Ortha nan Gaidheal


THE three poems which follow were obtained from Dr Donald Munro Morrison in 1889, a few days before he died. Dr Morrison heard them from an old man known as 'Coinneach Saor' - Kenneth the Carpenter - and his wife, at Obbe, Harris. These aged people were habitually practising quaint religious ceremonies and singing curious religious poems to peculiar music, evidently ancient. In childhood Dr Morrison lived much with this couple, and in manhood recorded much of their old lore and music. These however he noted in characters and notations of his own invention which he did not live to render intelligible to others. This is extremely regrettable, as Dr Morrison's wonderfully wide, accurate, and scientific attainments, deep knowledge of Gaelic, of music, and of acoustics, were only surpassed by his native modesty of mind and tender benevolence of heart. He was a distinguished medallist in several subjects at the University of Edinburgh.

A Gaelic proverb says: 'Theid dualchas an aghaidh nan creag ' - Heredity will go against the rocks. Dr Morrison was descended from the famous hereditary brehons of the Isles. These Morrisons have been celebrated throughout the centuries for their wit, poetry, music, philosophy, medicine and science, for their independence of mind and sobriety of judgment, and for their benevolence of heart and unfailing hospitality.

Niall MacFhionnlaigh, A' Chiste Ghàidhlig, a chuir na teacsaichean seo gu léir bho Carmina Gadelica air an làrach-lìn aig Sabhal Mór Ostaig ann an 1995
2001-04-09 CPD