh 's nam bradan 's nam feadag 's nan naosg
'S nan lochan nan otan nan òsdaichean caol
Eilean innis nam bo 's àite comhnaidh na laoigh.

Bha'n t-eilean ro mhaiseach gu ro-phàilt ann am biadh
'S e 'n t-eilean as àile air na dheallraich a ghrian
'S e eilean mo ghràidh-sa bha 'Ghàidhlig ann riamh
'S chan fhalbh i gu bràth gus an tràith an cuan siar.

Air feasgar an t-sàmhraidh bidh sùnnd air gach sprèidh
Bidh chuthag is fonn orr' ag oran dhith fhèin
An uiseag air lonan 'sa smeòrach air gheug
Frith ghlas is lòin, uain òga ri leum.

'S tha nigheanagan Ghlaschu cho spaileil gu leòr
Le dressichean geala gu mealladh ghill' òig
Ach b'fheàrr leamsa caileag as dùthaich Mhic Leòid
A dh'fhuaighleadh le snàthad 's a chatadh an clò.

'S gach duine bha riamh ann bha ceud diu aige dha
'S gach duine bha riarnh ann chan iarr as gu brath
Gach eun thig air sgiath ann bu mhiann leis bhi ann tàmh
Bu mhiann leis gach iasgair a lion bhidh ri tràigh

(repeat of verse 3) Air feasgar an t-sàmhraidh bidh sùnnd air an sprèidh
Bidh a chuthag is fonn orr' ag òran dhith fhèin
An uiseag an lònan 'sa smeòrach air gheug
Frith ghlas is lòin uain, òga ri leum.

English

I wish I were now in the land of my youth
Climbing the rocks to the nests of the birds
Since I came to Glasgow I am filled with sadness
I am losing my hearing with the noise of the hammers

Chorus:
Oh that I were in the isle of the heather
Where there is deer and trout, plover and snipe
With lochs and. creeks and narrow outlets (of a river)
Isle where cattle graze, dwelling place of the calves.

The beautiful island has food in plenty
The most pleasant isle on which the sun ever shone
It's the isle that I love, Gaelic always was spoken there
And will be forever till the western seas go dry.

On a summer's evening the cattle are contented
The cuckoo is joyfully singing to herself
The sky-lark, the blackbird the thrush in the boughs
Young lambs frolic in the parks and meadows.

The young girls of Glasgow are dressed in style,
In their white gowns deceiving young men
I would choose a lass from the land of MacLeod
Who could sew with a needle and mend the tweed.

It was the first love of all who lived there
And all would desire not ever to leave
Every bird that wings there would like to remain
Each fisherman would like to have his nets by the shore.

(same as verse 3) On a summer's evening the cattle are contented
The cuckoo is joyfully singing to herself
The sky-lark the blackbird the thrush in the boughs
Young lambs frolic in the parks and meadows.


Notes

The island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides has long been known as the “Island of Heather.” This song in praise of Lewis was written by a native of that island who was, at the time of the song’s composition, residing in Glasgow. As in many Homeland Songs, the composer reminisces about the beauty of his native island and expresses his dislike of the worldliness of city-dwellers.

This song was most likely incorporated into the Cape Breton tradition through song collections or albums originally produced in Scotland. It became particularly popular in the North Shore where the descendents of many Lewis emigrants reside today.

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